Dear Editor, I have been a visitor to the Algarve for many years enjoying the sun and hospitality, and a few years ago moved here to integrate into a small village near Loulé, enjoying every minute of my new life here.
I appreciate that there is a world recession, and no closer noted than Greece, our close neighbours Spain, and ourselves to bring it harder to home, and we have to put up with strong austerity measures to try and bring us back in line.
This will never ever be an overnight success, so we have to suffer what our governments have done in the past to better our lives, and put up and shut up, and hope we can recover
But recently, on a rare trip to Tavira, avoiding the use of the A22 (another bone of contention) and the dangerous EN125, I drove from São Brás using what I think is the EN250 – some slow areas due to villages and bendy roads but also some lovely long open stretches, safe as you can see so far into the distance and open to speed (and some stunning Algarve scenery).
That was until a callous GNR speed trap plied their trade on this open stretch to catch as many as they could like flies in a Venus Fly trap. I, being one of them, was a whole 8kph over the limit. Yes, wrong and law breaking, I hear you say. €120 fine. But like the many before me and numerous behind me – now over 20 cars waiting (and more I dare say to join the queue). A good day’s earnings for the government. But it was the set up, a GNR people carrier, with an officer sat in the back, armed with a laptop (no pistol), internet access and a printer loaded with paper (not bullets), an officer in the front, armed with a credit card machine and envelopes of cash (pre-paid fines), who was constantly being shouted at by the officer in the back to get a move on due to the queue of traffic waiting to be processed.
There was a group of five cars behind me from a family group, renting a nearby villa and on a day out trip to Tavira, seeking fresh local fish for lunch, all breaking the speed limit by a few kph – all fined €120 per car.
There were a few expletives from the drivers as you would expect, but all paid sadly returning to the villas and booking a flight rapidly back to the UK never to return. That was €600.
I agree it was wrong to break the speed limit, as we all need to uphold the law, but for a few kph, would it not have been better to turn a blind eye and let the money be put into a struggling community, keeping people employed, who pay taxes back to the government? It was the set up that hurt me. It was like a supermarket checkout.
I now hear from a friend this is a regular event on this road. I can, like others, only afford so much these days to survive, and a fine of €120 is something I can do without.
Leonard Beard, By email