Tug of war over Lagos trading hours continues

By ANA TAVARES [email protected]

Lagos Câmara remains locked in a tug of war with local business owners regarding its new proposal, which sees the closing of all the council’s bars and restaurants by midnight as a way to control noise in residential areas.

Claiming that the new measures could result in an annual loss of €100 million for the city, the Algarve Surf and Marine Activities Association (ASMAA) sent a press release to the Algarve Resident questioning the reasons of the decision, which many believe to favour the establishments located on Avenida dos Descobrimentos and whose concessions were granted by a Câmara-owned company, FuturLagos.

“It can be argued that FuturLagos is in direct competition with all landlords in Lagos,” said the CEO of ASMAA, Laurinda Seabra. “This is a blatant contravention of Article 101 of the European Commission Competition Act,” she added.

The non-profit association also raised issues regarding the fact that the Lagos council Head of Audits and Inspections Marisa Rosa Mestre da Palma is “the appointed director” and married “to one of the main shareholders” of acoustics company DBS Acústica e Segurança.

According to some bar owners, the councillor’s company has been recommended for the required purchase or adaptation of sound limiters, which are mandatory if the bars want to have their doors open past midnight.

“This is a clear case of blatant conflict of interest, which was not disclosed to the affected parties,” said Laurinda Seabra.

Lagos Mayor Júlio Barroso told the Algarve Resident that “an eventual incompatibility will be handled internally” and that the “exposed situation is already under investigation”. He also added that there have been a few “overreactions” to the measures “that do not reflect the goals of the municipality.

“We believe that with the help of the several parties involved, some good faith and constructive criticism, we will make a more understandable and consensual version of the regulations,” said the Mayor.

Some bar owners, however, were left questioning the Câmara’s good faith after receiving a visit from the council’s inspectors following the debriefing sessions. Several posts and even pictures of the visits were posted on the Facebook wall of the group “Let’s Save Lagos Nightlife”, which now features nearly 5,000 members.

Since approving the measure in December last year, the Câmara extended the deadline for the submission of written objections until today (January 25) and held three public debriefing sessions, all of which were crowded, leaving several people with no choice other than to wait outside.

At the time of going to press, the two petitions promoted by ASMAA in Portuguese and English had been signed by more than 3,500 people.

To sign the petition, please visit www.change.org and search “Save the Nightlife in Lagos”.