UPDATED APRIL 5
KILL THE ECONOMY: We both say no to the tolls on the A22, If you wish to kill the economy of Portugal quickly this is the way to do it. Tourists will stop coming. bus companies and car hire companies will close down and holiday makers will travel to places like Turkey, where they will enjoy a good time and not be hassled for cash at every whichway. ALAN AND SUZANNE SMITH
FOOLS: The Algarve will doubtless have a good year for tourism this summer, attracting those who would normally visit Tunisia, Egypt etc. Make the most of it. Once all the visitors receive big hits on their credit cards back home for non-payment of fines they were unable to pay (and probably didn’t know about) they’ll never return. RIP Algarve tourism and heaven help the Algarvians once they lose their main source of income. Fools! DAVID FOOT
BIZARRE DECISION: The resignation of Prime Minister, José Sócrates, came about in no small part due to a lack of consultation with all stakeholders. Against this background, and within the context of an increasingly depressing financial context, there must surely be a recognition and a willingness to reflect on the bizarre decision to introduce tolls on the A22.
The political climate has changed since the original decision. Now, more than ever, there is a need to recognise and respond to serious and legitimate concerns. It is not too late to take the right course of action and, in so doing, demonstrate a political maturity and respect for the people of the Algarve. Recent public demonstrations and ongoing protests at the portagems proposal must be viewed as expressions of genuine worry for the future welfare of the Algarve.
Leaving aside the merits or otherwise of his arguments, Sócrates made the fatal error of flying solo and turning a deaf ear to voices of those who expected the courtesy of consultation. The Prime Minister paid the price for what might be perceived as arrogance. Those who now have it in their power to show respect – however belated – for the Algarve should see that reversing the installation of A22 tolls will be rightly lauded as the powerful actions of just politicians who not only listen but, more importantly, respond accordingly.
The opportunity to shine a beacon of optimism and hope through the current financial and political gloom must be seized. Benefits will not be confined to the decision makers or those who use the A22; no, the welcome breeze blowing in a positive direction will impact across the whole of Portugal. The opportunity to not only do the right thing but at the same time provide a much needed boost to the country’s morale must surely be grasped as a way forward along an A22 free of unwise, unnecessary tolls.
The question is is whether those in power have the personal and political strength to effect positive change for the Algarve and, indeed, for the Portuguese people as a whole. TOM CALLAN