New police patrols aim to 'eradicate' top manta vendors in Barcelona
Hundred officers from three forces will work together on "permanent" effort to disrupt illegal street selling in key areas of city center
Illegal street selling known as 'top manta,' because the vendors show off their wares on blankets ('manta' means blanket in Catalan) that can be quickly collected when the police appear, could soon be a thing of the past in Barcelona.
Monday saw the start of a new initiative involving the Mossos d'Esquadra Catalan police, the local city police and the port police in an effort to "eradicate" the illegal practice, according to the councillor in charge of security, Albert Batlle.
A hundred officers from all three forces will work together as part of a "permanent" operation to prevent illegal street selling in key areas of the city center, with two patrols in the morning and the evening, between 9.30am and 10pm.
Among the city's areas that attract large numbers of top manta vendors and customers that will be targeted by the police patrols are Passeig de Gràcia, the Rambla, Plaça Catalunya and the Front Marítim.
"We do not expect miracles, but continual attention will be needed"
Albert Batlle · Barcelona local councilor
The aim of the initiative, said Batlle, is to convince both the illegal street vendors and their customers that the practice "cannot be tolerated," and the councillor added: "We do not expect miracles, but continual attention will be needed."
Batlle also stressed that top manta selling is illegal, and he encouraged the public to show its support for local shops rather than buying from street vendors, which he said are "harmful to the basic activity of the economy."
Sellers set up shop again at 10pm
However, eradicating the top manta street vendors could prove to be something of a challenge. At 10pm on Monday, after the new police patrols were over for the day, some sellers set up shop once more on Barcelona's seafront.