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In plenary, final clearance secured for land plan revamp ahead of Sant Ferran’s new low-cost public housing

ple-febrer-2020jFormentera held its February plenary session today, a gathering that brought definitive approval to the fourth round of changes to Formentera’s Local Land Plan (Pla Territorial Insular, or PTI). The go-ahead came thanks to supporting votes from the Gent per Formentera and Socialist Party (GxF-PSOE) governing coalition and despite the abstention of councillors from Sa Unió.

Said mobility and land chief Rafael González, “we know how serious the housing problem is on Formentera, and with this change we’ll be able to give the Balearic housing agency [Ibavi] a single plot for construction of a new crop of rent-controlled public housing in Sant Ferran”. The retooling also means freeing up land for a new park nearby for children. González described the pair of measures as complementary to the various improvement projects —upgrades on Avinguda Joan Castelló i Guasch, construction of a primary school and nursery— that the Formentera government has overseen in Sant Ferran in recent years.

Councillor González said the rules change was also about bringing the island into line with prevailing trends, removing obstacles for islanders keen to instal self-use solar panel systems in their homes and, at the same time, promoting renewable energy. What’s more, bugs have been worked out of the 2010 rules: formalities related to land use are now more straightforward for government staff and islanders alike. Today, a decade after councilmembers voted to enact the rules, a name change is in the pipeline, so what were once referred to as the island’s “Subsidiary Rules” (Normes Subsidiàries) will henceforth be known across the archipelago as PTI.

formentera.eco 2020
Having described Formentera’s plans for the next 12 months of formentera.eco to the Council of Entities (Consell d’Entitats), the land and mobility councillor presented the scheme to the full-house gathering. Entry will be granted to 4% fewer cars than last year, and the period of enforcement will be from 1 July to 31 August. The measure passed with support from the GxF-PSOE governing coalition despite abstention from the opposition.

But González insisted formentera.eco was about more just than “tightening the tap on incoming cars”. “We’re shooting for a sustainable mobility where residents and tourists naturally begin to move differently”, he said. “That means improvements to public transport like buses and taxis. It means more people cycling and more space for pedestrians.”

The number of motorists who receive a permit to drive on the island will shrink by 4% every year until 2023, when there are 16% fewer cars on the road than when formentera.eco first launched. In 2020, 11,952 permits will be available for visitors seeking to rent a car on the island (including Formentera residents, the figure is 21,487).

Quotas for rental car agencies, tourists and Eivissa residents
The maximum number of standard-size automobiles available for rental by tourists is 2,592 (for scooters the figure is 6,720). A total of 2,180 permits will be available for drivers who want to bring their own vehicle (220 if the vehicle is a motor-scooter). Eivissa residents, for whom the number of quotas remains unchanged from last season, are the only ones who won’t see reductions in the available supply. “It’s about guaranteeing access to our neighbours”, explained Councillor González, “and upholding the law”. Up to 220 Eivissa drivers can request a permit to bring a car (for scooters, the total is 20), and the application carries no associated fees. As in 2019, no permits will be issued for four-by-fours, caravans or RVs.

Quotas for residents
Although there is no limit on permits for motorists who reside on Formentera, Councillor González said he hoped that “with the growing momentum around sustainable mobility and the growing list of alternatives to status quo transport, we hope islanders will naturally start to use their personal cars and scooters less”.

Formentera residents are still exempt from the authorisation fee, and as in 2019, the application process can be completed on formentera.eco. Also similarly to last year, authorisation for drivers with a permit to park in blue zone street parking will be automatic. Authorisation can be verified by entering a vehicle’s plate number on a section, still in development, of the formentera.eco website.

González pointed out that permits will not be denied to tourists who already had a booking for lodging or ferry passage prior to the measure’s adoption and its publication in the regional gazette. Formentera.eco will offer such individuals the chance to process their case online.

Service fee
With “yes” votes from the governing coalition and despite “no’s” from representatives of Sa Unió, plenary members gave the initial green-light to a proposed service charge for tourists who bring a private vehicle to the island. Just like last summer, tourists will be charged €1/day for cars (minimum fee: €5), and €0.50/day for scooters (minimum fee: €2.5). The minimum fee is just one of the changes motorists will see in 2020. Islanders from the other Balearic Islands and electric car drivers will also avoid paying minimums, and drivers of hybrids pay half price. “We expect the minimum fee will help cover the project’s cost”, concluded the councillor.

Support came for a measure to renew the current waste collection and transport contract until such time as a new one can be tendered. Environment councillor Antonio J Sanz said the contract would move forward “as soon as cost structuring data is received from five firms”, intimating that pick-up and shipment of rubbish had been deemed essential services and must continue even pending determination of a new service concessionaire.

Councillors also passed two measures brought by the opposition. The first proposal dealt with renewing efforts to remove asbestos from buildings under the jurisdiction of the Formentera government. Councillor Sanz expressed his support for the proposal and said the government already ensures pickup of illegally dumped materials. Plenary members likewise agreed to fast-track legislation of road safety improvements at the Porto-Salé turnout from the main highway. Councillor González told assembly members to expect to see changes before the start of the tourist season.

Status update from Councillor Paula Ferrer
Head of the local offices of sport, island services and human resources, Paula Ferrer took stock of progress on efforts within her departments. Starting with human resources, Ferrer said the priority was “improving workplace conditions—key to stabilising local services”. She also spoke about short-, mid- and long-term goals, like creating pools of qualified candidates for temporary and permanent openings, publishing a transparent pay chart for all Formentera government employees, adopting a schedule of positions, and coming up with a path for full-time staff to become civil-service employees.

Ferrer also ran through recent improvements to the island’s sport and fitness infrastructure, like upgrades at the swimming pool, at the main football pitch and other pitches in Es Cap de Barbaria, at padel courts and elsewhere. The children’s park in La Savina has been equipped with a calisthenics circuit, pergola and street lighting. Repairs have taken place in the Ses Bardetes neighbourhood, while islanders in La Savina, Sant Francesc and other towns can now enjoy newly installed basketball hoops. Urban areas and roads have seen changes as well, like the removal of architectural barriers in Sant Francesc. Lastly, Ferrer spoke about some of the priorities of Formentera Department of Sport: “Dedicating all our efforts and resources to incentivising sport among schoolchildren”.

Official proclamation on Int’l Women’s Day
Members of the assembly came together to issue an official proclamation on International Women’s Day, 8 March. Councillor of equality Vanessa Parellada presented the text, which encourages “islanders of every gender to join our plea for a fairer, more peaceful, more sustainable world”. “The movement around International Women’s Day continues to grow stronger. It has become undeniably powerful—just the women who make up its core. Many men have joined the cause as well, for gender equality benefits everyone, and men’s and women’s destinations are intertwined”.

The councillor also trumpeted another milestone, the election of Formentera’s first-ever female president, not to mention the fact that women now hold 9 of 17 elected posts in Formentera’s governing body. “Equality is increasingly visible and public”, she affirmed. “The challenge that lies ahead is nothing short of complete equality on Formentera. It’s a challenge we must all rise to, because equality benefits everyone.”

25 February 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Formentera asks Palma for special strategy and targeted measures to tackle housing problems

reunio---institucional-armengoToday in the Formentera government’s hall of ceremonies, island president Alejandra Ferrer met with Balearic first minister Francina Armengol, local vice-presidents Ana Juan, Susana Labrador and Rafael Ramírez and Ms Armengol’s cabinet minister, Pilar Costa.

The meeting offered a review of the projects developed over the course of the previous term, including the hand-off of authority on tourism promotion, construction of the new school and nursery in Sant Ferran (a visit followed the gathering) and the rollout of formentera.eco —the plan to count and cap vehicle entry on the island— as well as other ventures still in the offing.

One of the priority points was housing. In that regard, Formentera officials called on their counterparts from Palma to create a Comprehensive Housing Office (Oficina Integral de l’Habitatge). President Ferrer placed “an unprecedented housing bill entailing a whole slew of improvements” among the “many steps already taken by the regional government”. “But Formentera’s highly unique situation leaves us in a legal grey area, which is why we need a special plan and specific measures to make sure the right to housing is a reality here.”

For her part, Ms Armengol granted that “some of the housing measures applied elsewhere in the Balearics aren’t applicable to Formentera”. She pledged to listen to proposals from Formentera and see how they could be made to fit with rules backed by the regional government. “A solution here is imperative”, she said, “there are so many people that can’t afford market prices, or, quite simply, aren’t finding any available homes”.

Maritime transport and moorage checks
President Ferrer voiced her hopes that the project to regulate moorage across Formentera’s coast be moved forward. On maritime transport, she acknowledged that the recent securing of early-morning and late-evening ferry passage between Eivissa and Formentera constituted a success, “but continued efforts will be needed to ensure a minimum standard of service, and to protect the route that boats cut across Ses Salines nature reserve”.

Ms Armengol said the Balearic government was ready and willing for more progress in those areas. “Thanks to regulation developing a special funding scheme for the Balearic Islands, we had our first-ever rules on freight transport, including assistance for inter-island shipping with special protocol for Eivissa and Formentera that could mean savings between the two islands of up to 72%”.

Formentera officials also called on their regional counterparts to collaborate in the effort to close the water cycle, including upgrades to water treatment. Other requests involved work to open the Formentera Museum, and recovering traditional use of the island’s salterns.

20 February 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Two-year ‘Patrimony Plan’ passed at full-house session covers historical memory and intangible heritage

foto-2020-ple-generDecision makers gathered today for the local government’s January plenary session. The assembly brought cross-party support for the 2020-2021 “Island Patrimony Plan” (Pla Insular de Patrimoni)—a plan which includes strategies for managing Formentera’s tangible and intangible heritage.

Department chief Raquel Guasch described the document as “a roadmap for our present and future heritage strategies”. “The incorporation of many uncompleted actions from this plan’s predecessor means it’s technically a plan that stays the course”, she said, adding: “It’s a realistic one as well, because the emphasis is on initiatives and actions seen as workable. Meanwhile, what makes the plan innovative is its focus on Es Campament, listed as a cultural heritage site since 2013, and suggested strategies relative to intangible heritage—the creation of an immaterial heritage advisory committee, for instance, as well as the designation of traditional dance and homespun redoblat singing as ‘immaterial heritage’”.

Assembly members voted to approve not only the formation of the advisory committee but the group’s operational procedures as well. Ms Guasch pointed out that the new document calls for a special “protection plan” for one site in particular regarded as being of notable historical interest: Ses Salines nature reserve. The department chief called on other administrations and groups for help implementing the plan, and commended what she called “a true group effort” by heritage department personnel.

With “yes” votes from the governing team and the abstention of the opposition, one measure also to receive backing was brought by local education chief Susana Labrador. “This is a rejection of educational models and measures that violate children’s right to integrative learning rooted in democratic principles like equality, tolerance and respect for diversity”. Also expressed is the Formentera government’s support of school autonomy and complementary extracurricular activities that are consistent with educational criteria. The text urges the Balearic government to block political and partisan interference in schools and to keep working to move the new education bill through the legislature, while it calls on Formentera’s own government to “continue programming activities for schools that promote the values of equality, tolerance and diversity”.

Improvements to sanitation grid
Assembly members also agreed unanimously to urge the regional environment and land offices to expedite the processing of environmental permits for replacement parts and upgrades across the island’s general sanitation grid. Brought by environment councillor Antonio J Sanz, the proposal puts pressure on the Balearic Agency for Water and Environmental Quality (Abaqua) to speed up public tender of the work, describing “exhaustive revision to determine weak spots on the grid, a speedy start of construction and improvements to the grid to prevent new leaks of waste water” as “imperative”.

The session also secured cross-party support for two bipartisan measures from Sa Unió. The first calls for the maintenance, troubleshooting and, if necessary, replacement of prefabricated classrooms at the Sant Ferran school. The second involves Formentera’s adherence to the regional government’s “Electric Mobility in the Balearic Islands” management programme.

Report from Antonio J Sanz
At the conclusion of the day’s session, chief of environment and inspection services Antonio J Sanz took the floor to provide what amounted to the year’s first stocktaking, or compareixença, by a councillor on the governing team. Focusing first on efforts over the last seven months involving the vehicle roadworthiness testing site (ITV), Sanz underscored new personnel, the creation of a pool of available service inspectors, a return to normal with respect to wait times and the broader service, plus more upgrades currently in the works.

As for the environment, Sanz spoke about the substation and turbine at Es Ca Marí, meetings between neighbours and the Balearic environment ministry and short-term corrective measures like the installation of a third cable to allow for replacement of the turbine.

On waste management, Sanz offered that recent months had seen “tireless work to hammer out the details of the latest tendering of the waste management contract so that the new service accommodates current and forward expectations”.

Sanz also reminded assembly members of the environment department’s advancement of the proposal to ban single-use plastics in administration offices—an initiative that is currently being tendered. He also highlighted a new programme to reuse pallets at the waste processing centre, promising figures regarding organic waste collection, a newly robust pick-up service and a string of projects that have received funding from the Save Posidonia Project. In addition, the councillor described progress in the effort to regulate moorage at Estany des Peix, reported on the latest meetings around improvements to the local sanitation grid, and held up the Formentera government’s recent decision to declare climate emergency.

31 January 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Formentera asks Madrid to consider acute isolation of islands

foto-reunio---alejandra-ferrerAlejandra Ferrer sat down today at the seat of local government with Patricia Abascal, thanking the senator for the chance to meet and taking the opportunity to impress on her the island’s principal appeals in hopes she will defend them before the central government in Madrid.

The Formentera president reiterated the importance of “a special system of funding [called the ‘Special Balearic Regime’, or REB] reflecting Formentera’s situation of triple insularity”. While discussing calls for the creation of a local magistrate’s court, the two officials also identified another imperative: bridging the gap between residents and municipal services.

Another bullet point involved developing the Sustainable Development Goals as a pathway to tackling and preventing climate change. President Ferrer highlighted the local administration’s efforts to reshape municipal housing ordinances in an effort to create a year-round stock of available-for-rent housing to protect the basic right to housing of people on Formentera.

Senator Abascal, for her part, insisted that one of her priorities was “raising awareness about the islands and the living conditions of those who call them home”, stressing “people in the Balearics have needs and our colleagues in Madrid must listen to them and do their best to understand them and look for solutions”. Abascal reasoned such particularities warranted the programming of a conference about insularity and autonomous municipalities. President Ferrer pledged she would discuss Formentera’s specific issues with the senator so they could be addressed at the event.

6 February 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Rain- and windstorm leaves Formentera with 3 fallen trees

foto 2020 temporal 4A cocktail of rain and wind was behind multiple reports of incidents last night on Formentera. At 8.35pm, the call was received that a stray branch and whole pine tree lay blocking Es Cap de Barbaria highway a kilometre from the Can Ramon roundabout. Local police directed traffic while members of the Consell de Formentera fire brigade cleared the road of both obstructions.

An additional tip came through at 7.11am this morning that a fallen tree crosscut Es Cap de Barbaria highway near the transfer station. Local law enforcement again provided support while crews removed it, and by 8.30am the operation was reported complete.

Fire crews were also called to duty last night at 9.30pm to clear the road of construction barriers lying strewn across the thoroughfare in Sant Ferran. Another caller alerted crews to tanks blown into the street from the nearby site of the future home for the elderly. The municipal roads crew responded to the latter incident, not to mention to other reports of road signs blown from the posts.

Felled tree in Es Pujols
In the early hours of the morning another tree fell beside the waterfront promenade in Es Pujols. A cleaning crew on contract from the local government was dispatched to remove it. The works brigade has already begun the task of removing a shade-giving arbour in Es Pujols’ Plaça d’Europa that was snapped in half by strong wind gusts. A similar arbour was cleared from the outdoor area of the municipal swimming pool.

112 emergency response received numerous reports of power outages.

20 January 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

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