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Formentera green-lights tweak of local directive to enable land handoff, build of children's park in Sant Ferran

ple-marc---2019 premsa1In a plenary assembly convened today by the Formentera Council, Gent per Formentera, PSOE and PP party members voted to approve proposed changes to the island's Pla Territorial (“Land Strategy”) laying the groundwork for course corrections and upgrades in new rules. Land councillor Alejandra Ferrer said the revisions were necessary for “compliance with regulations, adapting to new needs and correcting errors that have come up”.

Among the changes Ferrer enumerated, one was made possible by a deal concerning a plot of land in Sant Ferran. The accord gets the ball rolling on a land handoff which will open the door to construction of a new children's park (part of the island's participatory spending initiative), not to mention another land grant—this time to the Balearic housing authority, or IBAVI—so that low-cost public housing can be constructed in Sant Ferran.

CENF directives
With “yes” votes from the GxF, PSOE and Compromís and a “no” from the PP, approval was secured by an early motion to vet the use and operations directive for the island's “Nautical Sports Centre” (Centre d'Esports Nàutics de Formentera, or CENF).

The CENF build is still pending authorisation from the Balearic coastal authority (Demarcació de Costes). The facility will consist of two distinct spaces, said CiF sport councillor Jordi Vidal, “one for administrative offices and social and educational initiatives related to the sea, and another for nautical sports”.

The directive also covers the way Formentera's “Municipal Sailing School” (EMVF) is used. The EMVF will have access to CENF facilities and equipment to conduct sailing activities included in the “quality school” programme. Club Surf Formentera and the Balearic sailing federation have both collaborated in the programme for the last several years.

Waste transfer
Plenary members also signed off unanimously on a proposal about services offered by UTE GIREF, the firm contracted to transport waste to Eivissa. Environment councillor Daisee Aguilera pointed out that this year the island sent 500 tonnes, or 8.5 per cent, less rubbish to the transfer plant. The Formentera Council is responsible for meeting these costs, which, compared to 2017, are down €70,800.

Other disposables carry no associated transfer costs because they are already footed by recycling firms. Aguilera pointed out that recycling is at 29 per cent, putting Formentera residents ahead of most of their neighbours in the Balearics.

Report from culture, education and heritage councillor
Culture, education and heritage councillor Susana Labrador spoke to members of the day's session about her departments' work over the last year.

Among the range of initiatives under way, Labrador trumpeted the remodel of la Mola lighthouse. When work finished in January, upwards of two thousand people went to visit the space as part of a full month of open day events at the weekend. She indicated the museum side of the project is not far off and put the opening in early summer.

Labrador highlighted collaboration between the Council and Govern as key to bringing the Formentera museum closer to reality—not to mention the purchase of sa Senieta, which will house the museum seat.

Labrador underscored upgrades and expansion of the year-long programme of cultural activities put together by the CiF culture department in an effort, she said, “to be inclusive of every form of artistic expression and style”.

Turning to education, Labrador assured her department is “in it for keeps on early learning policies with clear objectives: quality education, no waiting lists in 2019, and vouchers—for enrolment and the cafeteria—to remove barriers facing children from lower income families”.

Labrador also called attention to the breadth of Catalan language courses available through the “Language Advisory Service” (Servei d'Assessorament Lingüístic), not to mention a suite of other consulting and support services for the Council's entire network of departments.

Official statements
In addition, assembly members voted in favour of two official proclamations: one concerning International Women's Day on March 8 (GxF, PSOE and Compromís party reps voted “yes” alongside PP abstention).

Council members signed off wholesale on a declaration of support to keep spills and pollutants out of the Mediterranean Sea.

March 29, 2019
Àrea de Comunicació
Formentera Council

Councillors meet in plenary to OK plan to regulate vehicle ingress on island

ple-marc---extraordinari prems2The Formentera Council convened a special full assembly where the “yes” votes of Gent per Formentera (GxF) cabinet councillors and Socialist councillors, and despite the abstention of Popular Party and Compromís councillors, meant approval of a deal between the Govern balear and the Formentera Council to mount and manage floating pontoons and environmentally-friendly buoys at Estany des Peix pond in the Eivissa-Formentera ses Salines reserve.

Under the deal the Formentera Council will oversee watercraft moorage at Estany des Peix once the Palma administration completes a related plan and secures approval of it by the coastal authority. CiF environment councillor Daisee Aguilera praised the move, saying it “would finally give the Formentera Council the power to recover one of the island's trademark natural sites”.

Managing vehicle entry
The full-house assembly also brought approval, thanks to “yes” votes from GxF and PSOE party reps and despite PP and Compromís abstention, for the proposal to cap vehicle ingress and establish a period of limited entry, circulation and parking on local public roads in 2019.

Assembly members voted similarly on a fee for the entry, circulation and parking permit, and again on the tax ordinance regulating it.

Mobility councillor Rafael González pointed out that the programme's rollout would be limited to July 1-August 31, and that starting April 15 related information could be found at formentera.eco. Tourists can pre-register on the platform and, from mid-May, complete the normal registration. The website will also be a place where islanders can obtain permits for private vehicles or confirm authorisation (“blue zone” parking clearance will automatically entitle motorists to bring their vehicle, park and drive on the island during the period of regulation).

González added that this year the cost of a permit would be symbolic. Visitors from outside the islands will pay a euro per day to bring a car and fifty cents a day for scooters. He hailed the advance of what he styled as a “grassroots initiative with origins in the Consell d'Entitats” as well as the announcement that “2019 is the first year Formentera won't have more vehicles in summer than it did the previous year”. “This is not just a win for Formentera's sustainability”, he insisted, “it brings us closer to balance between tourism and a healthy environment, and to ensuring that both visitors and islanders get what they want out of the island”.

Councillor-elect Verónica Castelló also assumed her seat as Compromís party representative, filling a position left vacant by Omar Juan.

March 27, 2019
Formentera Council
Àrea de Comunicació

Local security council convenes

reunio2019 junta-local-de-seguretatMembers of the island's Junta Local de Seguretat (Local Security Council) came together earlier today in a gathering co-chaired by Formentera Council president Jaume Ferrer and Palma's envoy on the island, Rosario Sánchez. The meeting was also attended by a host of other officials —provincial transit chief Francisca Ramis, CiF deputy chair Susana Labrador, presidential cabinet councillor Bartomeu Escandell, mobility councillor Rafael González and social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada—, spokespeople of other parties, representatives of the Guardia Civil, National and Local Police and Civil Protection.

President Ferrer described the annual pre-summer encounter as a way to “take stock of the previous season and coordinate the security forces' joint efforts ahead in the coming season”. Others in the administration reiterated calls for local traffic and marine details of the Guardia Civil. Ferrer announced the planned expansion of the local police force—“bringing the total number of officers to 16, five more than last summer”.

The president additionally announced the administration's bid to join Viogén, an integrated system of the Spanish ministry of interior to track gender violence. Rosario Sánchez, for her part, hailed the Council's adhesion to the compact, as well as the decision to sign a protocol of “gender violence victim protection, because it is everyone's responsibility to fight gender violence and help victims”.

Sánchez observed that “security on the island is in good shape thanks to the efforts of the Formentera Local Pocal Police, Guardia Civil, and National Police forces”. Collaboration between law enforcement agencies help reduce unlawfulness by 14 per cent in the last year, she noted, pointing out increased street patrols and the Guardia Civil's new expanded hours. In the past, the Guardia Civil was open to the public mornings from Monday to Friday. They will now be available Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 9.00pm, and weekend mornings.

Formentera Council
Àrea de Comunicació
March 20, 2019

Formentera Council points out courts have consistently ruled in favour of administration, prosecutor finds no evidence of wrongdoing in Punta Prima case

foto-rp-punta-prima1The Formentera Council chair and deputy chair, Jaume Ferrer and Bartomeu Escandell, met for a noon press conference today to discuss the criminal suit brought by businessman Leo Stöber against the two officials, Pep Mayans, Sílvia Tur, Sònia Cardona and other Gent per Formentera councillors in the cabinet from 2007 to 2011 for blocking an expansion of housing in Punta Prima. Also on hand was the pair's defence attorney, Fernando Mateas.

Mateas, pointing out that the Balearic high court and the Spanish supreme court alike vetted the island's “Land Strategy” (Pla Territorial), concluded “the Council conducted itself exactly as it should have. That's not an opinion; it's a fact”. Mateas indicated that Stöber filed his criminal suit as soon as he learned the judge had ruled against him in the contentious litigation with the Council.

The public prosecutor had previously issued the opinion that no crime had been committed, clarifying that “the only one bringing charges here is Stöber himself; the prosecutor's office has not brought any charges”. Mateas framed the action as nuisance litigation and said his clients were already feeling the character-sullying squeeze of the attending media storm. But he made it clear that there was no need for drama. “Court appearances are sometimes a fact of life”, said Mateas, “and certainly nothing to be afraid of when you're in the right”.

Jaume Ferrer admitted he was “surprised” by the start the suit had gotten off to—particularly after all the court rulings in Council's favour and the DA had indicated his intention not to prosecute. “Leo Stöber sees these court cases as a way to generate pressure so things go his way”, Ferrer said. “But ses Salines nature reserve's Pla d'Ordenació de Recursos Naturals ['Natural Resource Strategy'] prohibits the granting of tourism permits in this area of the island. “Stöber is accusing us of a crime we haven't committed in an bid to compel us to commit one in his favour”, observed Ferrer. “To grant building permits on land where construction is illegal would be a crime”, he reasoned, “and we've always put islanders' interests first. We'll continue to do just that”.

For his part, Bartomeu Escandell insisted “we're here today to preserve this site and limit building to lawful initiatives only”. “It's crucial we remember that the decision to apply current environmental regulations in Punta Prima has already received the approval of the Balearic high court and the Spanish supreme court”.

Formentera Council
Àrea de Comunicació
March 26, 2019

IB3 hosts debate on Formentera

eldebatformentera-1-1At 6.00pm this Thursday, March 21, the IB3 television crew will be at the cinema (Sala de Cultura) shooting El Debat. Journalist Elena Gregori will moderate as representatives of the parties of the Formentera Council (Gent per Formentera, PP, PSOE and Compromís) engage in debate. Admission to the event is free and open to all.

March 19, 2019
Àrea de Comunicació
Formentera Council

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