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Formentera green-lights funding roadmap

foto-ple-febrer-retransmissioCouncil members gathered today to celebrate the administration's February 2019 plenary assembly. Unanimous support was given to a preliminary proposal to record and broadcast plenary sessions. Councillor of the president's office, tax office and rural affairs, Bartomeu Escandell, said any islander with an internet connection would now be able to follow the administration's plenary gatherings. Retransmission of today's session was available for online viewing on the Formentera Council's YouTube channel.

Omar Juan Moreno announced he would step down from his role as councillor. CiF president Jaume Ferrer thanked Juan for his work over the previous four years. The message was echoed by Juan's colleague, Compromís representative Cristina Costa, who described the move as “understandable in light of my colleague's personal situation”.

Assembly members were united in backing final approval of the strategic funding roadmap for 2019. Escandell noted the plan sets aside more than €1.5 million to promote direct participation and involvement in associations, as well as improvements in local heritage and culture and other measures.

The money will go to social action causes like equality; the fight to end gender violence; youth; involvement in associations; local participation; special needs groups; associations for the elderly; education; culture; heritage; trade and sport.

A measure to back the administration's 2017 bookkeeping passed thanks to the “yes” votes of Gent per Formentera and Socialist councillors (and despite abstention from their colleagues of the People's Party and Compromís). As per procedure, the vote marked the final step before the figures are submitted to the “Court of Auditors” (Sindicatura de Comptes).

Farmers' co-op
Councillors came together to support the underpinnings of a partnership with the local farmers' co-operative (Cooperativa del Camp) to allocate up to €115,000 in annual funding to promote primary economic activity on the island. Councillor Escandell applauded the co-operative's efforts, including creating the chance for owners of farmable land to turn it over free of charge “so it can be preserved and our island's traditional natural beauty improved—all while upholding sustainable agricultural practices”.

The session also came with unanimous backing for initial approval of operations and use guidelines for the la Mola lighthouse facilities that the Balearic port authority has lent to the Formentera Council.

Maritime rescue and wells
Assembly members likewise gave the green light to two measures brokered with cross-party support. One entails requesting a Guardia Civil maritime services vessel and a maritime rescue vessel be based on Formentera. The councillor of the president's office described the services as increasingly necessary given the surging maritime traffic around Formentera and because, in Escandell's words, “the fact we are the southernmost island in the Balearics and the preponderance of sea traffic in summer mean Formentera's location is advantageous”.

The second proposal to obtain the go-ahead involves underlining the need to securely cover wells and other dangerous holes on the surface of the island. Environment councillor Daisee Aguilera said the move would mean petitioning the Govern's directorate general of water resources, the authority with jurisdiction over such matters, “to oversee a revision of authorised and unauthorised wells to ensure they are legally compliant, thus safeguarding against accidents”.

The proposal means asking the directorate general to apply measures to recover Formentera's body of water. “This water body is chiefly salinized”, said Aguilera, “and there is currently no measure in the Balearic Islands' water plan to recover it”.

Before the day's session was complete cross-party support had also come for a Compromís proposal to streamline renewable energy measures. Councillors voted wholesale to create a dedicated position within the CiF land office to facilitate such efforts, given that, as mentioned in the proposal, available funding from the Govern comes with “fairly strict” conditions and deadlines.

Report from councillor of sport
Appearing before the gathered assembly members, CiF sport councillor Jordi Vidal started by giving an account of his department's efforts in 2018, which included:
-Partnership with Palma's directorate general of sport to support values strategy. €12,500.
-Partnership with Fundació per a l'Esport Balear to promote local competitions, sponsorships, professional training, fitness and women. €100,000.
-Sponsorships to organise fixtures like the half-marathon, triathlon and the AETIB's Volta cicloturista for cyclists. €75,000.
-Private sponsorships for local schools. €18,000.
-Sponsorships and backers for the half-marathon. €20,000.

“Taken together that's €225,500, but we'll continue working to improve the situation for our local athletes and guarantee top-class organisation of local competitions”, said Vidal.

'Nautical Sport Centre'
Vidal pointed to the “already complete, soon to be operational, new and highly anticipated 'Nautical Sport Centre of Formentera'”, predicting it would be the “vehicle for connecting the island and its visitors to the sea”.

Among his department's other efforts, Vidal also highlighted the “Values Plan” (Pla Valors), the strategic funding roadmap for sport, the crucial role of municipal fitness schools, and a new sport gala.

Formentera reminds pet owners about leash laws

foto-ovelles premsa1In light of recent incidents in which dogs have attacked local livestock, the president's office of the Formentera Council wishes to remind islanders that according to municipal statutes, pet owners are responsible for “leashing or otherwise restraining animals on public roads” and “muzzling any pets whose temperament means it is recommended”.

The information has been posted at major notice boards and agrarian areas across the island, including a reminder that “violations carry fines of 30 to 15,000 euros”. The notice also provides details about the laws governing ownership of potentially dangerous animals and states the designation will be applied to “any canines displaying a particularly aggressive character or having attacked people or other animals previously”.

Department head Bartomeu Escandell encouraged owners of animals which could pose a threat to island livestock or animals like hens to “step up to the responsibilities inherent to animal ownership”. Escandell said that apart from injuries sustained by the animals themselves, the victims of such attacks are “livestock owners—small-scale farmers who are keeping local traditions alive and maintaining the beauty of our natural surroundings”.

From Monday, islanders in remote homes near Sant Ferran, la Savina and es Caló can request P.O. box

foto-bu--sties-sant-ferran1The president's office of the Formentera Council announces that from February 11 to March 31 islanders living in homes in rural areas near Sant Ferran, la Savina and es Caló can request a post office box at the pick-up point recently set up at carrer Mallorca, 15, in Sant Ferran.

The idea is to make it possible for islanders living in es Brolls, ses Salines, es Molí de s'Estany, sa Punta, es Pi des Català, ses Roques, Migjorn, es Carnatge and ses Clotades the chance to pick up their post at the new station.

Department head Bartomeu Escandell said the initiative followed “the popularity of P.O. boxes in la Mola and es Cap de Barbaria” not to mention “requests the service be extended across Formentera so that islanders who don't get door-to-door delivery can skip the trip to the Sant Francesc Correus location”.

Anyone who wishes to apply for one of the 150 available P.O. boxes will need either to visit the Citizen Information Office (OAC) in Sant Francesc and fill out a form or complete the process online on the OVAC. After March 31, the Council will inform islanders when their keys—one to get into the shopfront, another to open their individual box—are ready for pick-up.

One box will be assigned per household. Applicants must present proof they are on the island's register of residents (padró) and a photocopy of government-issued photo ID. They must also pay €25.

'Liaison officer' programme at European Parliament

foto-policia-tutor premsa1President's office councillor Bartomeu Escandell was joined by local police chief Félix Ramos and island schools' police liaison—Policia Tutor Pilar Daviu—in attending “Local police's place in schools”, an event at the European Parliament's hall of ceremonies.

Yesterday and today in Brussels (Belgium), the Govern balear's General Directorate of Emergencies and Interior organised a series of activities and invited representatives from the Formentera Council and other local administrations across the islands. Councillor Escandell also took part in a meeting and attended a presentation about the Policia Tutor programme with members of the Govern and European Commission.

Plenary assembly moves closer to regulating tourism statutes

foto-ple-gener-20191Today local decision makers gathered for the Formentera Council's monthly plenary session, a gathering that was marked by new motions to regulate tourism which will enable additional lodging to be classed for holiday rental.

Participants came together to give initial approval to a tweaking of a tax bylaw underpinning a levy related to administrative services in tourism. Department head Alejandra Ferrer described the new mechanism as “a €300 fee, valid five years, for administrative processing of a vacation rental permit” and a “€150 fee for remodels”.

Unanimous backing was also secured for a bylaw regulating the per-bed cost of permits to rent out accommodation. “Each household will be charged €70 per year per bed”, explained Councillor Ferrer, “plus five per cent for each additional bed”. Hence, the first bed will require payment of a €70 fee; the fee for a second bed will be €70 plus five per cent (€73.5); a third bed, €73.5 plus five per cent, and so forth. The maximum cost is set at €119.72 for twelfth beds.

Cross-party support was scored by the first vote on the so-called “Plan for Quality in Vacation Rentals” which involves setting guidelines for single- and multi-family homes. Ferrer described the Pla de Qualitat d'Estades Turístiques as “baseline standards for furniture, hygiene and the conditions that a particular home must comply with to be eligible”. Some of the guidelines contemplated within the Consell d'Entitats would require homes to use renewable energy, or provide space to park a bicycle. Twenty-six of the preconditions are non-negotiable; other criteria, of which there are 20, would be applied distinctly, and only 14 would be required for a dwelling to be eligible for rental.

One last order of business on tourism, a measure to modify a piece of legislation already approved by the Govern balear, scored approval as well. Councillor Ferrer described the measure as “covering a large swath of the 'Plan for Quality' preconditions as well as the non-negotiable parts of the regional tourism legislation such as possessing a 'habitability cell' or other similar document; presence of stand-alone water metres; and other green measures”. Councillors sought summary treatment of the motion, which passed with “yes” votes of the senior councillors from Gent per Formentera, the abstention of the Socialists and Compromís and “no” votes from PP party members.

Other measures

Assembly members were united in their support of the terms of a 2019 partnership between the Formentera Council and the island's Audiovisual Cultural Association (ACAF) regarding content for Ràdio Illa, Formentera's public radio station.

Cross-party support also came for a proposal to adhere to two regional protocols concerning children, one on sexual abuse (ASI) and another on sexual exploitation (ESI). The Council participated in drafting the proposed measures, which CiF social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada said included “one in particular that streamlines coordination between branches of the public administration that intervene in cases of child abuse or sexual exploitation”. According to the councillor, “it is imperative that we act with minors' best interest in mind and that the Council continue working to raise awareness among local groups about this issue”.

The assembly also came with unanimous support for two proposals formulated by PP party members. The first calls on Madrid to modify its spending plan for 2019 to include more money for local road upgrades. The second would urge the government in Palma to fund a direct line of school transport between Sant Ferran and Sant Francesc as well as improved general funding for Formentera schools.

Cross-party backing was likewise given to a Socialist measure to urge the Formentera Council to “put in place a push to educate dog owners about the need to use leads”.

Report to the assembly

Mobility councillor Rafael González appeared before the assembly to give account of his departments' operations during the current legislative term. He drew particular attention to the regulation of vehicle ingress, which he described as “of the most time- and energy-consuming initiatives under [his] charge, including for other members of the assembly, outside entities, staff and collaborators”. The work has given way to “a piece of legislation for Formentera's environmental and financial sustainability”.

After describing the path to approval, González described forward efforts to take up more small-bore aspects of the measure, such as:
-the application period
-the nature of the vehicle cap
-an associated fee, as well as discounts and exemptions
-the processing portal
-permits and decals
The councillor announced that the week of March 4-8, gatherings would be convened with the Consell d'Entitats and the so-called “Spokespersons' Committee” (Junta de Portaveus) to explain the proposed parameters of application.

González added: “If approval is secured, we'll be on track to have a system of regulation in place in time for the high-traffic summer months”. Until then, the councillor asked for optimism and patience “while the administration works on delivering on the proposal”.

Unanimous support also came for the administration declaration on World Cancer Day, Monday February 4.

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