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New rules for parking at national park

Foto Ismael SerranoEarlier today, the Formentera Council’s office of transport announced a series of changes in the parking rules within the island’s national park. Starting this year, vehicle access to the Illetes area of the park will be regulated 10 May to 30 September. Likewise, residents and tourists that drive to the Es Cavall den Borràs area will also be met with parking attendants. According to department head Rafael González, the changes reflect the fact that the areas in question are largely spared by parking troubles during the low season. Regulated parking will be in place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the low season and until 8 or 9 p.m. in the high season.

This year’s biggest change has been the ban on quads in the park. The move, says González, was meant to prevent “environmental degradation, noise pollution and dust kicked up by passing vehicles”. He called the park “one of Formentera’s most environmentally delicate areas”.

Public toilets

This summer, four split-use toilets will be installed as well. The portable wood-sided units were chosen for their suitability in the surrounding environment, González said. He called the toilets “essential” in terms of hygiene, the environment and general tidiness at the park.

In addition, vehicle access to the park will be regulated for both regular bus lines and those that operate on a discretional basis. Regular service buses will be allowed entry at a rate of one per half hour, all day long and at no cost. Meanwhile, following terms apply for buses that work on a by-request basis: entry will be allowed one per half hour, but at a payment of €0.80, €1 or €1.20 per vehicle per parking spot (low, mid and high season). Access for discretional service buses is totally restricted between 12 noon and 5 p.m. The goal, explained the councillor, was to eliminate unruly crowds that plagued the park at rush-hour.  

Access will be restricted as well for vehicles carrying heavy loads and attempting to enter the park at high-traffic times. Those vehicles will be granted access before 11 a.m. and after 5 or 7 p.m., depending on the time of summer. The move, says González, responds to the fear that entry and exit of large delivery lorries-if uncontrolled-could bring rush-hour traffic at the park to a standstill. The councillor pointed out additional improvements to the park’s vehicle removal service. González described all of the changes as an effort to improve safety and service quality at the Formentera national park.

Formentera streamlines renewal process for metered parking in la Savina

Zona regulada de la Savina foto premsaThe Formentera Council's office of transport has announced a series of changes to the system for requesting or renewing parking passes for metered parking in la Savina. According to department head Rafael González, from tomorrow, 1 March, Formentera residents and businesses will be able to apply online on the OVAC (Citizen Information Office).

As the programme enters its second year, the Council is taking the opportunity to simplify certain parts of the process. “The fastest way to get a parking pass is to apply online”, says González, who also points out that new accounts are activated within 48 hours of applying. This step also allows for individual application data to be stored in the system's database, which is what enables parking pass holders to obtain free parking tickets.

This year residents will notice the disappearance of the decals drivers were required to affix onto their car's windscreen. Authorised green and blue zone parkers need only to enter their licence number into a parking meter and print out a ticket—“exactly as we've been doing till now”, González highlighted. Formentera residents are reimbursed 100% of the ticket cost, so parking in la Savina is still free.

The councillor of transport highlighted other modifications in the regulated parking system, such as the ability to pay a simple monthly fee. By paying €200 per month in summer or €100 per month in winter, drivers can forego the ticket system. New modalities have also been added. A 50% reimbursement for nonresident house or flat owners (and renters staying more than three months) means the monthly fee is cut to €100 in summer and €50 in winter.

Another change requested by la Savina residents has been a reduction of the blue and green zone parking times; they went from 9 a.m. to 12 midnight to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Info concerning the service has recently been updated on www.aferraliaparca.com, where users can have their questions answered and complete their application online. Additional information can be requested at the Formentera Council's office of transport or by visiting the Citizen Information Office, in person, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Plenary members vote to ban quads in Ses Salines park

Foto ple febrer premsaAttendees of today's plenary meeting of the Formentera Council have agreed unanimously on the initial draft of revisions to Ses Salines parking directive. Transport councillor Rafael González described the changes as “aimed at promoting sustainable transport within the limits of the protected zone” while still “conserving the natural surroundings”.

Among the major tweaks highlighted by the councillor is the regulated control of vehicle access to the park—from 10 May to 30 September for Illetes and 1 June to September for Es Cavall den Borràs—“a change intended to bypass parking difficulties in those areas”, declared the councillor.

Another policy shift trumpeted by González: “Four-by-four vehicles will no longer be allowed access to the park, given concerns about the damage they inflict on the surrounding environment and traffic safety”. Said the head of transport: “We've decided to regulate four-by-four entry into the park because it's the spot on the island where the traffic situation is the prickliest”. He added: “The Council is working with rental agencies so that these [four-by-fours] can be gradually phased out”, saying the vehicles known popularly as quads aren't compatible with the sustainable transport the Council is seeking to promote.

Regulating bus access

Moreover, the Council has moved to regulate bus access to Ses Salines in light of buildup during the most popular travel times. On regular service routes, one bus may enter the park per half-hour and at no additional cost. As for service-by-request routes, the one-bus-per-half-hour quota still applies, but drivers must pay between €0.80 and €1.20 for a parking space (depending on the season). Between 12 noon and 5 p.m., access is forbidden flat out.

As for heavy-load vehicles, typically carrying merchandise to area restaurants, “access will be restricted during the busiest hours of tourist transit”, according to the councillor. Transport vans and lorries will be able to access the area until eleven in the morning and after five—or seven—in the evening, depending on the time of year. Councillor González pointed out that other changes included updating the removal protocol for illegally parked vehicles. He indicated the revisions had generally been welcomed even by opposition members of the Council, which explained their support for the measure.

Parking in la Savina

Plenary attendees also voted unanimously to ratify the accord for a government commission that will oversee payment rebates on parking in la Savina. Explained González, “we've made some adjustments to reduce the administrative workload and streamline the process for Formentera residents requesting or renewing their parking pass”.

Escoleta nursery schools

All representatives at the plenary voted to support a proposed revision of the Council's interior directive on public nursery schools (escoletes) as well as the tax ordinance to finance them. In that regard, education councillor Susana Labrador highlighted increased enrolment at the schools in recent years. “Formentera's nurseries now accommodate 130 children aged zero to three, compared to just 38 in years past”, pointed out Labrador. She said that expansion proves the Council's dedication to providing the much-needed service to local families and, moreover, heralded a greatly-reduced 2015-16 waitlist (it comprised three toddlers) Labrador said was thanks to the opening of the nursery school located at the football pitch”.

Councillor of sport reports on recent action

Jordi Vidal, councillor and head of the office of sport, provided an account of his office's activity over the past year. During the report back, Vidal received positive valuations from all the municipal groups that participated. Among the different actions from this past year he highlighted the creation of Formentera's athletics school, the programme to promote sportsmanlike values, the expansion of opening hours at the fitness centre/swimming pool to include Saturdays and the new funding model for local sports clubs. He also declared: “Formentera is working with other branches of the public administration to create a space to offer nautical sports services”.

Formentera to coastal authority: make new walkways accessible

passareles 03The Formentera Council's office of mobility has contacted the Balearic coastal authority to request  «the removal of architectural barriers in the recently-installed waterfront walkway». The appeal was made by Formentera's councillor of mobility Rafael González in a letter sent today to Gabriel Pastor, director of Coastal Demarcation Baleares.

Resident complaints

The Formentera Council hopes its intervention will help solve a problem which has been reiterated in numerous grievances since December. Resident complaints have taken issue with the «design of the new duckboard footpaths at different locations along the Formentera coastline». The remodelled walkway follows the same path as before but «changes have been made to the height, the angle of inclines and beach access points», González said. The head of mobility noted that ramps at entry points have been replaced by very large steps.

Following receipt of the complaints, the CiF office of mobility ordered a technical report taking stock of the new walkway design. The report mentions «spots where walkers could easily fall distances of more than a metre» and notes other points of «difficult access to beaches, especially for individuals with reduced mobility and families with baby prams».

Positive review of the remodel

Nevertheless, Councillor González gave a positive review of the coastal authority's investment in the Formentera coastline and indicated it «is necessary for the regeneration of the island's dunes». Still, he said Formentera hopes for a solution that can combine «dune regeneration with proper beach access for everyone».

Hence the Council's petition to «eliminate the architectural barriers in the walkways installed in Formentera in the final trimester of 2015». In his letter, Councillor González highlighted the importance of «removing the stairs and barriers that are problematic in the current walkway».

González said the Council is ready to answer any questions on the subject and provide the coastal authority with any additional information. He indicated the Council's willingness to discuss different possible solutions to the problem.

Decision to slash metred parking pay period fuelled by resident requests, officials say

Ple desembre 2015 premsaThe Formentera Council convened officials and party representatives for the administration's final plenary assembly of 2015. The session was marked by the announcement that definitive approval had been secured for the administration's 2016 budget and of a deal reached by the cabinet committee concerning 12 comments on legislation behind a tax on holiday rentals. Tourism secretary Alejandra Ferrer said the administration would support the measure “as a means to an end to benefit a clear cause, namely the environment”.

The assembly approved the early stage of a plan to tweak the regulatory tax code related to vehicle parking in La Savina, plus a revamping of the regulatory by-law defining the town's parking services. The two proposals won backing from every group save for abstaining Partido Popular representatives. Mobility secretary Rafael González outlined the central features of the planned changes and, in response to requests from the La Savina neighbourhood association and representatives of area businesses, highlighted a rollback in the pay-to-park system's summer hours (metred service will be in effect 9.00am—9.00pm instead of until midnight), explaining that “no parking issues arose during that part of the evening”.

The other important change González pointed to was the creation of parking plans for €200 a month in summer and €100/month in winter. For full-time Formentera residents that amount will be fully refundable and for home-owners or renters in La Savina who stay on the island for more than three months yearly, it will be half off. González explained islanders could expect to see a phase-out of free parking decals as “controls will henceforth be conducted directly via parking metres”.

Individuals with reduced mobility will be exempt and not required to obtain a parking pass. The secretary also highlighted efforts currently under way to find an overflow lot where motorists could park a maximum of five days in a row. Representatives of PSOE and Compromís praised the metred parking system's inaugural year. PP representatives, for their part, criticised what they called “changes which were rushed through”.

The session also ended in unanimous support for the proposed creation of a regulation concerning volunteers for sporting events. Two PSOE measures that got cross-party support involved the implementation of renewable energy systems in Council buildings and an appeal to the central government in Madrid to protect the right to housing.

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