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Today marks end of Formentera's development consortium

Foto reunio cfdAt noon today, Friday, July 21, the executive board of Formentera's development consortium (CFd) convened for the last time in the assembly hall of the Formentera Council. Administration chair Jaume Ferrer and chief secretary to the chairman, Bartomeu Escandell, emerged afterward to give statements to the press.

Jaume Ferrer explained that the assembled group of CiF members, Govern office holders and representatives of the Eivissa Council had gathered to disband the CFd definitively. As he pointed out, that end game had been achieved by the meeting's closing.

The Formentera Council will now assume control of the CFd's management and subrogate any of the group's assets and obligations. The Council has got until December 31, 2019 to invest the €4 million in the CFd's reserves. That spending is to involve heritage acquisitions, environment and sport infrastructure and urban area upgrades.

The defunct group leaves behind a number of outstanding debts. Payment of one, valued at €5.1m, will become responsibility of the Govern balear. A second debt, of €1.9m, will be split between the Balearic administration (70%) and the Formentera Council (30%).

Councillor Escandell called the CFd's dissolution “part of an effort to streamline local government”.

Core CFd activities
Created in 2001 to bring under one roof funding from both the Govern balear and the Eivissa and Formentera administrations, the development group sought to use investment to reduce Formentera's infrastructural deficit.

As Chairman Ferrer recalled, the group focussed on purchasing land—including the plots now occupied by the Formentera hospital, the Ses Bardetes children's park, the barracks of the Guardia Civil and the plaça de la Constitució expansion in Sant Francesc— as well as street upgrades in Sant Ferran (carrer Major), Es Pujols (carrer Xaloc), la Savina (carrer Ponent) and the Porto-Salè neighbourhood.

The first local body to subsidise repairs of dry-stone walls and other homegrown trademarks, the CFd also bankrolled initiatives to bury overhead utility lines. The Council has already reserved part of its 2017 budget allocations for subsidies of heritage-related improvements.

Officials visit site of cala Saona's third wildfire this summer

Investigacio incendisFormentera Council chief Jaume Ferrer and the Govern balear's secretary for environment, Vicenç Vidal, have paid a morning visit to the command centre of yesterday's cala Saona wildfire.

The blaze, which by this morning had burned across 5.16 hectares, took hold yesterday at roughly 3.00pm. Within five hours the fire brigade had stabilised the flames and by 11.30pm they declared the wildfire controlled. Officials expect to see the fire fully extinguished in the hours or days to come.

Jaume Ferrer praised emergency crews, forest service agents, Formentera firefighters and civil protection, Guardia Civil and local Formentera police forces for their swift response. He voiced his concerns about the fact that yesterday's blaze is “already the third wildfire to hit this part of cala Saona in two months”.

The first one struck May 20 and left 14 hectares of scorched earth in its wake. The second, on July 5, burned through 10.2 hectares. The environment secretary reported that of the 70 hectares of land in Illes Balears to be stung by wildfire this summer, a full 30 were on Formentera.

Seprona and Guardia Civil agents visited the suspected site of the fire's onset to investigate the cause. Thirty-one workers will continue working on the scene today to extinguish the flames.

Formentera celebrates as Council turns ten

Actuacio aires formenterencsLast night, in the plenary hall of the Formentera Day Centre, an audience assembled to celebrate ten years since the creation of the Formentera Council, an event that was overseen by the administration's former secretary, Marta Enciso. Current CiF secretary Ángel Navarro was there to take a look back at the legal challenges that, given the particular nature of its story, the administration has faced since its inception.

Also on hand to recall the unique period of overhaul was the man who played the role of Formentera's representative (or diputat), Pep Mayans. Then came Isidor Torres, who served as the batle (“mayor”) of the Ajuntament de Formentera, and offered the event's attendees a history lesson of Formentera residents' struggle for increasing self-government.

The first chairman to sit atop the new administration—the Council (Consell)—closed the ceremony with a speech that was full of gratitude. He thanked all those who had made the administration's restructuring possible and looked toward the future, explaining, “something we gained with the change from Ajuntament to Consell was greater ability to address our local problems locally” even as he asserted, “there's still plenty to go”.

Other attendees included former Ajuntament mayors Victor Tur, Vicent Escandell, Vicent Serra and Juanma Costa and one-time representatives Encarna Magaña, Santi Ferrer and Sílvia Tur. Also in attendance were Pilar Costa, who serves as chief of the Balearic Islands president's office, Santiago Marí, senator for Eivissa and Formentera, Ibiza's economy and tax office councillor, Gonzalo Juan Ferragut, educational envoy Margalida Ferrer and, the last person to chair the united Eivissa-Formentera Council, Pere Paula.

Spokespersons from the political parties with representation in the Council—Bartomeu Escandell for Gent per Formentera, José Manuel Alcaraz for the People's Party (PP), Ana Juan for PSOE, Omar Juan for Compromís—attended the event too. So did councillors on the CiF's governing team—Rafael González, Vanessa Parellada, Jordi Vidal, Sònia Cardona, Enrique Llorens (PP), Ana Negre (PP), Rafael Ramírez (PSOE) and Cristina Costa (Compromís)—and an array of former councillors and administration officials.

Musical entertainment was provided by Aires Formenterencs and hor-d'oeuvres were served as the evening concluded.

Administration celebrates ten years of local government

The Formentera Council president's office reports today on upcoming plans to celebrate ten years in government. At 8.00pm on Monday, July 10, the administration will stage a commemorative ceremony in the plenary hall of the island's care centre for dependent persons. Council chair Jaume Ferrer invited the entire island to come out for what he called “a tenth-anniversary event and a look back at how we got started and where we've been in ten years”.

Attendees will hear from former mayor Isidor Torres, the man who helmed Formentera's Ajuntament (a representative body later replaced by the locally-run Consell, or "council") as well as the Formentera official who presided over that period of administrative overhaul, Pep Mayans, and the current Council's first chairman, Jaume Ferrer. The event will include musical entertainment from Aires Formenterencs and refreshments.

The Formentera Council was incorporated on July 10, 2007, forty-five days after islanders cast their ballots in a May 27 election. Another milestone that year was the March 1 publication of Spain's official bulletin, the BOE. Appearing in the bulletin was an updated version of a regional document known as the Estatut (“statute”) of the Balearic Islands, which split the Formentera Council and the Eivissa Council into two distinct entities. The previous version of the Balearic statute, issued in 1983, had created one single council to govern both islands.

Formentera tweaks land-use ordinance in effect at beaches

Foto ple junyThe Formentera Council convened its June 2017 plenary session today. With “yes” votes from the governing team and abstention from the other parties, plenary attendees secured the go-ahead for a draft proposal to modify the municipal ordinance that regulates the use of Formentera's beaches and swimming areas.

According to environment chief Daisee Aguilera, the change, which calls for year-round application of rules that are already in place, “would mean derelict boats can be removed in winter, which is when most storms typically hit the island”. Aguilera pointed out that in the past the ordinance took effect only in summer, which limited the service's ability to respond quickly especially given the collaboration that was necessary from coastal authorities.

The retuning also does away with the waterside ban on animals like dogs and horses during non-peak hours (before 9.00am and after 8.00pm). The ordinance makes clear which points boats can use to enter and exit beaches, and, Aguilera added, prohibits stopping in or otherwise obstructing areas which are specifically marked for people to embark and disembark. As a safety measure, swimmer access to such zones is forbidden.

Regulations on kitesurfing
The overhaul also permits kitesurfing on Formentera beaches in winter provided the activity doesn't hinder other peoples' use of an area. Practice of the sport is restricted in summer due to the considerable amount of dedicated shoreline it requires and the added risk to other beachgoers' safety. During seasons of authorised swim, kitesurfers are required to operate from watercraft at least 200 metres from the coast.

Fence for children's park in Ses Bardetes
Two proposals from the PSOE that inspired unity among plenary attendees included a call for a protective fence to encircle the children's park in Ses Bardetes and another for improved street lighting near the hospital and Formentera's dependent care centre.

Lastly, two emergency measures that were passed with “yes” votes from the governing team and PSOE. One, brought by the socialist party, pushes for the creation of a local office of consumer affairs. The other, a Gent per Formentera proposition, offered support for a draft law to create barriers to exploring for petrol and other minerals in the Mediterranean Sea. The proposed legislation, which was passed in Balearic parliament and vetoed by the government in Madrid, is awaiting review by Spain's senate.

Council edicts
Members of the plenary green-lighted two Council declarations; one promoting LGBTI rights and another on hosting refugees.

Report before plenary
Bartomeu Escandell, chief of the president's office, the tax office and the local department of rural affairs, took the floor to apprise the plenary of actions across his offices. Speaking on the economy, Escandell said it was the “sensible and responsible approach” adopted by his office that made possible the current stability of the Council's yearly €22-million budget. That figure includes latitude to invest, something Escandell called “fundamental for a tourist destination like Formentera”.

Turning to Formentera's countryside, the councillor held up the farmland reserve initiative (Fons de Terres in Catalan) that recently turned two, plus collaboration with the farmers' co-operative which has meant 1.5m square metres of previously derelict fields are now being tilled. Escandell also spoke about the importance of safeguarding the island's fishing resources. Finally, he extolled the need to keep Formentera safe and congratulated local security forces on a job well done. “Getting it right with our natural surroundings and as a place where people can feel tranquil and safe,” asserted Escandell, “is its own life insurance policy”.

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