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Formentera and Colombia look ahead to cultural, artistic exchanges

foto visita cònsol colòmbiaEarlier today, Formentera Council president Jaume Ferrer and social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada met with the recently appointed Colombian consul in the Balearic Islands, Diego Felipe Cadena Montenegro. Afterward, the president thanked Cadena for his visit, which took place in the president’s office and, according to Ferrer, involved both sides expressing a desire to “launch cultural and artistic exchanges.” Ferrer described the process ahead as one of “sitting down with Colombian residents here on the island and finding out where the most interest exists for exchange programmes.”

The Colombian consul pointed out the presence in his country of a chain of islands –San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina– he said bears similarities to the Balearics. The Colombian archipelago’s experience, he noted, “could be of interest to the Balearics in general and to Formentera in particular.” Cadena pledged to help the Formentera Council establish contacts with the Colombian archipelago, whose similar geographical conditions mean “[Formentera and San Andrés, Providencia y Santa Catalina] have got plenty to talk about”.

According to Councillor Parellada, Formentera is home to nearly 200 residents of Colombian origin, a fact which places the South American country third from the top on the list of non-European countries with residents on the island. In the words of the councillor, “our Colombian communities are among the most active we’ve got. They are also very involved in the community and their connections go deep, which makes for a better experience for everyone.”

Central to Formentera's future: uniqueness, resident services

foto debat de lestat de formenteraEarlier today, the Formentera Island Council (CiF) convened a plenary session that featured the first all-party political debate on the state of the island. CiF guidelines stipulate that a similar debate take place once a year before the end of the first quarter. The first presentation duties fell to CiF president Jaume Ferrer, who gave an overview of local conditions and recent Council initiatives as well as a description of the main lines guiding Formentera Council policy, which he called «a preservation model for an island that is unique».

In his speech the president underscored the growing momentum of the Consell d'Entitats, a group of community representatives founded to promote debate on local issues, in addition to surging levels of local involvement around subjects such as regulated parking in the la Savina port and the planned Formentera landing relocation in the Eivissa port. Opposition to the proposed move has already been the centrepiece of several Consell meetings. In addition, President Ferrer pointed to consensus early on in the legislative session around a 14-point list of priority projects agreed on by all of Formentera's political parties. He also highlighted planned funding in 2016 for participatory budget items.

What is more, Ferrer spoke about the recent court ruling that overturned a significant portion of the so-called Coastal Law (la llei de Costes) as it referred to the specific case of Formentera. He bemoaned Partido Popular (PP) representatives' decision to break with consensus on such a key issue and asked that it not happen again. Speaking on the subject, Ferrer declared: «We want properties returned to their rightful owners, but not at the expense of coastal protections».

Consensus fighting landing move

Pointing to the broad consensus on Formentera to leave the location of the Eivissa-Formentera landing unchanged, the president asked Partido Socialista representatives at the plenary to try to «win the support of the socialist party and of [socialist] Govern president Francina Armengol» on the issue. He also urged the conservative party's reps to do the same, arguing that «with backing from the PP, the chances of having our voice heard increase». «We hope you'll do all you can,» he added, «and you can be sure we will too».

President Ferrer also spoke about a team of inspectors that will take to Formentera streets next month. The six-person team, formed of two CiF staff members and four workers with six-month contracts, will be tasked with «educating the public about municipal regulations and preventing infractions». «Staying unique means making sure rules are respected,» he added.

Officials meet to discuss beach safety

Foto reunio ss platgesAt 2.00 pm today Bartomeu Escandell, councillor of the CiF president's office, together with local lifeguard service chief Javier Asensio and service coordinator Sergi Martín attended a presentation by the emergency services of the Govern Balear concerning beach safety. Presided over by the Govern's director of emergency services Joan Pol Pujol, the presentation was hosted at the Formentera Council and was the eighteenth such gathering to date. The yearly pre-summer gathering aimed at educating staff and department heads on the evolving nature of water safety services was also attended by Vicente Soria, director of 112 emergency services, and Vicent Ferrer, officer of Eivissa emergency services.

The Govern officials spoke about the proper classification of swimming areas and of the requirement that medium- and high-risk beaches have a transmitter system in place. Similar systems must also be used at low-risk beaches with on-duty lifeguards and at beaches where there exist “multiple and conflicting uses” that could pose a threat. It was also reported that such transmitter systems are required at beaches and swimming areas where both watercraft and swimmers are present.

As for the hours of lifeguard services, timetables must be adapted to the area in question, the meteorological conditions at play and use patterns at each beach.

Further, on beaches with lifeguard services, summertime seaside concessionaires must also employ staff trained in lifesaving in the event that lifeguards require additional assistance during normal service hours.

Likewise, if a concession's hours of operation extend beyond the range of normal lifeguard service, staff of the waterfront concession are responsible for providing first-aid to beach users until emergency services arrive.

Among other topics discussed by officials were procedural improvements made regarding communication between the Govern's waterfront planning services and 112 emergency services.

Formentera condemns Brussels attacks

Foto  minut silenci BrusellesToday at noon, CiF president Jaume Ferrer and councillors of both the governing and opposition parties were joined by Council employees and island residents for a minute of silence to express their grief following the attacks on Brussels yesterday, 22 March.

Speaking on behalf of the administration, Ferrer condemned the attacks, offered his condolences to the families of the victims and wished all the survivors a speedy recovery.

Junta de Portaveus to consult local community leaders on port site

Junta portaveus 7 de març 2016The Formentera Council (CiF) Junta de Portaveus, a committee formed by spokespeople from each political party with Council representation, and Jaume Ferrer, president of the CiF, held a meeting to discuss the Balearic port authority (APB) and Ajuntament d'Eivissa-backed proposal to site the Formentera ferry station in the port of Vila.

The president described to Junta members the proposal transmitted to him by APB president Joan Gual de Torrella last Friday, which includes building “a stop in the northern tip of el Martell in the Eivissa port, where passengers will disembark”. The proposal then has boats continuing on to the commercial dock area of the port to dock.

President Ferrer conveyed the administration's doubts about the plan, which he noted provides for a passenger disembarkation in el Martell for Eivissa-bound boats from Formentera, but not the other way around. “One of the points that needs discussing is allowing passenger boarding to occur in that same area”, said Ferrer. He reminded Junta members that the current port authority plan lacks any such provision. The Junta has agreed to “wait for the meeting of the Council of Entities, this evening at half past seven”. Describing the goal for the gathering, the CiF president said attendees would “debate the issue with an eye to settling on a decision”.

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