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Formentera approves Council's 2018 spending

Foto ple novembre 2017Council members gathered today for the administration's November plenary assembly, a session whose highlights included approval for the island's 2018 general budget. Vice-president and tax office secretary Bartomeu Escandell reported that a projected 12.78% spending increase would bring the total budget for the coming year to €26.9 million.

Escandell cited a more robust endowment from the region, including funding from sources like the so-called “Sustainable Tourism Tax” and the central government in Madrid. The secretary held up the administration's current zero debt load as a sign of its economic sure-footedness and proof “the Council doesn't need external funding”. “Yes” votes were cast by senior councillors and PSOE officials. Members of Compromís abstained and Popular Party officials voted “no”.

Core spending
The Formentera Council will make €4.5 million in direct investments on the island. One priority project to administer and create protections for local lake Estany des Peix will receive €400,000. Environmental safeguards aside, the budget is noteworthy for its focus on heritage site restoration. Escandell held up plans to commit €500,000 for the transformation of la Mola's lighthouse into a cultural gathering point. Money will also be set aside to get work started at Can Ramon, restore Sa Senieta and purchase heritage sites like Es Campament. Escandell pointed out that €1.1 million has been earmarked to build a nautical sports centre, “another of our administration's top priorities next year,” he said.

La Mola lighthouse
With “yes” votes from the cabinet secretaries and PSOE officials and the abstention of Compromís and PP, the assembly passed a measure to task Tragsa with the project's €765,550 execution. Crews will start in December and have nine months to complete the project, which involves rebuilding the lighthouse's ground floor and outer façade. Labrador said the changes would “rebrand the lighthouse as a cultural hub,” and promised “continued measures to protect this invaluable heritage site”.

In addition to an interpretative centre for la Mola's and other lighthouses on Formentera, the revamped ground floor will house a museographic collection on the local maritime patrimony and a multipurpose space for cultural events like exhibitions, concerts, conferences, recitals and stage productions. Besides a welcome area, toilets and storage spaces, the lighthouse will feature, at its entrance, a patio for open-air events both cultural and educational in nature. The remodel is possible thanks to an easement agreement between the administration and the Balearic port authority.

The session brought unanimous support for a measure urging regional heads of the Guardia Civil as well as the law enforcement agency's Govern delegates for Eivissa and Formentera and the Balearic department of public administration to reclassify Formentera's Guardia Civil station as “principal”.

Unqualified support was also given to a Compromís proposition to equip toilets in Council buildings with baby changing stations and put the important change at the centre of an outreach campaign directed at the private sector. The measure also urges the adoption of a similar overhaul across the Balearic government's offices on the island.

Plenary attendees were also united in approving another Compromís motion, this time to allow paperwork and formalities normally carried out in person at the Eivissa harbour master's office to be completed directly at the agency's Formentera branch. The Council, it was agreed, will urge the harbour master to dispatch an office representative to Formentera several days each month to tend to the requests of residents.

Full approval came for another Compromís measure, this one brokered by Gent per Formentera, to urge the Govern balear to equip their associated buildings with defribillators and require their presence in public places. The measure aims to assure such devices are in working order and that staff are trained in their operation. The Council will study adopting similar changes as well.

Formentera launches push to swap out contaminant

Foto presentacio campanya fibrocimentThe Formentera Council's Office of Environment unveiled details of a campaign encouraging individuals and households around the island to remove asbestos fibre cement in their homes. “Our hope,” said environment secretary Daisee Aguilera, “is that islanders make the decision to rid their homes of materials containing asbestos, and that they do it safely. It is not only harmful to human health, but to the environment as well.”

Interested parties can sign up today through January 15 on the Virtual Citizen's Information Office website (conselldeformentera.cat) or in person at the environment office on carrer Mallorca in Sant Ferran.

The Council is subsidising removal of related materials, transport to specialised plants on the Spanish mainland and the special bags used in the process. Initial removal costs, which vary based on the kind and size of material involved, must be covered by home-owners, though bills will reflect a reduction in the final payment due.

Factoring in subsidies on payments, the cost per 100 kilograms of materials removed is as follows: €40 for asbestos plaques; €80 for small pieces; and €150 for reservoirs.

Secretary Aguilera pointed out that Spain's ban on the sale and production of fibre-cement containing asbestos dates back to 2002. Materials containing asbestos are considered extremely dangerous due to component chemicals that pose serious health risks.

The removal effort will be headed up by Ca Na Negreta. Specialist José Antonio Pérez announced work would begin January 15. Prior to rollout, agents of Formentera's Office of Environment will run a cost study based on surveys of potential participants. The asbestos-removal push was unanimously approved by Formentera's plenary assembly in August.

Lieutenant colonel's send-off

Comiat del fresnoThe Formentera Council gave the head of the Eivissa-Formentera Guardia Civil, Antonio del Fresno, an official send-off as he prepares to relocate to mainland Spain to continue employment. Secretary of the president's office, Bartomeu Escandell, offered the parting lieutenant colonel a series of books about the history of Formentera. Also on hand for the ceremony were the administration's senior cabinet members and representatives of assorted forces of order, including Guardia Civil, local police, civil protection, firefighters, the island's small and medium-sized business association (PIMEF) and a coalition of hotels.

Formentera works to ensure safe access to nursery and municipal sports pitch

Foto cami segur cami vell1The Formentera Council's mobility office is overseeing a series of upgrades conceived to make Camí Vell de la Mola safer between Sant Francesc and the public buildings that house the nursery and the municipal sports pitch. The €15,000 project will be finished by November 30.

The project entails the creation of two lanes for pedestrians and cyclists, one on either side of the road, a change that mobility secretary Rafael González explained was primarily about safety. The breadth of the road —five metres— will remain unchanged, though it will be split in three: one 3-metre-wide lane for vehicle traffic and two lanes (at least 1 metre across) for people on foot or on two wheels.

Something else that remains untouched on the thoroughfare is two-way vehicle traffic, though the speed limit will drop to 30K/hour and signage will be posted to give walkers and bike riders priority. González says that under the new system, “when two vehicles cross paths, one must yield to the other, without disturbing foot or bicycle traffic,” two groups the secretary assured would always have priority.

Obtaining islanders' buy-in
The measure aims to “promote walking and cycling as an alternative to car travel” and “encourage people setting out from Sant Francesc,” —a mere 900 metres from the nursery and sports pitch, he noted— “to consider making the journey on foot, particularly since so many who visit the facilities are children for sport-related activities”. The most recent mobility study, conducted in August and October of this year, counted a high of 94 cyclists and 12 pedestrians in a three-hour period.

The upgrades are part of a pledge by the administration's senior councillors and the socialist party, PSOE, in the most recent 2017 budgets.

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