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New OAC opening hours

Foto oacThe Formentera Council has announced that from March the Citizen Information Office (OAC) will no longer open Saturdays and opt instead for Thursday afternoon service. The OAC's Monday to Friday timetable till now —9.00am to 2.00pm— will remain unchanged. However, the office will begin offering Thursday service, 4.00 to 6.00pm. The tweaked hours were a response to sagging turnout on Saturday mornings and requests the office open one afternoon per week.

The Council additionally offers a similar service online. Using the Virtual Citizen Information Office (OVAC), residents can take care of 78 formalities via internet, including some of the most often requested, like renewing passes for parking in la Savina or ferry travel.

Formentera Council island president Jaume Ferrer's address on Diada de les Illes Balears

Foto discurs institucional-For 10 years now, there have been 4 of us-

Formentera, March 1, 2017

Bon dia a tothom. Thank you for being here today. We've got plenty of activities in store and your participation will make the day wonderful and festive. Thanks go to Espai dones de Formentera, Grup esportiu Espalmador and Asociación española contra el cáncer for working with us to organise today's fabulous walk/run and paella.

Today is a holiday not just on Formentera but on each one of the Balearic Islands. Though here on Formentera we've got even more reasons to celebrate. I hope everyone enjoys the day and the activities scheduled. I'm here to explain why I say that here on Formentera there are more reasons to celebrate.

Because for 10 years now there have been 4 of us.
For 10 years now the Balearic Islands have had 4 island councils.
For 10 years now Formentera has felt like one of the four pieces of the Balearic Islands Autonomous Community.

Though technically speaking our region has always been composed of four islands (not counting the smaller, unpopulated ones), that wasn't the political reality until 2007. Previously, and politically speaking, there were only three of us. Mallorca, Menorca and —sharing one single island council— Eivissa and Formentera.

Yesterday on Palma, I watched Isidor Torres as he received the Ramon Llull award, a well-deserved honour. He was the last person to serve as mayor of the Ajuntament de Formentera, our island's local municipal authority. He said —I remember it well—: “We want to be the fourth supporting wall of the autonomous community”.

Formentera was the only island in the country without its own council. Whilst the other islands debated whether or not we were large enough to justify our own council, we knew, for it was our day-to-day reality, that our island had outgrown its little ajuntament.

We seized the opportunity provided by the overhaul of the Balearic Islands' Statute of Autonomy. The unity of all our political forces, plus the combined efforts of Isidor Torres and Pep Mayans, bore fruit.

On March 1, 2007, Organic Law 1/2007, adopted February 28 and included in the Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands, was published in Spain's official state bulletin. It entered into force the following day.

A great change for Formentera.

Article 18.2, in the third section of the 1983 Statute, read: “The island councils shall be charged with the governance and administration of Mallorca, Menorca and Eivissa/Formentera and of their neighbouring islands”.

Article 61, in the fourth section of the 2007 Statute, reads: “Each island shall have its own governing body, an island council. These shall be charged with the governance, administration and representation of Mallorca, Menorca, Eivissa and Formentera”.

The 2007 overhaul of the Statute of Autonomy did away with the barriers set forth by the 1983 Statute that had made Formentera the only island in Spain without its own council.

On July 10, 2007, freed from the legal barriers which had historically stood in the way and driven by the desire to find political solutions in tune with our reality, a president assumed leadership of a council that was uniquely Formentera's.

In that sense, the Statute allows us to tackle our island's problems right here where they occur.

It's been an exhilarating few years. We were faced with the task of turning our local municipal authority into a municipality and council. Nowhere in Spain was there any precedent to serve as a roadmap, but we stuck it out and today we've got greater ability to self-govern.

We've got increased resources. Just look at our funding. In its final year, the Ajuntament de Formentera had 10.6 million euros. Today our Council has got 23.8 million.

Every day, more people wake up and head to work at the island's governing body. In 2007 there were 144 on the payroll. Today there are 278.

Overall, new institutions like this one and the hospital, which this year also celebrates its tenth year, mean improved well-being and growth. We've gone from 9,380 inhabitants (January 2007) to 12,945 (January 2017).

This gathering is a celebration of 10 years of the Formentera Council's existence. There will be more. During this special year, we hope we'll have the time to thank both the councillors that comprise our governing team and those of all our political parties, as well as Formentera Council staff and individuals from other participating institutions, all of whom have built an administration that is worthy of the great people it represents.

Before finishing, I'd like to thank the Govern de les Illes Balears for the hand it has played in organising today's activities, here and on the other islands. And to thank you, for listening. Molts anys i bons a tothom!

Save Posidonia Project, far-reaching push to conserve sea grass prairies

presentacio save posidonia projectFormentera Council president Jaume Ferrer was joined at noon today in the plenary hall of the administration's central offices by Alejandra Ferrer and Daisee Aguilera, tourism and environment councillors, respectively, to unveil Save Posidonia Project. With the councillors were CiF vice-president Susana Labrador, tourism advisory board head Carlos Bernús, and Pep Mayans and Juanma Costa, chairs of Formentera's associations of small and medium-sized businesses and hotels.

The president linked the 2017 launch to world sustainable tourism year and called the project “an innovative effort to promote sustainable tourism and deploy a plan to save our posidonia prairie”. Ferrer asserted the project would bear the imprint of all corners of the Council and the local tourism sector as well. “Our aim is to conserve not just posidonia,” he said, “but with it our beaches, landscapes, sea and way of life”.

1 euro per m2 of sea grass
The tourism councillor, meanwhile, portrayed it thus: “Save Posidonia Project will make it easier for us to explain our vision for the island to people from beyond our shores, not to mention the respect for the environment that we expect of the tourists who visit”. For one euro per square metre, businesses and private citizens can visit saveposidoniaproject.org or use the associated app to sponsor any one of the 76,500 hectares of posidonia around Formentera. They can also take part in the campaign by participating in local events like the island's half marathon or Formentera Fotogràfica.

Conservation projects
Money raised will go towards new posidonia conservation initiatives, said environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, who also took the opportunity to explain the sea grass' particular importance for Formentera. Plus, Aguilera charted a course towards the imminent creation of a body of international, national and local experts to provide guidance on the conservation projects afoot, campaigns which will be backed by prominent non-profit groups.

As summer approaches, Save Posidonia Project merchandise will be available at participating stores and hotels, just one of many other features geared towards bolstering the campaign's visibility. The overarching aim, underscored Aguilera, is to protect the biggest and most ancient organism on the planet and one that Unesco declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.

Formentera plenary pushes Govern Balear for housing benefits

Foto votacio ple febrer 2017Members of the Formentera Council gathered today to celebrate the administration's February plenary. During the session one measure on housing benefits, adopted unanimously, proposed pushing the Govern Balear to heed the suggestions and comments included in a housing bill. Land councillor Alejandra Ferrer called it “a step toward resolving the problematic issue of home rentals on Formentera in a way that takes into account the particular characteristics of the island and the needs that exist here”. Councillors also voted to urge the executive branch of the regional government to create benefits for home renters, bearing in mind, said Ferrer, “low-income families and €600-plus rental payments”. Representatives from all of the parties supported the measure.

Revival of Formentera's salt flat heritage
The plenary also saw the unanimous adoption of a measure to protect Formentera's salt flat heritage, an asset which, as patrimony councillor Susana Labrador called to mind, received official recognition in 2004. The text calls for urgent action by the Balearic Islands' coastal authority, Govern Balear and Formentera Island Council to prevent major damages to the structure that houses the “màquina d'en Palla” and restore other related sites.

Plenary members also voted to push authorities to work with the owners of the land where Ses Salines is located to implement a project to revive the salt flats. Such a project was agreed on August 4, 2015 by the ensemble of the political parties with representation in the Council. Councillor Labrador said that text calls for “the construction of an interpretative centre, restoration of related heritage sites in the park and creation of a network of walking and cycling trails that showcase the natural beauty and historic importance of Ses Salines, including signs highlighting plant and animal life in the park”.

Other proposals
Also adopted at the plenary despite the Popular Party's abstention was a proposal by the socialists (PSOE) regarding the central government's policy on awarding grants and urging equal opportunities and rights for all students. Support was likewise given, with 13 votes for and two Popular Party (PP) votes against, to a joint proposal from PSOE and Gent per Formentera (GxF), calling for policies to promote equality and curb gender violence as well as observance, March 8, 2017, of International Women's Day.

Official statement
All parties lent support to a call from GxF and PSOE to lift barriers to refugee reception. The manifesto airs concerns over the desperate situation of Syrians displaced by a war now in its fifth year. According to social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada the text also highlights Spain's refusal to meet intake quotas for asylum seekers set by the European Union in 2016.
 
Report from sports councillor
Sports councillor Jordi Vidal took stock of his department's efforts and pointed to targets on the horizon in 2017. He highlighted upcoming plans extend and increase by 20% a partnership promoting the values inherent in sport. Vidal also trumpeted the early go-ahead received to extend a partnership with the Balearic Islands' foundation for sports and the scheduling of two regional school sports finals on the island.

Vidal also held up one of his department's priorities: a nautical sports centre he said had already received the green light from the Palma government and Balearic Islands coastal authority. According to the councillor, the call for bids to construct the centre is currently being prepared.

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