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Awards for island’s first sport photography competition

Guanyadors concurs foto premsaEarlier today, Jordi Vidal, department head of the Formentera Council’s office of sport, handed out cheques to winners of the island’s first sport photography competition, el Concurs de Fotografia Esportiva. First prize was snagged by José Antonio Arribas, second by Kevin Cabezuelo and third, Beni Marull. The three Formentera natives walked away with awards in the amount of 300, 200 and 100 euros respectively.

A total of 26 submissions from ten participants were received for this first year of the contest. The prints currently adorn the hallways of the Antoni Blanc fitness centre. Councillor Vidal highlighted the broad range of sports represented – entries included everything from motocross to water sports – and encouraged local photographers to «start thinking about next year’s contest».

The jury for the event was composed of painter Robert P. Hawkins; photographer Juan Pica; Obra Cultural Balear rep Marià Castelló; Carmelo Convalia, reporter for local newspaper Diario de Ibiza and Councillor Vidal. The group met last Wednesday, 2 December, to deliberate and choose the winners. The winning photos will be kept on permanent display at the fitness centre. Councillor Vidal also thanked JJ Fotògrafs for contributing six prints used in the decoration for the event.

Class trip to new rubbish drop-off point

Visita deixalleria premsa

The Formentera Council's office of the environment has put together a field trip so that local pupils can get a first-hand look at the island's new waste drop-off centre. According to staff specialist Javier Asensio, who went along too, the visit is aimed at helping Formentera kids «learn how [the tip] works and see what garbage – when too big to fit in normal bins – must be brought here».

A total of 34 boys and girls from the Sant Ferran primary school got to see the inner workings of the drop-off centre. A previous field trip had provided a close-up look at the Formentera transfer station and the chance to see rubbish being weighed and compacted. In Asensio's words, the goal of today's visit was to raise awareness about where our waste ends up and the importance of recycling.

Formentera asks Madrid and Palma for help tackling housing crunch

Foto ple novembre 2015Members of the Formentera Council (CiF) came together today to celebrate the administration's November plenary session. Unanimous approval was given to a proposal tackling housing issues and evictions electric bill breaks for low-income homes. According to Councillor Alejandra Ferrer of the department of local land management, finding year-round accommodation continues to be the one of Formentera's big quagmires despite the Palma administration's efforts, including the present construction of low-cost public housing.

The Council of Formentera has also attempted to tackle the housing question here locally, through its creation of a legal status for private citizens who rent their homes to seasonal tourists, which Councillor Ferrer points out «could inversely help by highlighting the supply of houses and apartments not for seasonal holidayers». According to Ferrer, such a system opens the door to compiling a list of homes available for year-round rental.

To tackle the problem, plenary attendants green-lighted a motion to urge the Govern Balear to open a local branch of the regional housing office IBAVI (Instituto Balear de la Vivienda). The measure includes putting pressure on both Palma and Madrid to «adopt policies that actively support residents' right to housing and help in paying astronomical electricity bills».

Improving accessibility

The attendants of the plenary also unanimously passed a proposition from Socialistes de Formentera to draft a municipal accessibility plan for local buildings. Transport councillor Rafa González detailed his department's efforts on the issue and assured the Council's commitment to ameliorating a subject «where we all know Formentera comes up short». He assured all new infrastructure in Formentera is made with accessibility in mind. Opposition parties requested the change happen progressively.

Attendants also unanimously accepted a Socialistes proposal to create a digital literacy programme for the non-tech savvy. A proposition from the Compromís amb Formentera group also secured unanimous support. The idea is to create a sports volunteer corps, which, explained Councillor Jordi Vidal, will be overseen by the office of sport.

Smoke-free beaches

Another vote that garnered unanimous support: a proposition from Compromís to look into creating smoke-free beaches. The councillor of environment, Daisee Aguilera, said the administration «will study the legal viability of implementing smoke-free criteria either in specific areas or entire beaches». She stressed, however, that any outreach will be key to whichever course of action the Council takes: «This is especially a problem of education and that is really where we want to be making leaps and strides».

Plenary participants also approved a measure from the PP on illegal dumping. The councillor of the environment commented: «We are in the midst of forming a troupe of inspectors that can target this and other problems». Finally, the councillor of social welfare read out loud the administration's official proclamation honouring the International  Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Fifteen students graduate from integration course

Foto curs integracio novembre 2015On Thursday, 26 November, a group of fifteen students and one professor held the final session of a course on social and cultural integration. The short course was organised by the immigration office of the CiF department of social welfare and held in Formentera's adult learning centre, l'Escola d'Adults. Department head Vanessa Parellada was on hand to personally hand out certificates attesting students had successfully completed the integration course, and, in some cases, a parallel language course as well. Both attestations are required to complete the application for a residency permit.

This particular course has been offered twice a year – in March and November – since 2013. This year's group comprised a broad range of nationalities: Argentinians, Colombians, Pakistanis and Moroccans. In class, the students learned overviews of the values embodied in the Spanish constitution, human rights and civil liberties, the Balearic statute of autonomy, the European Union and gender equality.

In November, the group met over 20 hours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The classes, explained Councillor Parellada, are conceived for recent arrivals to Formentera who are interested in fully integrating into civil society here.

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