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Carnival 2016 crowds promised an eyeful

RP Carnaval 2016Earlier today the Formentera Council department of culture and local holidays unveiled the activities programme for the 2016 Carnival celebrations. Slated to take place Sunday 7 February, this year's procession is unique because it will wind through Sant Francesc, though, as department head Susana Labrador points out: «The goal is for the Carnival festivities to rotate across the different towns on a yearly basis».

Everyone participating in the fancy dress competition is asked to gather at 11 a.m. at the Sa Senieta parking lot, where signups will take place. At 12 noon parade walkers will set out on their circuit helped along by the tunes of local band ALLSEX. Processionists will head down avinguda del Pla del Rei, then, turning right, continue along carrer d'Eivissa until reaching plaça de la Constitució. They will then travel down carrer Jaume I, hang left onto carrer Marc Ferrer and finally turn left again onto carrer Santa Maria. The parade will then finish in plaça de la Constitució.

Anyone in fancy dress can take part in the running for best costume, and different cash prizes are available. Councillor Labrador heralded a new addition to this year's contest: a family costume category aimed at encouraging Formentera families to come out in style together.

Adult individual
First prize €200
Second prize €150
Kids individual
First prize €100
Second prize €60
First €300
Second €200
First prize €300
Second prize €200
Small groups [three to ten people]
First prize €400
Second prize €250
Comparsa [more than ten people]
First prize €500
Second prize €350
Floats [with vehicle]
First prize €950
Second prize €650

Once the Carnival processionists have finished the march loop, emceeing duties will be handed over to DJ Pharma, who is sure to get young and old dancing in record time - «this day is all about the fancy dress participants», summed up the cultural department's staff specialist Verònica Arenas.

The lunch bell rings will ring at 2 p.m. and this year's post-parade feast will be handled by the Sant Francesc school's parent-teacher association (APIME), which has promised a free lunch to everyone who comes dressed up. In the words of Councillor Labrador: «Carnival is always such an exciting event. What we really want is to see a big resident turnout at the festivities».

More activities

With the Carnival holiday come a host of other activities. Thursday 4 February a children's costume workshop will be held in the Villangomez library. The local youth centre – el Casal de Joves – has organised a series of activities for young people of the island: on Thursday and Friday afternoon, two mask-making workshops. Also that Friday, at 10 a.m., children of the Verge Miraculosa school will lead their own Carnival celebration in the Sant Francesc town square.

Good news for Formentera tourism: 757 new licences and 257 new rooms registered

RP Places TurístiquesEarlier today, the Formentera Council's office of tourism reported on the results of its most recent campaign to get property owners to register accommodation rented out to tourists. From the ratification of a municipal ordinance and establishment of registration fees in 2011 to this month's 17 January deadline, 757 new licences have been made available to local hotels and apartment complexes for add-ons to existing accommodation or brand-new vacation housing. Likewise, 253 rooms have been registered at already existing tourist accommodation. Tourism department head Alejandra Ferrer notes the number of available licences for tourist-use rooms has gone from 1,195 in 2009 to 185 today. Ferrer reminded property owners who have yet to request a permit for add-ons or brand-new rooms they can still do so. The numbers, says Ferrer, prove many Formentera tradesmen have done their homework and proceeded accordingly, motivated by a desire to make improvements at tourist accommodation or just make sure their rental accommodation has a legal standing.

Registered accommodation means more than two million euros

The registration fee for each unit of tourist-use accommodation was between €2,800 and €4,200, depending on the quality of the dwelling. Ferrer explained the Council's policy of «lower rates for higher quality accommodation» as indicative of the administration's goal to invest in high-level tourism. Owners have the option of paying fees in instalments. The Council predicts the measure will ultimately mean revenue of €2,177,000, which a special commission will be charged with investing. Ferrer said investments will likely include improvement projects in well-established tourist areas like Es Pujols, and focus on market diversification, R&D and leadership initiatives. There are a total of 11,667 units of tourist accommodation available on Formentera.

Council affirms it has submitted accounts for third-party audits over last five years

The Formentera Council's tax office reported today that in the last five years the administration has provided its general accounts to the regional court of audits – la Sindicatura de Comptes – and, it asserts, has done so since taking office. «The story published in different media sources today is false», declared department head Bartomeu Escandell, who attributes the erroneous information to «a potential point of confusion, stemming from the fact that in recent years the Council has submitted its accounts after the court's established deadline of 15 October». «Never have we neglected to submit our accounts entirely», he said, and assured «the accusation has no basis in fact».

Partnership with court of audits

In the words of Councillor Escandell, «the Council has an extremely good relationship with the court of audits». He referred to a partnership in place since December whereby the CiF submits its financial information for auditing by the Sindicatura. The accord grants the Sindicatura access to the CiF's accounting system and, as Escandell explained, they have the ability to audit both past fiscal years and the budgetary information of the different departments of the Council. At the time the accord was signed, he said, the Council committed to «full cooperation to facilitate any and all accounting checks». The partnership between the Sindicatura de Comptes and the Formentera Council is indefinite. 

Emergency geolocalisation system enters trial phase

Entrega tablets geolocalitzacióEarlier today, the CiF office of the presidential cabinet distributed navigational devices to the emergency response services participating in Formentera's code-based system to geolocate homes and strategic points across the island. The system will remain in trial stages through May, announced presidential office councillor Bartomeu Escandell, who added that «the first year is going to be largely experimental – Formentera is the first in the country to put in place such a system to quickly locate rural homes».

The different emergency services forces received only a brief explanation of how to use the GPS devices; Escandell said that «in the coming weeks more thorough and personalised explanations will ensure their complete and correct use by the month of May». The twenty-five tracking tablets were handed out to members of civil protection services, the local police, Guardia Civil, Ibanat, the Formentera hospital, the Formentera fire brigade, social services and 061 services. «Using GPS technology», explained Escandell, «the emergency response services of the island will be able to locate the 3,600 homes that registered and received a code or any of the 800 different points of interest across the island».

The CiF councillor said the goal of the project is to make Formentera safer, rendering it possible to quickly arrive at a home or public place in the event of emergency. Xavi Vila, the director of the company in charge of the project, reminded residents in remote corners of the island that emergency codes can still be obtained by visiting the Citizens' Information Office (OAC), emailing consell@conselldeformentera.cat or calling 971321087. The total cost of the emergency geolocalisation initiative – €183,436 – was met in equal parts by the Formentera Council and the Leader fund of the European Union.

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