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Formentera to put funds from tourist-use rentals towards improvements in Es Pujols and Es Ca Marí

platja es pujols premsaToday Formentera's committee on matters related to tourism, la Comissió Turística, held an extraordinary session to report on money collected through tourist-rental certifications. In the last two years, €833,168 has been collected as payments for 1,150 tourist rental permits on a total ultimately projected to reach €2,054,819. As payments are often made in instalments the total sum has yet to be received in full.

The committee green-lighted a proposal to funnel the collected money into Es Pujols improvementprojects like sanitation and other activities in the town's centre. In the words of tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer, some of the actions will be aimed at diversification away from seasonal tourism. Plans are also under way to draft a sanitation and improvements plan in Es Ca Marí.

According to Ferrer, 181 spots for tourist accommodation can still be obtained, either to legalise heretofore illegal rentals or for new dwellings. The committee's membership includes stakeholders in civil society, members of the business community, political parties with CiF plenary representation and the CCOO and UGT trade unions. Part of the committee's mission is to decide on the investments that will be made in areas such as seasonal diversification, development and promotion of tourist activities, urban improvements and training opportunities.

New inspection unit of CiF's land and tourism offices tallied 400 checks this summer

foto servei dinspeccio formenteraToday tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer gave an appraisal of the Formentera Council's inspection unit since its launch this summer. In its first months the crew, an arm of the Office of Tourism and the Office of Land, carried out 700 educational visits and 400 inspections.

Occupying public land
Agents reported 39 cases of businesses occupying public land without a permit. Thirty applications for permits generated €14,806 in revenue, another €17,664 came as payments on overdue fees and sixty fines were issued which brought in €17,861.

Commercial activity
Checks of 47 businesses led to the discovery that 22 were without required paperwork and incurred punitive fines. In addition, other controls resulted in 17 proceedings being brought for illegal commercial activities. In those cases, €90,628 in fines were issued, plus fines totalling €14,050 for failure to respect established operating hours.

Twenty-seven controls were conducted at seven of the island's rental car agencies. These led to penalties of €153,000 for carrying on business activity in areas zoned as rural and using public parking spaces for rental cars without the required permit. Activity was shut down at three businesses and three rural-zoned plots were cordoned off for that reason.

Tourism
In tourism, charges were brought in ten cases following checks of one hundred dwellings. One business with 17 apartments was forced to close when the owners were discovered in absence of the required permit. In that case litigation is being sought. The checks targeted a random assortment of businesses picked by a council task force to develop a summer inspections roadmap.

Forty-three thousand euros in fines were issued after sites were found to be offering accommodation online (infractions that were later corroborated with the discovery of guests). As for the task of regularising tourist-use lodgings, 173 checks were conducted and 354 new rentals declared, not to mention an additional 90 cases pending processing or checks which are projected to generate two thousand new tourist beds.

In urbanism in 2016, 51 proceedings opened to re-establish businesses' legal standing will also have punitive effects. Currently, 43 corrective measures have been pursued, of which 25 were completed. Since the start of the present legislative session, 60 of the 99 disciplinary measures sought have been applied in full. Thirty-three resulted in demolition orders, 26 regularised business activity through available legal channels (legalisation or partial or full voluntary demolition) and one case expired. Urbanism fines revenues in this legislative sitting total €242,883.

Educational campaigns
Summer served as the opportunity to collect information for various awareness campaigns this winter: clearing rural land, fixing traditional stone walls and revamping commercial signage in rural areas are just a few. Regularising tourist accommodations, an object of regular questioning and motive for new registrations, will remain a target of outreach.

In Councillor Ferrer's words: “The inspection unit, by applying limits and regulating both commercial activity and land use for tourism, aims to curb unfair competition and ensure the rules of engagement are respected, raising the bar in terms of tourism and social well-being.”

Formentera offers 15 courses in agriculture and livestock farming

blat amparo arias premsaThe Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture announced that this Monday, October 31, enrolment will begin for continuing education opportunities in produce and livestock farming during the 2016-2017 season. The calendar, which starts November 11 with a course on farming machinery, will continue through the end of March.

Department chair Bartomeu Escandell laid out his office's goal: “Assure a wide variety of courses and training opportunities, open to the public, for the island's farming and livestock sectors”. In autumn 2016 and winter 2017 a total of 15 courses are available in farming, animal husbandry and even gardening, with a course on drought-resistant plants filling out the catalogue.

Such courses aim to meet the need for “specialised training in agriculture, livestock rearing and agrofood,” said Escandell, as well as offer “basic training for individuals interested in the rural sector”.

Courses
Instruction will be given in the following areas: Agricultural machinery, Waste and fertiliser management, Biofertilisers, Basic pesticide use in professional industry, Beekeeping, Fig tree pruning, Fruit tree pruning, Olive tree pruning, Organic ecology, Integrated control of the red palm weevil, Introduction to stone wall repairs, Good health on small ruminant animal farms, Food handling, Xeriscaping and Integrated vineyard production.

The classes, which are free and combine both theory and its practical application, last between 5 and 25 hours and will be held at Centre Antoni Tur “Gabrielet”.

Anyone interested in signing up should visit the Citizen's Information Office in person from 9.00am to 2.00pm, do it online via OVAC, request info through the Formentera Council's Office of Agriculture by calling 971.32.10.87 extensions 3166 and 3165, or contact agricultura@conselldeformentera.cat. Enrolment will remain open as long as there is space available to ensure proper instruction.

One more snag-free summer for la Savina's metered parking

Aparcament la Savina premsaThe Office of Transport of the Formentera Council has announced that starting today, Tuesday November 1, winter hours take effect for metered parking in la Savina. Parking is regulated Monday through Saturday from 9.00am to 2.00pm and Monday through Friday 4.00 till 8.00pm. Free parking is applied Sundays and bank holidays. The current scheme will be enforced until May 1.

From today forward, vehicles can remain parked in blue zones up to three days in a row, whereas in summertime they are restricted to one. Authorised users can leave vehicles parked in green zones up to three days; for residents of la Savina, meanwhile, the limit —as in summer— is 15.

Glowing assessment
Transport councillor Rafael González gave a favourable review of the second summer that metered parking is used in la Savina. “We've had a functional parking system that has allowed locals and tourists alike to enjoy this part of the island,” said González, in a positive appraisal of the traction the system has gained locally. The councillor also celebrated timetable changes, pushed by the town's neighbourhood association, that mean three fewer hours of nighttime pay parking.

Revenues
Now in its second year, the scheme had netted the Formentera Council €180,000 in blue zone collections as of November 1. With expenditures for staff, materials, land and permits to contract harbour employees at €172,000, the service, says González, is self-sustaining.

In another note, from tomorrow the overspill parking lot located in la Savina across from Illes Pitiüses park will be closed.

La Mola lighthouse prepares to don veneer of cultural centre

foto ple setembre 2016At the Formentera Council's October plenary session, convened earlier today, the entire house backed a deal between the Balearic port authority (APB) and the Council on la Mola's trademark lighthouse, “el far de la Mola”. The plan, besides doting the monument with public facilities, envisions adding cultural space to the lighthouse's list of uses.

As culture and patrimony councillor Susana Labrador explained, the site will contain an interpretative centre for Formentera lighthouses, a museographic exhibition and a hall for culturally-themed, small-scale functions, which the administration speculates may spill over onto an outdoor patio. Currently the Council is drafting plans to remodel the building in its entirety. The project has a tentative pricetag of €600,000 and could be undertaken as soon as autumn 2017. The partnership, initially framed for 15 years, can be renewed to last another five. APB will retain control over parts of the lighthouse like the utilities room and its upper chambers to ensure continued functioning.

Morgue
Unanimous consent was also received by the proposed rezoning for a municipal morgue, planned for the lot adjacent the Sant Francesc cemetery. Land councillor Alejandra Ferrer pointed out that the site's rezoning will make it possible to move ahead with a call for bids on the project. The councillor, who referred to a forthcoming pick of a winning bidder, assured that “the start of construction and the much-needed building itself“ are not far off. All parties in the plenary backed the measure and agreed on its importance for the island.

Ferry landing
Another proposal backed by the entire house dealt with the agreement to transfer the docking point for Eivissa-bound boats from Formentera. Council president Jaume Ferrer described the proposal as “making official our council's deal with the other administrations in relocating the Formentera boat landing at the Eivissa port, basing it on the terms of the September 28 board meeting with APB”.

Ferrer took the opportunity to salute the other branches of the public administration — Eivissa Council, Govern Balear, APB — as well as civil society organisations like On Sempre for defending the wishes of the people of Formentera.

Plenary members pledged to continue working from a position of unity “to make sure that the new harbour station furnishes all of the necessary services” for Formentera's residents and visitors.

Housing
Also adopted was a joint proposal put forth by Gent x Formentera and PSOE to overhaul a law on urban property rentals. The goal, explained Alejandra Ferrer, is to set limits and establish the definition of seasonal tourist rentals as “any dwelling that a property owner cedes, either directly or indirectly and on a repeated basis, to a third-party, in exchange for financial returns and for a period of 30 days or less”. If the criteria are met at least twice in one year, the property shall be subject to the regulations on tourist-use rentals. Properly documented temporary rentals for labourers are excluded from the measure.

Land and tourism
Appearing before plenary members, land and tourism councillor Ferrer detailed her departments' areas of action, invoking “a smart use of our natural resources and surroundings” and aspirations of “breaking with the pack in terms of quality”. She stressed the need to educate visitors about Formentera and push them on social and environmental responsibility.

Ferrer also reviewed the recent launch of the Council's new inspection unit. On urbanism she pointed to a continued push to apply and enforce the island's code of “subsidiary regulations”. Speaking on housing, the land councillor highlighted multiparty support —between Formentera, the office of housing in Balearics and the Govern in Palma— for a report documenting  local needs aimed at recalibrating help money and reimagining moves forward.

Local commerce and artisan crafts also featured heavily among the councillor's plans, and Ferrer described a brand of tourism “that centres on product and market diversification”. She underscored, lastly, the importance of “improving the pre- and post-summer season”.

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