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Consell d’Entitats weighs formentera.eco scheme to regulate in-bound vehicles

foto 2021 CdE 1Members of the island’s league of civic leaders gathered yesterday at 7.30pm to take stock of 2020 figures for formentera.eco and assess the latest plan to limit vehicles on the island. When the Consell d’Entitats reconvenes next Monday, attendees will share feedback from respective groups and render their verdict concerning the project’s definitive approval.

With enhanced tier 4 public health orders in place, in-person participants at the encounter were limited to Consell de Formentera chief Alejandra Ferrer, mobility chair Rafael González, citizen participation chair Vanessa Parellada, a clerk and a senior Formentera Department of Citizen Participation staffer. Representatives of civic groups and political parties, together with members of the media, tuned in online.

Over thirty association members logged on for the Consell d’Entitats’ first treatment of formentera.eco. President Ferrer applauded the strong showing, calling the turn-out “crucial to making sure Formentera’s longstanding march toward sustainability is shaped by both political and economic stakeholders”. Ferrer confided that “2020 was very tough, and 2021 will be too”, but asserted abandoning hard-fought gains was a non-starter: “Backpedaling on our vision for Formentera is out of the question.”

Ferrer pointed to “unique visitor experience” as imperative, and said the secret to Formentera’s setting itself apart lay in “protecting heritage sites, traditions, culture and our physical landscapes”. “Vibrant tourism and a growing economy need to translate to better quality of life for Formentera residents”, insisted the première, “and to get there, projects like formentera.eco are essential.”

formentera.eco 2020
Presentation of 2020 formentera.eco figures fell to the Formentera Department of Mobility chief Rafael González. One year prior to the scheme’s rollout, local legislators aspired to ultimately see a 16% drop, punctuated by yearly -4% benchmarks, in the total number of in-bound vehicles, intending for the figure to be reached gradually over the 2020-2024 term. All told, 19,725 motorists got the green-light from formentera.eco in 2020, just shy of the established maximum of 21,487.

For twenty days starting 5 August and in the heat of the summer rush, visiting motorists claimed more than 95% of the total permits available to them (formentera.eco authorisations ran out altogether for the four-day period starting 13 August). The island generally managed to avoid maxing out entirely, Ramírez said, highlighting the decision to lower the permit ceiling for resident drivers in an effort to temper fallout from the pandemic. As the councillor put it, “What the figures show is that, the Covid crisis notwithstanding, regulation is still necessary”.

formentera.eco 2021
Proposal terms as communicated to Consell d’Entitats:
-4% ceiling reduction (relative to 2020 figures)
2019: 22,382
2020: 21,486
2021: 20,591
-Regulatory period subject to discussion:
Option 1: Last week in June until first week in September
Option 2: July and August
-Fee-based or free of charge?

Free advance reservations can be made in the permit request section of the formentera.eco site, expected to go online again in March. Bookings will be finalised in May and, pending developments of the pandemic, will be free or subject to payment. Permits are guaranteed for travellers with bookings for overnight accommodations or arrangements to travel with a personal vehicle made before March.

Sustainable mobility
By González’s lights, “the formentera.eco endgame is a brand of sustainable mobility where foot traffic, bikes and public transport all gain ground against cars”. He pointed to a number of routes forward on the path to sustainability:

Public transport
-€100,000 to restore Formentera public transport to the 2019, pre-Covid level.
-Free rides for people under 18 and dependent individuals plus companions.
-Public transport by taxi: engage chauffeurs’ association in discussion of proposed increase in seasonal licences as needed. Ride-hailing services prohibited.
Promoting bicycles
-Complete bike lane in Port of La Savina.
-Encourage pedestrian and bicycle travel on Camí de sa Guia between La Savina and Ses Illetes.
-Revamp parking and expand cycling zones at Ses Salines reserve.
-Encourage pedestrian and cyclist travel on Camí des Brolls linking La Savina and Sant Francesc with Es Pujols.
-Subsidies on purchases of traditional and electric bikes. (€15,000 in funding already available).
-Website and app Próximo Ferry provides arriving travellers with information about public buses
-Local sustainable mobility and formentera.eco information stand in Port of La Savina.
-“Metrominut” maps/leaflets featuring distances and travel times between Port of La Savina and Ses Illetes/Es Pujols/Sant Francesc to promote pedestrian and cycling options.

16 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Gathering of committee tasked with regulating and promoting tourism

foto 2021 COPTAt a gathering earlier today of the COPT, a local body whose purview includes regulating and promoting tourism, Consell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer and head of tourism marketing Carlos Bernús sat down with representatives of the Formentera Association of Hotels, the Chamber of Commerce, the local league of small- and medium-sized businesses (Pimef), the Confederation of Business Associations in the Balearics (CAEB), travel agencies and other local tourism industry figures as well as political party leaders.

President Ferrer unpacked the current situation surrounding the Covid-19 crisis, starting with the response by local government in the pandemic’s early days and before emergency orders were first invoked, going on to chart steps to loosen stay-at-home rules and reopen the island to regional, national and finally international tourism. She spoke about a potential path toward a new de-escalation of lockdown orders in place today and about the start of the tourist season, and concluded her remarks about 2020 by highlighting the local tourism sector’s “enormous efforts to adapt to the new public health orders that came last summer”.

Ferrer proceeded by unveiling local government’s draft plans for economic recovery in 2021. The tourism sector will have a fortnight to review the plan, present it to their associates and share their own proposals in a forthcoming meeting.

Though from these collective efforts will emerge a definitive document, President Ferrer insisted that “as with everything else since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the plan won’t be set in stone. It will be tailored on an ongoing basis to the state of affairs in public health and the restrictions in place at any given point in time”.

Working document
As President Ferrer indicated, the three-part document starts with a stock-taking of public health measures, controls and information in 2020 as well as proposals to make Formentera a safe-as-possible destination in summer 2021. Finance and tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell, also at the meeting, gave a run down of the document’s second section, which concerns economic measures to palliate effects of the pandemic-linked crisis engulfing tourism today. Carlos Bernús concluded remarks by exploring the document's third section, ‘Destination, marketing and model of tourism’, which analyses the island’s weaknesses and opportunities and discusses steps to readapt the island’s 2021 tourism marketing strategy.

9 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Consell awards 25 grants valued at €210,339 to safeguard local cultural heritage

foto 2021 paret secaThe Formentera Heritage Department reports that the Consell will deliver €210,339 in 25 grants (€100.144 for upkeep of drystone walls, €44,509 for work on cultural heritage landmarks and €65,787 for burial of overhead utility cables) to islanders who answered a call to rehabilitate assets of local heritage.

Heritage councillor Raquel Guasch said last year’s announcement of funding to preserve and enhance monuments received wave of interest, indicating that “in addition to preserving our history, these grants are about islanders feeling supported by the administration and feeling a shared sense of responsibility to safeguard our local heritage”.

Only five of thirty submissions were turned down, mostly because work being proposed wasn’t covered in terms. Grantees have 24 months from the date assistance is announced (or permits are delivered) to perform upgrades and supply proof of completion.

5 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera to direct €630K to hardest hit segments of local business

foto 2021 visita Armengol ajudes febrer 1Alejandra Ferrer, chair of the Consell de Formentera, met today with Balearic first minister Francina Armengol to present a plan to support Formentera businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis. The two officials were joined by deputy chair and local entrepreneurism and commerce chief Ana Juan and economy and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell.

Seizing the occasion of a visit to Eivissa by Armengol, the assembled decision makers discussed how to make assistance work for the needs of Formentera’s business community. Emerging from the encounter, Ferrer announced the two administrations would be unlocking €630,000 in support for segments of the community most affected by the crisis. Armengol asserted that the Consell’s “familiarity with on-the-ground needs and realities” meant it was “better equipped than anyone” to administer the particulars of assistance.

The agreements signed will rest on Formentera government’s split authority as island and town council (consell and ajuntament, respectively). As part of the “emergency programme”, the Balearic government has pledged €15m for island councils and €10m for town councils (Formentera will receive €210K in its capacity as the former and €105K as the latter). The island will contribute the same amount as well, for a grand total of €630K in assistance for Formentera’s productive sector.

Ferrer pointed out that the roots of the Consell’s special support for families and small businesses went back to the start of the pandemic. “Formentera will stand by those being battered by the crisis, particularly as highly restrictive measures enter into force to improve the public health situation and slowly restore freedoms and economic activity”, said Ferrer. “Disbursements will privilege businesses and freelancers impacted by the new restrictions”, said the president, “but we will also factor for those affected by the economic fallout from the unusually short season, and for those now gearing up for another crisis still to come, whose ‘how’ and ‘when’ remain unknown.”

1 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Public health at fore of Formentera’s January plenary

Foto ple gener 2021 1At the Consell de Formentera’s January full-house assembly today, participants connected virtually for an encounter that was largely characterised by public health measures related to the ongoing pandemic. GxF-PSOE cabinet members won cross-party backing on their first proposal, a measure dealing with Covid-19 vaccines.

First councillor and tourism chief Alejandra Ferrer defended the initiative, which found local decision makers pressing the central government to continue work with the European Union around international agreements to expedite production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, key to guaranteeing sufficient levels of local immunity and reactivating island tourism.

Councillors prodded officials in Madrid and Palma to ensure nationwide immunity levels necessary to restoring free and safe movement between the distinct Spanish regions and restarting national tourism as soon as possible. They highlighted the importance of creating safe corridors, increasing Formentera’s competitiveness as a destination spot and putting travellers in a position to get here safely.

Civil law on Eivissa and Formentera
Assembly members struck unity on a joint GxF-PSOE cabinet and Sa Unió proposal regarding fair taxation of civil law succession agreements involving the personal income tax (IRPF). In the words of economy and tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell, “our islands’ civil law must be respected”.

In defence of the measure and vis-à-vis a draft bill on combatting tax fraud currently under congressional review, councillors asked the central government to jettison proposed changes to an article of related legislation from 2006, and otherwise block any part of the Spanish constitution, the Balearic Statute of Autonomy, or legislation recognised by the regional government and parliament that perverts the capacity of local institutions to act on civil and fiscal measures. The Consell de Formentera urges the government and parliament of the Balearic Islands to defend diversity of local institutions as enshrined in the Balearic Compilation of Civil Law, namely agreements currently facing fiscal reform by the central government.

Fibre-optic connections
Cabinet councillors and the opposition came together to support a proposal to make fibre-optic connections available across the island. New technologies councillor Vanessa Parellada defended the measure, pointing to such technologies newfound importance since the start of the Covid crisis: “New technologies have enabled remote work, put families in a position to balance work and family and created new ways of socialising, gathering and sharing information”. The councillor said fibre-optic technology was to thank for “significant leaps forward in terms of universal Internet access on Formentera”, while insisting there were certain parts of the island that “continued to trail behind”. Councillors called on relevant administrations and companies to extend fibre-optic connections to every home, business, bar, restaurant, hotel and tourist establishment on the island.

Formentera, zero-waste municipality
Assembly members struck unity on backing for Formentera’s membership in the ‘Programme to Certify Zero-Waste Municipalities’. While underscoring recent circular economy initiatives such as the pallet and bicycle reuse programme at the household waste recycling centre, environment councillor Antonio J Sanz said still more remained to be done, and trumpeted efforts like the Zero-Waste Municipality programme, “which strive to cut waste and use resources in more efficient ways”.

After tweaking by cabinet councillors, one Sa Unió-backed measure to receive unanimous support involved extending the validity of holiday rental registrations into 2021 — a measure which built on the success of a similar Consell-led initiative earlier in the pandemic.

Public health proposals
One more Sa Unió proposal to win cross-party backing after modifications by cabinet councillors was a message to the Balearic government reiterating the need for urgent action to secure mass voluntary screenings with rapid antigen tests to pinpoint Covid-19 cases on the island.

In yet another unanimous vote, assembly members asked the Balearic government to increase the island’s Covid-19 services and accelerate funding to establish a local base for 061 emergency response service, including an additional plea for special resources to tackle simultaneous emergencies. Social welfare councillor Rafael Ramírez defended the measure, which was brokered by cabinet councillors and the opposition, insisting that “Formentera residents deserve a decent service just as much as islanders elsewhere in the Balearics”. Ramírez additionally pointed out that the region’s 2021 spending plan included a budget line item for creation of emergency response infrastructure on Formentera. The councillor concluded by insisting that “public services like education and healthcare that ensure equality need to be built up, not cut back”.

Unanimous backing materialised yet again around a cross-party call to require negative Covid-19 test results of all inter-island travellers. Once Formentera’s “perimetric sealing-off” is lifted and while certain islands remain in situations of risk, councillors asked the Balearic government to take steps to implement identical controls to those which visitors from outside the archipelago are already subject to.

Official proclamation on World Cancer Day
The January plenary concluded with a special proclamation marking World Cancer Day on 4 February. In the words of social welfare councillor Rafael Ramírez, “the crisis succeeding the pandemic has done nothing if not exacerbate the social and healthcare precariousness that people with cancer and their families endure already”. According to Ramírez, the Consell “supports cancer research because it is an essential part of the fight, and applauds the ongoing commitment and efforts of all the associations and groups accompanying those affected by cancer”.

29 January 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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