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At conference, regional first ministers join chorus of opposition to planned prospections, surveys

Foto conf pres 2018CiF president Jaume Ferrer met today at the Eivissa Council with Balearic chief Francina Armengol and their opposite numbers across the islands.

As attendees prepared to depart, Ferrer described the day as “immensely productive” and confided, “it's always a good thing to sit down with the other first ministers and the regional president and talk about the issues affecting all of us”.

On that note, Ferrer gave voice to concerns surrounding permits for hydrocarbon exploration in local waters. “Formentera is opposed to these projects. We expressed it unanimously in plenary assembly, and encourage our counterparts across the islands to act in kind”, he declared. Put simply, “if we fail to protect our natural surroundings as ecological havens, we can forget about tourism and fishing resources”.

At the meeting's close, attendees formalised their commitment to keeping the Mediterranean free of exploration and surveying. They signed a document urging the Madrid government to join the Balearic administrations in blocking projects which stand to jeopardise nearby marine wildlife and the Mediterranean Sea at large.

Formentera rolls out lifeguard service

Foto socorrisme 2018 1Formentera's 23-member lifeguard and rescue crew, on duty since this Tuesday, May 1, congregated for the service's seasonal kickoff on Llevant beach. At 9.30am CiF president's office secretary Bartomeu Escandell made an appearance.

Calendar and service upgrades
Lifeguard and rescue operations are in place from May 1 to October 31. The ten-person team of waterfront watchwomen and men grows by five from June 1, before assuming the full 23-person staff June 15. The progressive descent commences September 15, when a team of 15 administers the service the rest of the month. From September 30 to the close of October, ten individuals oversee service.

In a departure from last season, defence towers have been erected at es Caló and Cala Saona. The rescue service's new jet-ski was acquired in an effort to improve and expand the service. Fifteen walkie-talkies were also added to the team's stock for the same reason, and to facilitate communication between distinct areas of operations. Lifeguards took part in a refresher course covering on-the-job duties like prevention and care for minor incidents like jellyfish stings and sun stroke.

Self-managed service
The lifeguard and rescue service is still today run by the Formentera Council. “We've always felt that our corps of lifesavers should be Council staff”, said Escandell. The secretary noted that thanks are also in order for the Council's efforts securing housing for the crew.

Accessible, cardio care-equipped beaches
Arenals and es Pujols beaches have access points for swimmers with reduced mobility. The service is available when the green flag flies, from 12 noon to 5.00pm, and can be commissioned by phoning 609 768 506. Every lifeguard post is equipped with a defibrillator in the event of cardio-respiratory failure.

April plenary assembly

foto ple abril 2018As the Formentera Council convened its April plenary session today, two measures commanded particular prominence: a proposal to block acoustic surveys and initial support for an ordinance on metred parking.

Stopping MEDSALT-2
Thanks to backing from Gent per Formentera (GxF), PSOE and Compromís—and despite the abstention of PP representatives—traction was gained by a motion to immediately halt review of a push for acoustic surveys. The measure followed a decision by the Balearic Islands' parliament to support a ban on exploration, research and harvesting of hydrocarbons and similar substances in the Mediterranean.

The plan's outwardly scientific appearance notwithstanding, and despite the reticence of PP assembly members in acknowledging the petroleum industry's interests in seeing such a plan come to fruition, recent weeks have attended an array of warning bells sounded by the environmental community. Most recently, Aliança Mar Blava has claimed possession of evidence demonstrating actors within the petroleum industry have already shown interest in the project. Namely, the group points to the fact that the geological salt formations flagged for exploration are thought by some to be potential nodes of petroleum and gas.

Even more harmful, say detractors, are the acoustic disruptions airguns used in the survey process would produce. It is feared that such noise could be devastating for undersea animal life. Species considered most vulnerable are whales, sperm whales, dolphins and fish held to have commercial value.

Parking ordinances
With backing from GxF and PSOE, approval was also secured for two distinct plans—one concerning metred parking, and another laying the groundwork for the parking scheme's financing. The metred parking regime will be expanded from la Savina to the towns of es Pujols, Sant Francesc and Sant Ferran.

The project is part of a bid to meet burgeoning local demand for parking by promoting more frequent rotation and additional spaces.

Departmental reports
Concluding the day's session was a report from Bartomeu Escandell, CiF secretary of the president's office, the tax office and rural affairs, concerning his department's actions in recent years.

The secretary highlighted upgrades to the funding Formentera receives. In eleven years Formentera's financial package has swelled from €3 million to €6.8 million. Touting an increasingly sharp focus on local residents and online operations, Escandell also trumpeted what he called the Council's firm commitment to dynamism within the public administration.

As well, the secretary underscored efforts to revamp the legislative underpinnings of coordination between local law enforcement in the Balearics. Other similar gains have been netted in restoring local councils' leeway in hiring police officers, thus promoting the stability of local forces.

Escandell described such legislative tweaks as key to the Council's quest, now several years in the making, to fill vacancies, not to mention create altogether new positions, on the force. Council officials say that if everything goes according to plan, the new officers will be on the force in time for this year's high season. Escandell praised the work of the island's lifeguards, firefighters and the “tireless efforts” of Formentera's civil protection force—“volunteers who love Formentera”. “Thanks to these volunteers' close collaboration, we have been able to substantially improve our emergency response system”, he said.

Formentera welcomes island's new police chief

foto policia constitucioCiF president Jaume Ferrer and Bartomeu Escandell, secretary of the presidential cabinet, welcomed the man who will lead the island's local police force from today.

Félix Ramos fills a position left vacant on December 31 by Joan Mayans, the force's former chief, when he took on an administrative charge. In recent months the position has been covered by second-in-command Pep Yern.

President Ferrer praised Mr Yern's work on the force and wished his replacement the best of luck as commander of the local police. “We want local law enforcement to have the structure they need to be able to provide effective service to islanders and Formentera's summertime visitors”, he said. Ferrer also noted that registration is currently open for individuals interested in applying to fill any of the force's six available spaces.

Mr Ramos joins the Formentera local police after 26 years on the force in Sant Antoni de Portmany, where he occupied a senior post from 2008. One of his tasks will be to implement a new, bilateral command structure, which he described as “a personal challenge”.  After his years in public safety, Ramos says he felt drawn to the prospect of professional growth and the task of developing a better service together with the existing force.

The new headquarters of the local police department is described as a “specialised centre for management and organisation”. Authority within the structure will be split, a setup which is intended to strengthen overall directive functioning. Police chief Ramos will oversee these operations and coordinate the heads of different branches of the force.

Consell and Ràdio Illa extend partnership

rsz foto equip de radio illaConsell de Formentera president Jaume Ferrer sat down today with Álvaro Raúl Méndoza, chairman of the island's cultural and audiovisual association (ACAF), to renew a pledge to work together producing content for the local public radio station, Ràdio Illa.

President Ferrer, saying he was “thrilled to once again renew our shared commitment”, explained that the €50,000 in assistance the Consell will give ACAF in 2018 will be for content production. According to the administration's chief, the task at hand for ACAF is about “both quality and quantity”. He highlighted the station's many years of service and the wealth of praise received during that time. So far this year those qualities have already earned Ràdio Illa two honours—recognition from Onda Cero Eivissa for excellence in communication and the 2018 Premi d'Honor for the station's work at the local level.

The ACAF chairman offered the Consell special thanks for its support, but extended those sentiments to listeners as well, and to the personnel who make the service possible. To hear Méndoza tell it, Ràdio Illa has earned its place as local listeners' go-to radio station, but the work isn't finished. “If we want to keep that trust”, he confided, “we've got to continue keeping islanders in the know”.

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