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Neus Mateu, Madrid's representative in Balearics, visits Formentera

Foto Neus Mateu 1Jaume Ferrer and Susana Labrador, chairman and deputy chairwoman of the Formentera Council, sat down today with the newly appointed representative to the Balearic Islands of the Spanish central government, Neus Mateu, to welcome her on her first visit to the island. A subsequent working meeting found the officials discussing crucial matters of safety on the island in summertime.

President Ferrer seized the opportunity to speak to Mateu about the importance of summertime reinforcements for the traffic and sea divisions of Guardia Civil law enforcement. Ferrer noted that last year such operations, based in La Savina, played a crucial role in tracking ever greater numbers of visiting watercraft on Formentera's coasts. The Council chair described the need for summer reinforcements thus: “As many Guardia Civil officers as possible for as long as possible”. He held up collaboration between the Guardia Civil and local police, “particularly when our agencies are short-staffed”, as vital to offering islanders and tourists a quality service.

For her part, Mateu highlighted the success of investigations following multiple robberies last summer, noting that “several arrests were made and very few cases reoccurred”. “We hope to see the return of reinforcements and continued improvements”, she continued. She was optimistic that a resolution would come after confiscations following fires in Cala Saona. She also confirmed plans to reestablish a base on the island for the marine Guardia Civil, urged a continuation of summertime reinforcements and called for an extension of coordination between the Guardia Civil and local police.

The subjects will be discussed more thoroughly at next month's meeting of the Formentera safety junta.

Council officials face investigation into 2013 contracting of firefighters

On April 24 the Formentera Council's president, Jaume Ferrer, and chief officer, Isidor Torres, will testify before the number-three investigating judge of Eivissa concerning alleged administrative wrongdoing in the 2013 contracting of staff to the island's fire brigade.

The hearing arose from the original 2016 ruling against the Council which turned confusion as to how much time would-be firefighters were given to obtain lorry permits into a red flag for the prosecutor about possible criminal offences.

Still in proceedings, the case has been reviewed by the high court of the Balearic Islands, which ordered the original claim of damages cut in half and supported the Council's request to have the case heard before the Supreme Court.

Justification for termination

The plaintiff requests pay for a period from 2013-2015, during which time he occupied the Council's list of reserve staff despite the fact his services were not retained. He is also party to further litigation against the Formentera Council involving compensation for work that was, again, never actually completed.

In January 2017, one year into his employment with the Council, the plaintiff declined to extend his contract. Subsequently, he sought reimbursement for damages based on the allegation that he had been wrongfully terminated, a claim which was ultimately rejected by the court.

These facts notwithstanding, the Formentera Council contracted the plaintiff once again in January 2018, citing a lack of other eligible candidates on its list of reserve staff. The plaintiff asked to end his contract on February 24, one and a half months after starting. The president and chief officer's testimonies will come two months after that termination.

'Earning without working'

The president and chief officer of the Council have both described the plaintiff as “someone who wants to receive money without working for it”. They have voiced their hopes that the related proceedings do not sully the image of the rest of Formentera's firefighters, who are, in their words, “out and out professionals whose efforts on the island are crucial”.

President Ferrer's handling of the 2013 incident was in accordance with technical reports drafted on the subject. Torres, for his part, began employment with the Council in 2015, two years after the period of time in question.

Formentera announces six openings on local police force

Foto policia localThe Formentera Council has issued a call for applicants to fill six positions on the island's police force. The offer was published yesterday (Thursday) on the regional gazette, the BOIB.

Conditions of access, including details about the competitive exam that candidates must pass, can be viewed on the Council's website (www.consellinsulardeformentera.cat) or at this link. The posting is for career civil servants specialising in law enforcement.

On a related note, the Council has lined up a series of talks and training sessions for prospective applicants. The sessions, which go from 6.00pm to 8.00pm, begin Tuesday, March 27 in the culture department's hall of ceremonies (Sala d'Actes) and will continue every Tuesday  till May 15. The sessions will be suspended on May 1, which is a bank holiday.

President's office secretary Bartomeu Escandell described the call for applicants as “crucial to making sure the local force has the manpower needed to provide a decent service for residents and visitors”.

At present, roughly ten of the force's 18 positions are filled.

Formentera supports hitching pensions to upturns in RPI

Foto ple mar 018 1Today, council members met for the administration's March plenary session. The gathering was marked by cross-party support for a set of guidelines giving structure and substance to joint action between the Formentera Council and the local cultural audiovisual association. The framework concerns production of content for the island's public radio station, Ràdio Illa, an independent, public and high-quality source of news about current events and activities organised locally.

Other proposed measures
Members of the assembly gave their approval to a Gent per Formentera (GxF) measure to urge the central government to contemplate tweaking pensions based on rising retail price indices. The PP abstained from the vote.

One measure from the PSOE to get the go-ahead called for repealing the so-called “Montoro Bill”, allowing local administrations to invest their surplus and hire new staff. “Yes” votes came from GxF, PSOE and Compromís council members while PP reps abstained.

Yearly review
Closing out the day's session, social welfare secretary Vanessa Parellada took the floor to review her department's action in 2017. She highlighted her office's commitment to families and underprivileged populations with initiatives:
providing support for the elderly and dependent individuals; protecting minors; developing new youth-positive policy; giving visibility and integrating people with disabilities; promoting equality. She underscored the Office of Social Welfare's renewed commitment to things like lifelong learning, employment and support towards integration for new arrivals to the island.

As for human resources, Parellada described her department's current phase of work as one of consolidation. The secretary said this meant continuing work with unions to regulate and cement local control over new positions within the Council, plus posting details about the jobs to the administration's website. Parellada also spoke about investment in new facilities. One building now under construction is the island's tanatori, or funeral home. Another, an assisted living residence, is currently up for tender.

Formentera Council OKs deal putting local administrations in charge of promoting tourism

Foto transferencia turismeIn a one-off plenary session held today, the Formentera Council gave the green light to a hand-off of authority on tourism promotions. The measure, which scored cross-party support from plenary attendees, paves the way for the island's receipt of a roughly €1-million funding package.

Funding to promote tourism
For the five years from 2018 to 2023, Formentera will get a fixed annual payment of €675,000. The island will also be eligible for an additional 1.82%, or €74,100. Taken together, the package amounts to €749,100 in yearly assistance, plus an extra slice of funding to be meted out over the next five years. Between them, the island councils will receive €7 million a year. In several years' time, Formentera, which currently gets a 11.07% share of the pie (€774,894), will be entitled to close to one million.

In 2018 the Formentera Council expects to receive €970,498, an approximative sum given that during the first quarter of the year the regional government was still in charge of tourism.

Another feature of hand-off: four salaried employees
The measure also means the Council will be able to add four new workers to the department responsible for tourism promotion. The staff will be tasked with new product design, research and statistics production and the creation of a new observatory to collect and analyse tourism-related data in a bid to improve Formentera's market strategies.

The change is set to take effect on April 1 following the next meeting of the joint committee and approval from the governing board.

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