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Plenary endorses Consell de Formentera's largest-ever budget and economic viability of new public transport contract

foto 2022xii pleToday, in the full-house assembly of the Consell de Formentera, cabinet councillors of Gent per Formentera and PSOE overcame abstention by representatives of Sa Unió to pass the administration's largest-ever budget. Spending in 2023 totals €38.4 million and marks a 13.52% increase compared to the €33.8 million budget in 2022. Bartomeu Escandell, councillor of finance, highlighted budgetary growth since the Consell de Formentera's first €21.7 million budget in 2008. Escandell traced the record-setting expansiveness of 2023 spending to increased current transfers under legislation on financing for island administrations, more capital transfers of Next Generation funds from the European Union and the municipal government's own fiscal efficiency.

The accounts are divided into basic public services (€12.27 million), social protection and promotion (€4.89m), production of preferential public assets (€6.49m), economic actions (€8.77m) and general actions (€5.98m). In this sense, Councillor Escandell affirmed, "We are above all service-providers. Moreover, we are continually expanding aid to the associative fabric of the island". "Despite the global crisis, the Consell de Formentera is a healthy, financially-stable and zero-deficit institution with €6 million in strategic reserves to deal with externalities that may come", he asserted.

Subsidising childcare
Assembly members were briefed on approval of a change to the tax ordinance that sets facilities and service fees for the island's nurseries (escoletes). From January to June, a 30% reduction will apply to the fee for daily service (8.30am to 12.30pm) for years one and two of early-childhood education. This special reduction, the latest in a series of that have been included in the ordinance, brings Formentera one more step closer to free schooling for zero- to three-year-olds.

Financial and family reductions and exemptions in the escoletes ordinance will be maintained and single-parent families and victims of gender violence will join large families in benefiting from a 30% discount. Since September, children in year three at the escoletes have benefited from fully-subsidised fees, while all children on the island will receive full subsidies for their annual tuition of €70 in 2022-2023.

Container deposit scheme
Unanimous backing also materialised for a proposal tabled by Antoni Tur, councillor of environment, to rebate 60% of the waste collection fee for establishments that participate in a pilot test of a deposit system for packaging. The rebate will apply for the duration of the pilot test. "We continue to take steps towards a circular management of our waste – an issue of utmost importance for Formentera's environmental sustainability", said Councillor Tur.

Public transport
The GxF-PSOE cabinet once again overcame opposition abstention to pass an update of the project for regular passenger road transport services on the island. Rafael González, councillor of mobility, attributed the need to expand the project budget to rising costs and explained that the planned new service would offer four new service routes –two year-round and seven seasonal– bringing the total to nine. "Buses will link to towns, the port, the social and health services hub, beaches and the main tourist areas", he added. The company that obtains the concession must have a ten-bus fleet, plus one reserve mini- or midibus, and be tailored to the characteristics of the island. The change will mean a doubling of the current offer and is expected to bring a 31% increase in ridership.

Assembly members also approved a feasibility study of the contract for the public passenger transport service. The ten-year public contract will be worth €20.5 million, revenue from fares is expected to reach €8.5 million (40% of the service budget) and the Consell de Formentera will contribute €12 million (60%). "Until 2019 Formentera's bus service had no funding from the Consell", the councillor pointed out, "so we are retooling and tailoring it to current needs. That comes at a cost, which is worth it given the service provided and the benefits it will mean for the environment, tourism and the island."

In year one of roll-out, the Consell de Formentera will contribute one million euros, with contributions of €1.2 million each year thereafter. The councillor of mobility asserted that in 2023 new sources of income would ensure the viability of the service, pointing to an expected €600,000 through formentera.eco and €400,000 from the Balearic Government, and adding, "After today's approvals, this winter we will take the project to tender." González called the steps "important progress in local mobility" and insisted, "We hope that this new contract and formentera.eco will make mobility truly sustainable and deliver something that residents and tourists use every day."

Members of the assembly also handed cross-party support to Formentera's signing of a declaration in defence of the night sky and the right to starlight. By signing, the island shows its support for protections, awareness and the other objectives contained in the declaration.

Fourth Plan for Substances, Screens and Games
Assembly members came together to pass the fourth Substances, Screens and Games Plan for 2022-2025 (Pla insular sobre l'ús de sustàncies, pantalles i jocs, PIUSPJ). In the words of Rafael Ramírez, councillor of social welfare, "this plan has been open to the participation of all social stakeholders, and it is a good plan that has been designed to protect our young people." The plan was developed by Fundació Salut i Comunitat with collaboration from the Office of Social Welfare.

Two joint proposals
Additional backing was secured for two joint opposition-cabinet proposals brought by representatives of Sa Unió. One reiterates to the Balearic Government the need to urgently remodel the outfall of the waste water treatment plant (WWTP) "to minimise the impact on the adjacent posidonia meadow." Plenary members also pressed the Balearic administration and ABAQUA to "respect the timeframe established" to expand the WWTP and "include in the 2023 audit annual reports on the Formentera WWTP, after the planned works, so that improvements in the emissions of treated water can be verified."

Under the other joint proposal, assembly members agreed to update the wording of the Consell de Formentera ordinance on language use to make clear reference to the Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands. They voted to add an article explicitly tracing the use of language to the Statute – a point that highlights the value of the Consell's Language Advisory Service (Servei d'Assessorament Lingüístic, SAL). Under article 2.5 of the Normalising Language Act, the SAL's remit includes "establishing, promoting and disseminating the correct lexical, verbal and other forms of Catalan which are closest to that which is spoken on Formentera."

40th anniversary of the Statute of Autonomy
Plenary members also voted unanimously to commemorate the 40th anniversary of enactment of the Balearic Islands' Statute of Autonomy. President Juan described it as "a celebration of this important milestone in our region's history." Juan also encouraged islanders to get involved in the commemorative events programmed around the Balearic magna carta: "These events are designed to highlight and increase visibility around our island's reality under the Statute of Autonomy of the Balearic Islands."

20 December 2022
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

Formentera works to improve law enforcement coordination in tackling illegal parties

foto 2022xii JLSToday the Formentera Local Security Board (Junta Local de Seguretat, JLS) convened for a session which was chaired by Ana Juan, president of the Consell de Formentera, and, via digital connection, Enrique Sánchez Navarrete, state director on Formentera. Josep Marí, councillor of interior; Alejandra Ferrer, vice-president (Gent per Formentera); Rafael Ramírez, social welfare councillor (PSOE), and Lorenzo Córdoba (Sa Unió) were also present, along with law enforcement officials like Félix Ramos, chief of Formentera Local Police; Manuel Hernández, chief commissioner of the National Police of Eivissa; Enrique Gómez Bastida, commander of the Civil Guard. Other attendees included a representative of the Balearic office of emergency and interior and other authorities.

President Juan said attendees discussed "the excellent coordination between the forces of law and order", asserting, "I believe that Formentera needs this coordination because by working together we pool efforts and the good results multiply". Juan said forthcoming sectoral meetings would focus on issues like house parties, parties in the nature reserve and the sale of alcohol to minors, "so that data can be pooled at the next JLS gathering, laying the groundwork for all relevant administrations to solve these problems in coordination." The president also stressed the importance of "stationing all Balearic ecological rangers on Formentera and ensuring the full crew is present". In summer 2022, only one of the three rangers that was due to patrol the reserve ultimately showed up for duty and, according to President Juan, "filling the staffing gap fell to us."

Participants agreed that other gatherings must be focused on improving coordination among the varying security forces. The idea, said Councillor Marí, is to "improve how we respond to illegal parties in the reserve and in private homes, which were among our biggest problems this summer, the goal being to discourage parties before they happen." The councillor added that more Maritime Civil Guard agents would be key to enforcing the required distance between anchored craft and beaches and patrolling anchorage on posidonia meadows and boat-based food and drinks sales. Such reinforcements, he said, could also take aim at other illegal activities in the reserve and along the coast of Formentera.

Members of the JLS also discussed collaboration since last year with the Red Cross to deliver basic necessities to migrants arriving on local shores. Today, the Red Cross is registered on Formentera and has volunteers, which means the Consell can oversee assignment of a space in the former Office of Social Welfare. So far this year roughly 460 immigrants have arrived on the island. Eighteen are unaccompanied minors under the custody of the local administration.


19 December 2022
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

Formentera Cooperativa del Camp travels to Mallorca to learn about work of other cooperatives

foto 2022xii coop camp mallorca BThe Office of Rural Environment of the Consell de Formentera reports that this week Josep Marí, Marcos Ribas and Carlos Marí (local rural affairs councillor and president and manager of the Formentera Countryside Cooperative [Cooperativa del Camp, CCF], respectively), as well as other CCF members, took part in a trip organised by Cooperatives Agro-alimentàries Illes Balears (CAAIB) to get a first-hand look at the work of cooperatives on Mallorca.

Councillor Josep Marí expressed his satisfaction "because this week the CCF team immersed themselves in Majorcan agriculture and came back with ideas that can be applied to our local countryside". The councillor highlighted the group's tour of Majorcan mills, "now that the project to produce oil in a regulated manner on Formentera is closer to becoming a reality". In this regard, the contract for acquisition of €270,000 in machinery has been awarded and Tragsa is expected to start building the warehouse shortly.

For his part, the CCF president described the main objective of these visits as "sharing experiences and giving Formentera's CCF members a first-hand look at the work of Majorcan coops". He added that the trip had served "to create synergies to collaborate and share knowledge from various experiences".

Visit
Tuesday 13 December, the local contingent visited the University of the Balearic Islands for a tasting of coop produce – part of the CAAIB's Christmas-season showcase of culinary creations by students at the School of Hospitality Balearic Islands (EHIB). Afterwards, the group sat for a talk by chef Claudio Lemos ("Traditional products vs. innovative cuisine") and ended their day with a tasting of coop products.

Wednesday 14 December, the crew visited the Sant Bartomeu Cooperative olive mill in Sóller before dropping in at the coop store. Next, they went to Camp Mallorquí SCL for a look at the almond and carob food industry courtesy of coop president Miquel Gual. In the afternoon, they travelled to Binissalem to visit Grup Fruits Secs and see its oil mill and bakery.

Thursday 15 December, the CCF team visited Mercapalma to see the workings of Agromallorca SAT and get a look at a tomato farm. Finally, they visited the Son Jover cheesemakers and farm.

16 December 2022
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

Presenting 'Formentera Impulsa', a space for entrepreneurs and small business start-ups

foto 2022xii f impulsa AToday the Office of Entrepreneurship of the Consell de Formentera presented "Formentera Impulsa", a temporary space for new entrepreneurs, micro-enterprises and small businesses on the island. "Formentera Impulsa" is housed at the Casal d'Entitats, the former site of the Office of Social Welfare, and offers a set of services that make it easier for entrepreneurs to run their business in the early years.

Ana Juan, president and councillor of entrepreneurship of the Consell de Formentera, described the goal as "helping start-ups develop their activity, improving training and creating a space to share experiences and synergies". She cast the initiative as "support for those lacking a space to perform administrative work and for all those who need training, guidance and advice when starting a business".

Spaces
"Formentera Impulsa" has a co-working room with six workstations, meeting room, reception and waiting area, toilets and car park. The Office of Local Development also has a training room on site that can be used based on availability and where entrepreneurs can take part in capacity building. At the Espai Empresarial, member enterprises will benefit from a reception service, access control, photocopies, online services, furniture, multipurpose room, fibre-optic connection and air conditioning. Businesses may use the Espai Empresarial for €50 a month.

Services and website
In addition, "Formentera Impulsa" offers a wide range of services, including a "Support Spot" (Punt d'Atenció a l'Emprenedor, PAE), for local entrepreneurs; employment and training resources like a direct link to and information on the Consell's partner programmes at the regional employment office (SOIB); resources on grants and subsidies for businesses and individuals, and programmes for local businesses.

Visit www.formenteraimpulsa.cat for access to "Formentera Impulsa" and updated information on all the services offered.

16 December 2022
Communications Office
Consell de Formentera

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