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Formentera advocates review of Dénia sea connection

Foto segona sessio debatToday Formentera Council held its second plenary session dedicated to discussing the state of the island. Attendees unanimously adopted a proposal from Gent per Formentera urging authorities “to review and possibly rework the terms” of the current Formentera-Dénia maritime connections “given their impact on Formentera's model of sustainability and safety,” explained transport councillor Rafael González. In the councillor's words, “as a summertime-only route, this a ship that doesn't carry any freight. While it doesn't deliver goods, it does come loaded with vehicles that bring our traffic to a standstill”. González pointed out the fact that Formentera is the only port without a “general interest” connection with the mainland, though he said he hoped the current vote would give Formentera leverage to improve the situation.

Renewable energy

With another proposal from Gent per Formentera, attendees voted unanimously to push the Council to “author a plan to progressively replace traditional power sources with renewable ones in Council buildings”. The initial process, said environment councillor Daisee Aguilera, will involve “singling out areas that can be improved” to later speed up the grant application process once money from the Govern becomes available. Furthermore, said Aguilera, the Council will also use its own budget –either directly or through secondary projects– to promote renewable energy sources.

To that end, all the parties at the session backed the PSOE's proposal envisaging “a joint effort by the Govern Balear and Formentera Council to make Formentera an energy independent island”.

Improvements to central government services

In addition, plenary attendees voted to urge the central government in Madrid to improve the services it administers on Formentera, “the priorities being the tax office, social security, the transportation department, passport and immigration services,” explained councillor of the president's office Bartomeu Escandell. That measure, brought forth by Gent per Formentera, was supported by all.

Another proposal that received unanimous support entails urging the administration “to adapt the conference hall of the Formentera day centre to host the Council's plenary sessions” and “make the associated technological improvements” as well. According to Escandell, the Magic Box, as the hall has been christened, “has got architectural features making it perfectly suitable for CiF plenary sessions.” For councillors it would also mean technological improvements, he said, as well as the possibility of live broadcasts of the sessions.

Political groups also unanimously adopted a measure brought by the Partido Popular to increase the frequency of public buses between la Mola and the rest of the island. Councillor González noted the Council's support for the proposed move but added that such an expansion of the public transport service should “be applied across the entire island”.

Improvements to urban enclaves

Representatives at the plenary also voted in unanimous support of a measure “for continued improvement projects in Sant Ferran, Es Pujols, Ses Bardetes, Es Ca Marí and la Savina.”

They also signed on to a proposal from the socialists to change the time extraordinary plenary sessions on the state of the island start. Participants voted to start such one-off meetings in the afternoon.

Housing

Also noteworthy was a unanimously-supported joint measure from Compromís amb Formentera and the socialist party. According to land management councillor Alejandra Ferrer, the proposal calls on the Council and the regional housing authority (IBAVI) to conduct a study on Formentera housing and work toward the establishment of a “social contract on housing”. Under the proposal, the study should “offer concrete solutions to the problems at hand.”

Agreement to expand summer taxi service on Formentera

Foto parada taxis FormenteraThe Formentera Council (CiF) Office of Transport has clinched an agreement for 2016-17 with the local association of taxi drivers (Associació de Taxistes de Formentera) regarding the local action plan for summertime drivers. “Our goal going into this year’s talks was to improve on the previous plan,” said transport councillor Rafael González, “and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve gone from five seasonal permits to eight.” In addition to providing more driver permits, the new agreement extends the service period from three to four months and allows for an expanded range of driving hours.  

González pointed out that “in 2014 and 2015, seasonal drivers began June 15 and finished September 15,” while this year and next “the summer season will go from the start of June through the end of September.” He also highlighted the extended hours drivers would be allowed to operate – “the timetable has gone from 10.00 am to 10.00 pm to 9.00 am to 1.30 am next day.” The objective, explained González, was to “strike a balance between supply and demand to make sure the service given to residents and tourists was a quality one.” Also important was the task of preventing non-licensed cabs from eating away at the market.

Sustainable vehicles

Another feature of the revised action plan is the requirement that “25 per cent of seasonal taxis be hybrids,” said González, who called the move “a clear step” toward the goal of making local transport more sustainable. Under the new terms, two of the eight seasonal taxis must be hybrids.

Public bid

This week, the terms of the public bid will be published on the BOIB (the official bulletin of the Balearic Islands), after that, drivers will have ten days to present their applications. Applications will be accepted from taxi drivers with a permanent licence in addition to salaried employees that have worked as a driver in Formentera at least four months in the last two years.

Formentera to take steps to ensure egalitarian use of old route to la Mola

ple març 2016Earlier today, the Formentera Council (CiF) held its March plenary session. The session brought unanimous approval for a measure to include funding in the CiF’s 2017 budget for an overhaul of el camí Vell (the old road) to la Mola. Transport councillor Rafael González explained that the project, which is designed to improve the flow of traffic along the entire length of el camí Vell, will rely on “dialogue with landowners and neighbours”. González also assured the project would reflect Formentera residents’ various uses of the road as well as traffic flows throughout different segments.

According to the councillor, the revamped arterial will be “safe for cyclists and walkers”, underlying the CiF transport department’s goal of promoting both those activities. González called the old route “crucial for Formentera residents, past and present”, but underscored the vast range of uses el camí Vell is given. “The stretch that is currently closed to car traffic will be reopened exclusively to cyclists and pedestrians”, he said, stressing the Council’s desire to ensure “safety and tranquillity” for bike-riders and walkers.

Unanimous support for refugees

Representatives at the plenary also voted to pass a strongly-worded critique of the recent agreement on refugee resettlement between the EU and Turkey. In the words of social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada, the Council’s unanimously-approved text calls the agreement “an egregious breach of legislation in place to protect refugees” and insists the bilateral move will “only worsen the humanitarian crisis”.

“Members of the plenary have urged the Spanish government to take an active role in the European Commission to ensure that international law is upheld and that refugees receive humane, conscientious assistance”, said Parellada. The councillor also called to mind the CiF’s own registry of households that have made known their willingness to take in refugees temporarily. She pleaded for all levels of government involved in the crisis to assist refugees in “a compassionate, professional and responsible way”.

New rules for parking at national park

Foto Ismael SerranoEarlier today, the Formentera Council’s office of transport announced a series of changes in the parking rules within the island’s national park. Starting this year, vehicle access to the Illetes area of the park will be regulated 10 May to 30 September. Likewise, residents and tourists that drive to the Es Cavall den Borràs area will also be met with parking attendants. According to department head Rafael González, the changes reflect the fact that the areas in question are largely spared by parking troubles during the low season. Regulated parking will be in place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the low season and until 8 or 9 p.m. in the high season.

This year’s biggest change has been the ban on quads in the park. The move, says González, was meant to prevent “environmental degradation, noise pollution and dust kicked up by passing vehicles”. He called the park “one of Formentera’s most environmentally delicate areas”.

Public toilets

This summer, four split-use toilets will be installed as well. The portable wood-sided units were chosen for their suitability in the surrounding environment, González said. He called the toilets “essential” in terms of hygiene, the environment and general tidiness at the park.

In addition, vehicle access to the park will be regulated for both regular bus lines and those that operate on a discretional basis. Regular service buses will be allowed entry at a rate of one per half hour, all day long and at no cost. Meanwhile, following terms apply for buses that work on a by-request basis: entry will be allowed one per half hour, but at a payment of €0.80, €1 or €1.20 per vehicle per parking spot (low, mid and high season). Access for discretional service buses is totally restricted between 12 noon and 5 p.m. The goal, explained the councillor, was to eliminate unruly crowds that plagued the park at rush-hour.  

Access will be restricted as well for vehicles carrying heavy loads and attempting to enter the park at high-traffic times. Those vehicles will be granted access before 11 a.m. and after 5 or 7 p.m., depending on the time of summer. The move, says González, responds to the fear that entry and exit of large delivery lorries-if uncontrolled-could bring rush-hour traffic at the park to a standstill. The councillor pointed out additional improvements to the park’s vehicle removal service. González described all of the changes as an effort to improve safety and service quality at the Formentera national park.

Formentera streamlines renewal process for metered parking in la Savina

Zona regulada de la Savina foto premsaThe Formentera Council's office of transport has announced a series of changes to the system for requesting or renewing parking passes for metered parking in la Savina. According to department head Rafael González, from tomorrow, 1 March, Formentera residents and businesses will be able to apply online on the OVAC (Citizen Information Office).

As the programme enters its second year, the Council is taking the opportunity to simplify certain parts of the process. “The fastest way to get a parking pass is to apply online”, says González, who also points out that new accounts are activated within 48 hours of applying. This step also allows for individual application data to be stored in the system's database, which is what enables parking pass holders to obtain free parking tickets.

This year residents will notice the disappearance of the decals drivers were required to affix onto their car's windscreen. Authorised green and blue zone parkers need only to enter their licence number into a parking meter and print out a ticket—“exactly as we've been doing till now”, González highlighted. Formentera residents are reimbursed 100% of the ticket cost, so parking in la Savina is still free.

The councillor of transport highlighted other modifications in the regulated parking system, such as the ability to pay a simple monthly fee. By paying €200 per month in summer or €100 per month in winter, drivers can forego the ticket system. New modalities have also been added. A 50% reimbursement for nonresident house or flat owners (and renters staying more than three months) means the monthly fee is cut to €100 in summer and €50 in winter.

Another change requested by la Savina residents has been a reduction of the blue and green zone parking times; they went from 9 a.m. to 12 midnight to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Info concerning the service has recently been updated on www.aferraliaparca.com, where users can have their questions answered and complete their application online. Additional information can be requested at the Formentera Council's office of transport or by visiting the Citizen Information Office, in person, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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