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Formentera salutes work of island law enforcement during pandemic

foto 2020 honorifics PLF 3The Consell de Formentera paid tribute to Formentera Local Police today as the island observed an annual salute to law enforcement. Special thanks were in order for the whole force, with Crosses for Police Merit awarded to every officer along with exceptional honours going to department chief Félix Ramos for his work during the crisis stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Enrique Gómez Bastida, for his part, received honorary decorations from the Consell as chief commander of the Eivissa-Formentera Guardia Civil.

In a speech, Consell premier Alejandra Ferrer emphasised Formentera Local Police’s work during what she acknowledged was an “intense year”, asserting “the ensemble of this force put public service first when the chips were down, when what we needed to effectively explain and uphold emergency order restrictions were officers of the law that were also members of the community”.

Alluding to the current state of affairs, Ferrer acknowledged, “It’s tough to stay optimistic amid this second wave of new cases, but today we can take satisfaction in the unwavering effort that our local officers have without respite put in”. “Indeed”, she continued, “perseverance will ultimately be what gets us through and ensures we come out fighting on the other side. I ask all of us to keep our guards up — not to live in fear, but with respect and a sense of personal responsibility for sake of the common good”.

In his remarks, interior chief Josep Marí said that key to securing islanders’ cooperation with Covid-19-related restrictions had been the “tremendous industry of the force collectively, not just during the state of emergency but after as well, in this most atypical of seasons.” Police chief Ramos had praise for officers too, along with a special show of gratitude for their collaborative work with other emergency responders. Ramos also joined in heaping appreciation on Commander Bastida. Speaking on behalf of the force as a whole, school liaison officer Pilar Daviu saluted Chief Ramos’s work and his support for officers.

Honours for Formentera Local Police officers
Nine officers —José Yern, Carlos Malberti, Marcos Roig, Marc Aragay, Javier Torrens, Pilar Daviu, Vicente Aguilar, Sergi Rodríguez and José Antonio Perera— earned the Cross for Police Merit, along with a green badge for valour, distinction, acumen and virtue. Special commendation centred on the force’s “professionalism, public spirit and bravery in successfully executing the complex work of coronavirus crisis responders”. After emergency powers were invoked, Formentera’s law officers did more than carry on upholding public safety; they took on new functions which demanded unflagging effort in their own right. With the crisis still in effect today, those efforts persist.

Honours for Police chief Félix Ramos
Police chief Ramos was given the same Cross for Police Merit and green badge as the rest of the force, along with special mention for bestowing dignity and prestige on the work of local law enforcement and for bravery, exemplary conduct and distinction in the face of the grave, strange and unpredictable public health threat Covid-19 represents.

Honours for Commander Enrique Gómez Bastida
The chief commander of the Eivissa-Formentera civil guard received the Consell’s Honorary Decoration — a distinction awarded on a discretionary basis to people and entities not on the force for dedication and determination to the benefit of the objectives of Formentera Local Police. As the sole delegate commander, a figure that is accountable for public safety and responsible for local security and police forces, Bastida rose to serve amid a public health disaster in which the commander’s management, coordination and leadership showed valour, excellence, judgement and ability. Bastida’s professionalism, public spirit and bravery equipped the commander to perform duties with distinct success — a particularly remarkable feat considering the unusual backdrop of the state of emergency in response to Covid-19. Commander Bastida displayed valuable leadership with altruism, self-sacrifice and commitment to safety and public health.

Also on hand at the event were the Balearic minister of modernisation and public administrations, Isabel Castro; the central government’s delegate on Eivissa and Formentera, Enrique Sánchez Navarrete; officers of the Spanish police and Guardia Civil; Formentera deputy premier Ana Juan; local cabinet councillors and members of the opposition; and family and friends of local law enforcement officers.

3 October 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Islander wellbeing and collective effort crucial to softening sting of economic crisis, says Alejandra Ferrer

foto 2020 debat estat 1Local leaders came together today in the plenary hall of the Consell de Formentera for the first of two debates on the state of local affairs. Local premier Alejandra Ferrer opened the gathering with remarks about the current landscape, a stock-taking of governance and a look at actions ahead.

Before overviewing efforts in recent months to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, Formentera’s chief officer extended condolences “to the family and friends of our fellow islander who lost her life to Covid-19” and “to all those who have lost loved ones to this crisis”.

The premier highlighted the fact that the 14 March invocation of emergency orders to combat Covid-19 came days after the Consell had already ordered the closure of various services in an effort to keep islanders safe and limit spread of the virus.

She pointed out that “through lockdown, lockdown easing and constant changes to directives for islanders and island businesses, every branch of local government took great pains to communicate and keep islanders in the know so protocol could be followed”.

“Little by little we exited lockdown, and our efforts were rewarded:” —Ferrer recounted— “Formentera was one of the first to begin de-escalation, a transition to the new normal that tested more than the managerial abilities of our administration and local businesses; it tested islanders’ own adaptive capacity”.

Diada de Formentera
The Consell chief also drew attention to local government’s programming around Formentera’s yearly celebration, the Diada de Formentera, describing it as “a thank-you to the island’s essential service providers who, by helping us remain calm throughout the state of emergency, guaranteed not only our safety, but our quality of life too”, she said.

Economic reactivation
On Formentera’s reopening to tourism, President Ferrer said that the rosy outlook around the public health situation in early summer and Formentera’s head start on the new normal “made for a relatively good season—one in which most local establishments managed to reopen”. “But nothing could stop late August”, she said, “with spiking numbers of national and international infections that brought the high season to an abrupt end”.

By Ferrer’s lights, everyone played a part in Formentera’s ability to demonstrate managerial flair — a strength she promised would “help in the run-up to summer 2021, when efforts will need to centre on cementing Formentera’s status as a safe-as-possible destination”.

“The public health crisis hasn’t disappeared and the current state of affairs is eminently complicated”, asserted the premier. “Coming out on the other side will mean taking things slowly and acting sensibly”, Ferrer insisted, “but it’s also going to take personal responsibility, collective effort and capacity to adapt to evolving situations”.

Social and business relief
“Everybody knows that the worst of the economic contraction lies ahead”, Ferrer stated. “The Consell has already issued what will likely be the first in a line of decrees outlining an economic and fiscal response to the economic and social fallout from the Covid-19 public health crisis”.

As she pledged to continue “shaping new measures and initiatives to help islanders cope the consequences of the pandemic and support Formentera’s social and economic fabric”, the president highlighted the following measures:

-Safeguards to strengthen social support systems for families, businesses, employees and freelancers
-Immediate relief for the most at-risk individuals and families
-Strengthening the fabric of the local business community
-Building community cohesion and social support so that no islander is left behind
-Economic reactivation
-Economic diversification including help for agriculture and emerging technologies with an eye to attracting new business and entrepreneurs

“Our end-game is to soften the economic toll of this public health crisis on islanders, the local tourism sector and Formentera businesses”, said the president. “Collective efforts will be vital to reorganising and reactivating the island’s economy. One thing is clear: many people are facing challenges and relatively few resources are available. Our approach must be sensible, and the priority needs to be easing the tax burden on vulnerable families and businesses so we can return to normal as soon as the public health situation permits”.

Social services
Ferrer underscored efforts to create more robust support for families and enable the island’s social services to fast-track payments related to social welfare and family assistance. Expedited payouts also include those made to the Consell’s own service providers, Ferrer said.

According to Ferrer, the situation currently unfolding has laid bare the essential role of social services and the need to reexamine social policy. The following measures are among those already enacted by the Consell de Formentera to fortify the social safety net and guaranteed basic income:

-Putting €325,000 originally intended for the 2020 cycle of Formentera’s participatory spending initiative toward deflecting the crisis’s effect on local families’ pocketbooks
-Freeing up a part of the 2019 surplus for investments in social policies in 2020
-Reallocating €300,000 for food and basic necessities
-Bolstering assistance included in a deal with Formenterers Solidaris (€30,000)

Ferrer also underscored a budget tweak voted in last month’s plenary assembly which will translate into distinct lines of funding this winter, promising that “the biggest among them will go to housing and social welfare”, said the premier.

Sustainable island
Ferrer devoted the second half of her remarks to efforts to make Formentera more environmentally, socially, culturally and economically sustainable.

In Ferrer’s words, “so far as attracting visitors and shaping tourism strategies is concerned, the idea couldn’t be clearer. We must lead with what sets us apart in terms of culture, environment and heritage while bettering services for tourists and quality of life for islanders”. The challenge in 2021, she said, will boil down to being able to “offer reassurances on public health safety and on our ability to ensure the safety of visitors and residents alike”.

Right to housing
One particularly crucial task, Ferrer said, is that of safeguarding people’s basic rights, “and that includes having access to decent housing”. The premier described such access as “one of the most serious problems faced by islanders” and insisted public health turmoil had only made things worse. In that sense, Ferrer trumpeted the decision to direct €150,000 of the recent spending tweak to targeted housing assistance.

“Put simply, our top priorities are young people, training opportunities and not only access, sanitation upgrades, growing towns, streamlining administrative formalities, supporting our small-town business community, creating infrastructure for old people and fostering all islanders’ active participation in local government, promoting basic exercise, supporting culture, rehabilitating local heritage, completing our network of bike lanes, putting in place a new transport service, monitoring and limiting moorage, improving organic waste management, investing in clean energy, investing in our farmers’ co-operative and local agriculture and, 365 days a year, building a Formentera that offers better possibilities to its businesses and, in doing so, improves available jobs and builds a more balanced society”.

Ferrer concluded by pointing to her administration’s overarching goal and the “driving force behind all our efforts: a better, happier life for everyone”. “Since the creation of the Consell, Formentera has gone through serious changes and delivered on historical pleas, and the time has come to think about what kind of island we want to be. Formentera is a place where quality of life, and people, come first.”

Party members took the floor to offer their own remarks following Ferrer’s speech. Ferrer used the time accorded for her rebuttal to close the day’s session. In a second session on Tuesday 6 October, party representatives will propose items for debate in the plenary assembly.

1 October 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell de Formentera renews partnerships with old people’s clubs in La Savina and La Mola

foto 2020 conveni majors 2 la molaConsell president Alejandra Ferrer signed collaborative agreements today with the respective chairs of El Pilar Seniors’ Association and La Savina Retirees and Pensioners’ Club, Jaume Escandell and Maria Costa. Formentera’s deputy premier and chief of the seniors’ department, Ana Juan, was also present at the signing.

As part of the agreements, the Consell will provide each of the two senior centres with €5,500 in funding. The money helps pay for maintenance and fund services, not to mention promote and sustain programming and community activities designed for the elderly.

29 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

National IDs issued on Formentera

The Spanish police’s mobile unit in charge of processing national identification card (DNI) applications will once again offer local service on Wednesday 7 October. Islanders interested in requesting the service can schedule an appointment at the Formentera Local Police department by calling 971.32.22.01, Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 2.00pm. ID cards will be distributed Wednesday the 14th. The mobile unit had temporarily ceased operations on the island due to the pandemic.

28 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

By retooling 2020 budget, Formentera unlocks funding to help islanders cope with Covid-19 crisis

foto ple ix020Members of the Consell de Formentera gathered today for the island’s September plenary, a session that saw the GxF-PSOE cabinet secure the preliminary green light for a modification of the island’s 2020 budget. “The situation in November 2019 when this year’s spending framework was voted in is completely different to the one we’re in today”, quipped the chief of the finance and tax offices, Bartomeu Escandell. The pandemic and attendant crisis have forced a change in priorities, he continued, “and right now it’s crucial we devote resources to tackling this social emergency”.

Among the actions designed to supply urgent relief to islanders and local businesses, including €30,000 for Formenterers Solidaris and a €100,000 increase in social spending, €100,000 for student aid, €300,000 in food vouchers and €350,000 for freelancers and Isba loans, Escandell pointed to urgent relief amounting to €150,000 in renter’s assistance. “This boils down to a basic necessity for a great many Formentera families”, asserted the conseller.

Ca na Costa
The finance chief explained that an additional €900,000 included in the spending adjustment would enable the Consell to use the right of first refusal amid a potential land sell-off. “The Consell has been notified of the possible sale of Ca na Costa,” said Escandell, “if it goes forward and the price is right, the Consell will exercise its prerogative to acquire a heritage site which dates to roughly 2000 BC. Not only is Ca na Costa the oldest megalithic site in the Balearic Islands, but features like the chamber, perforated tiles, radials, outer platform and retaining walls make it wholly unique in the world”.

The Ca na Costa archaeological dig site was classed as a cultural interest asset in 1994. The remains of eight individuals figure among the materials uncovered there. Conseller Escandell said the land, which sits on 100,000 square metres at the eastern side of Estany Pudent, “is of an incalculable importance to Formentera’s heritage and the local environment”.

Refunding tax on dynamic advertising
Cross-party support also materialised behind a proposal to modify the guidelines of a tax on so-called dynamic advertising. Mobility chief Rafael González announced local government would be refunding in full the levy paid by taxi drivers to engage in dynamic marketing, reasoning that taxing such advertising “isn’t a priority during these times of crisis”.

Honouring law enforcement
A proposal to honour members of Formentera Local Police and other security forces received backing from both the GxF-PSOE cabinet and Sa Unió. “Amid emergency orders and afterwards, during this eminently atypical summer season, island law enforcement went above and beyond to ensure compliance with the imperatives of the public health crisis”, said the chief of the interior department. “These distinctions are a way to applaud those efforts.”

Assembly members voted to award the Cross for Police Merit to nine officers on the island force, including police chief Félix Ramos Pérez. Special Consell de Formentera honours went to chief commander of the Eivissa-Formentera Civil Guard, Enrique Gómez Bastida, “for his dedication and commitment to Formentera Local Police missions”.

Waste management contract
Cabinet members overcame opposition abstention to pass framework for the island’s waste management contract—“a necessary step in order to tender a crucial local service”, indicated environment chief Antonio J Sanz. The conseller said the terms of the contract were nearing completion and the offer would be put to tender pending plenary approval.

Another measure to pass with cabinet support despite opposition abstention was a partnership between the Formentera Department of Environment and Balearic Agency of Water and Environmental Quality (Abaqua) to upgrade the sanitation service and water purification plant. “This is a compact that hasn’t been renewed since 2005”, said the environment chief, “but it means Abaqua can continue running the plant without losing any of the new upgrades and maintenance funding that have been secured”.

Highway agreement
Assembly members granted support to a GxF-PSOE-brokered proposal to petition the central government to update its roads agreement with the island. Such a change could usher in road improvements as recommended in an investment report prepared by the Consell de Formentera and currently awaiting revision. According to the mobility conseller, the measure means holding Madrid’s feet to the fire on writing improvements of island roads into the Spain’s general 2021 spending plan.

Health care improvements
Another cabinet-brokered proposal to succeed despite the abstention of the opposition was a motion to petition the Balearic Health Service to restructure and expand face-to-face primary care at the Formentera Health Centre (Centre de Salut de Formentera, CSF). The change is aimed at equipping the CSF for differentiated care based on whether patients present respiratory difficulties, differentiated care for visits by paediatricians, replacements of absent staff and an upgraded system of online care.

An additional motion tabled by the opposition sought to urge the Balearic Health Service to upgrade dialysis spaces and terminals at the Formentera hospital and restore dialysis service on the island—“a change that would allow local patients to forgo travel to Eivissa”, reasoned social welfare chief Rafael Ramírez.

Progress report from Consellera Juan
Consellera Ana Juan stood before the assembly to take stock of efforts in departments within her remit. “Covid-19 has left us rattled, particularly in terms of well-being, and in this unusual and trying situation, vision, dialogue and consensus are more important than ever. The people of Formentera need to be our number-one priority”, she insisted.

Juan pointed to €150,000 in housing assistance adopted by members of the day’s plenary. The special line of assistance is designed to help low-earning families and “cohabitation units” access and keep rental housing. Meanwhile, she stressed that older islanders were one of the most vulnerable groups amid the current pandemic, and highlighted Covid-19-related measures at the start of the pandemic involving “telephone-based support and upwards of five hundred phone calls in an effort to detect possible victims of the disease who lived alone and needed help”.

Consellera Juan likewise described one project in early stages of development and receiving funding from the regional job seekers’ office that is geared toward local employment, training and entrepreneurialism and moving towards full employment in 2020–2023. She underscored an array of training and employment courses as well, “all aimed at reaching as many people as possible; we’re in an immensely tricky situation and need all hands on deck”. Juan’s review extended to cooperation with groups representing local businesses and sellers at Formentera’s outdoor markets —“a sector that generates wealth based on trust and proximity”, the consellera noted— to support and publicise commercial operations battered by the pandemic.

Lastly, unanimous support was secured for an official statement from the Consell on World Day against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking in Women, Girls and Boys, celebrated 23 September. As Local equality chief Vanessa Parellada put it, “equality between women and men will remain a chimera so long as women, girls and boys are bought, sold, exploited and prostituted”. Parellada insisted on the importance of abolishing prostitution and eradicating human trafficking for sexual exploitation. In the statement, assembly members declared that “as apparent with the first-ever ‘Feminist Classrooms’ event hosted last week, islanders stand united behind these principles”.

25 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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