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Formentera calls for sustainability and maritime safety on the Formentera-Eivissa line

foto 2021 ple maigToday’s May plenary session of the Consell de Formentera brought cross-party backing for a motion defended by mobility chief Rafael González urging “sustainability and maritime safety on the regular Formentera-Eivissa line”. The councillor insisted the proposal was “of vital importance” with short- and medium-term objectives. Features of the proposed agreement:

1. “To urge the Port Authority of the Balearic Islands to guarantee safety in La Savina harbour by limiting simultaneous navigational manoeuvres to a maximum of two and respecting a June 2020 agreement to reduce trips on the Formentera-Eivissa ferry line”. As in 2020, councillors hope to avoid a repeat of the situation in 2019, when 194 ferries shuttled back and forth between Eivissa and Formentera per day, with up to four departures at a time. González insisted such activity placed strain on the nearby ecosystem, including ses Salines nature reserve, not to mention the associated wasted resources and safety issues.

2. Secondly, councillors urged the Directorate General of the Merchant Navy, part of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, “to revoke and nullify technical arrangements permitting individuals to skirt regulatory precepts which are designed to maintain quality, safe navigation on the regular Formentera-Eivissa line”.

3. Thirdly, councillors called on the Balearic government urgently adopt a decree to implement 2010 legislation regulating regional maritime transport. The move would require shipping companies on the Formentera-Eivissa line to maintain daily, year-round operations, guaranteeing consensus with Formentera’s government and social and economic stakeholders by incorporating parts of the June 2020 agreement calling for reduced service on the Formentera-Eivissa line. González traced the continued failure to bring order to the local harbour to “eleven years of inaction on the part of the regional government”. “This is our chance to give residents a say in how ferry passages are regulated and what kind of future they envision for the island’s only port of entry and exit”, said González.

Safer island
Local premiere and tourism chief Alejandra Ferrer defended a proposal for “a safer island for visitors and residents”. She highlighted “progress in the local and worldwide vaccination efforts”, but asserted that “diagnostic tests still can’t be dispensed of”. In due form, assembly members came together to support a proposal linked to the Balearic government’s so-called Safe Tourism Package. Similar to Formentera’s Tourism Revival Plan, the proposed measures seek to guarantee safe workplaces by encouraging employers to submit staff to regular PCR or antigen tests.

Councillors unanimously agreed to ask the Balearic government to work with the island councils to incentivise employer buy-in for the planned measures and underwrite the plan’s success by ensuring it can be adapted to the local on-the-ground reality of each island.

Covid-19 help
A united front of support also materialised behind a range of tax relief measures designed to address economic and social fallout from Covid-19 from 1 July to 31 December 2021. Councillors agreed to not only halve fees associated with the Escoles d’Estiu, Escoletes, Escola de Música and municipal sports facilities and sports activities, but remove them altogether in the case of services during the same period at the municipal abattoir.

Eligible candidates include freelancers whose business has been affected by covid-19, the unemployed, workers on furlough or individuals who are eligible for reduced fees on services at the abattoir during the same period.

Eligible candidates include freelancers whose business has been affected by covid-19, the unemployed, workers on furlough or individuals who are eligible to receive welfare benefits. Finance and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell asserted that the latest six-month extension of the subsidies was “still fundamental for crisis-hit islanders”. “They really need this, and they’re our number-one priority”, he affirmed.

Farmers' co-op and fishing
Plenary attendees unanimously adopted the proposed terms of a partnership with the local agrarian collective. Primary sector chief Josep Marí pointed out that the vote would also open up funding to the tune of €130,000 — a boon for the public programme to revive Formentera agriculture and implement rural and scenic improvements.

Parties with plenary representation came together to table and deliver backing to a proposed revision of shellfish fishing restrictions based on European Council regulation 2021/19. Decision-makers pressed Madrid to revisit EU commitments and establish specific fishing measures based on scientific reports in each territory, taking into account the reality of the fishing sector in the Balearic Islands and, in particular, on Formentera. Plenary members additionally urged the regional ministry of agriculture and fishing to continue recalibrating its own commitments with the EU and to share the revised arrangements with the central government.

Limited access: es Cap
The GXF-PSOE cabinet overcame Sa Unió opposition to limit vehicle access to sa Tanca d’Allà Dins from 1 June to 15 October. From Tuesday, a barrier at kilometre 6.5 will prevent drivers of motor vehicles, cars and motorbikes from reaching the lighthouse by way of the north-south highway. Mobility chief Rafael González insisted the site would remain accessible for individuals with reduced mobility and recalled the high-season overcrowding that gave way to the idea of regulation in 2017. González said restricted access would continue, describing the initiative as “well received by visitors and residents alike” and asserting, “It’s solved the problems we had”. A car park near the barrier accommodates 60 cars and 100 scooters, so visitors can leave their vehicle and proceed to the lighthouse on foot or bicycle.

Other proposals
Passing with GxF-PSOE cabinet support despite abstention from the opposition was the launch of an official review based on the rulings handed down in PO 87/2014, a case brought by SUNWAY SL concerning an urban planning licence awarded to MORSANIX SL.

The assembly brought approval for two Sa Unió proposals too. The first involved the execution of projects approved in the participatory spending initiatives of 2017 and 2018 which have not yet been implemented. The second will mean the suspension from 2022 of formentera.eco registration requirements for islanders who pay the mechanical traction vehicle tax.

Department report
Economy, finance and general services chief Bartomeu Escandell spoke to efforts undertaken in the departments under his responsibility, part of the backbone of the administration’s activity. As the councillor put it, “it’s been a complicated year and the budgets had to be reworked so support could be delivered to islanders and businesses”. “If Formentera’s economic and financial solvency count for anything, they mean we can cope with pandemic fallout and help our people through tough times”, said Escandell, “and all that without interruptions to normal government operations and services”. In that sense, Escandell praised staff for seamlessly adapting to remote working and the current situation so that the day-to-day affairs of the Consell could continue unhindered. Lastly, Escandell promised plenary participants that “in my departments, we’re constantly working for quality tourism that is respectful of the land and ensures Formentera’s survival as a tourist destination known for its natural environment and high quality of life”.

Official proclamation against LGTBI-phobia
Cross-party support also materialised behind a proclamation from Vanessa Parellada in commemoration of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. “This is also about condemning discrimination suffered by all people with sexual orientations and gender expressions and identities that diverge from what’s seen as ‘normal’”, insisted the councillor of equality and LGTBIQ+ affairs.

Parellada touted local government’s commitment to awareness-building and training, as well as the launch of the Comprehensive Care Service (Servei d’Atenció Integral, SAI). Assembly members agreed that work in such areas must continue, and called on the Balearic government to promote and coordinate LGTBI public policies and fulfil their duties as keepers of the cause. They called on Madrid to continue working to pass legislation for equal treatment and the LGTBIQ+ collective and legislation for the real and effective equality of trans people.

28 May 2021
Communications Department
Council of Formentera

Changes to public health measures

Consell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer outlined changes in public health restrictions expected to take effect Sunday 23 May after backing from the cabinet is secured tomorrow. “I’ve had the chance over the last two days at Fitur to sit down with first minister Armengol and minister Negueruela  to discuss the measures that will be in place on our island for the next two weeks”, she said.

Ferrer started with a summary of the local epidemiological situation: “Formentera’s active case count holds steady today at two, which means we can continue on our path toward full de-escalation and reopening”, she said. “I want to applaud islanders and businesses for their efforts and sacrifice. Thanks to them, today we’re announcing a new loosening of measures”, she added.

Key changes
-Curfew from 12 midnight to 6.00am
-Gatherings of up to 8 people (outside) and 6 people (inside)
-Restaurants can open until 11.30pm. Groups are limited to 8 people outdoors and 4 indoors. Indoor service must stop by 6.00pm.

“Indoor spaces are still considered risky and open-air activities remain key”, said President Ferrer. “We’re on the right track and the vaccination effort is progressing at a good pace, but we need people to stay responsible and take things step by step”.

Finally, Ferrer said Formentera was “starting the summer with good prospects” and insisted it was “crucial we all work together to inform our visitors of restrictions and the need to follow them. For our part, we’ve begun printing posters in different languages and putting covid info on the Office of Tourism website so we can all enjoy the summer”.

20 May 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera’s oldest man, Pep Mayans, of Can Xumeu Petit, turns 101

foto 2021 xumeu petitPep Mayans of Can Xumeu Petit celebrates his 101th year today at his home in La Mola. On behalf of the people of Formentera, the island’s deputy premiere and councillor for the elderly Ana Juan congratulated Mayans  and offered him a bouquet of flowers and traditional desserts. Numerous family and friends congratulated Mayans and made sure he was in good company all day long. On a birthday walk, Mayans beheld vineyards and his pet pigeons, one of his great hobbies.

20 May 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Minute of silence to condemn VAW slaying in Sa Pobla

foto 2021 sa poblaEarlier today a minute of silence was observed on the steps of the local government seat in condemnation of yesterday's gender-based killing in Sa Pobla, Mallorca. Consell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer was joined by fellow councillors and municipal employees in honouring the memory of the Balearic Islands’ first victims of gender violence in 2021: a 28-year-old woman and her 7-year-old son.

18 May 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

For smooth start to summer and islanders’ safety, Formentera keeps tier 1 rules and continues “slow” reopening

foto 2021 desescalada lenta AConsell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer was joined today in press conference by Josep Marí Ribas and Maria Antònia Font, the Balearic government’s mobility and housing minister and director-general of health and consumer affairs, respectively, to review new measures linked to the covid-19 public health crisis.

Ferrer described the island’s current epidemiological situation as “favourable”, highlighting “zero active cases and zero new infections in the last 14 days”. She pointed to a number of measures that would soon be relaxed as a result, but indicated de-escalation would be slow, “so the island can make it to summer in good stead. The priority is our residents’ welfare.”

With the island still in tier 1 of public health alert, the following restrictions will be in place for two weeks starting Sunday 9 May:
-Maximum six people (no limit on number of households) at outdoor get-togethers and family gatherings. Maximum six people from two households at indoor gatherings.
-Curfew from 11.00pm to 6.00am.
-Normal capacity at shops provided safe distancing measures can be respected. Closure by 10.00pm.

Another important change: eateries with outdoor seating are no longer required to close between 6.00pm and 8.00pm; these establishments can operate until 10.30pm. Rules are as follows:
-Indoor service must stop at 5.00pm on weekdays (Monday to Friday) and 6.00pm on weekends (Saturdays and Sundays).
-Outdoor service must stop at 10.30pm (Monday to Sunday).

Controls unchanged
President Ferrer also stressed the importance of controls on arriving travellers, which she said would continue for two more weeks and perhaps all summer if possible. Ferrer said current collaboration between the Consell, local business and the regional administration sought to offer competitively-priced PCR testing locally and she reiterated an earlier request that figures concerning infected visitors and residents be counted separately “so accumulated incidence isn’t impacted and protocol isn’t changed on account of visitors who have already left”. “And the Govern balear must work with individual island councils on a roadmap for measures, protocols and timelines that people and businesses will respect in summer”, she said.

On Formentera’s currently auspicious state of affairs, “It’s thanks to the responsibility of islanders and our businesses”, Ferrer said. She added, “We know people are tired, but they’ve continued to follow the rules”. The island's top-ranking official also called on islanders to answer vaccination calls with a “yes”: “It is crucial we all get immunised — for our safety and for the safety of those around us.”

For his part, the regional mobility and housing chief acknowledged improvements and Formentera’s praiseworthy case count of zero while insisting on a message of “prudence and prevention”. “We won’t be able to relax until the virus has been eradicated”, he said, and encouraged islanders to get vaccinated.

As for the director-general, “Formentera is the island with the best situation today”, she affirmed, citing data from the Health and Epidemiology Service of the Directorate General of Public Health and Participation. Two weeks have passed since Formentera’s last case was reported, meanwhile, Eivissa, Mallorca and Menorca wade through a weekslong crunch and report outbreaks of the more transmissible and now predominant British variant. As of 6 May, 3,071 vaccine doses have been administered, 2,320 islanders have received a single dose and 751 have received both doses.

7 May 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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