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Formentera extends economic and fiscal crisis response and launches new jumpstart of economy

foto 2020 ple octParty members convened today for the October full-house assembly of the Consell de Formentera. The session brought cross-party backing for a motion to prolong into the first half of 2021 a set of economic and fiscal measures which councilmembers approved in May. “The crisis hasn’t disappeared”, declared finance and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell. “Today’s vote is about giving a helping hand to those affected by the Covid-19 crisis”, added the conseller, “we don’t leave people behind here on Formentera”.

Assembly members united in support of seven proposed tax ordinance changes. Three aimed to extend 50% cuts on fees at the island’s early-learning escoletes, music and dance school and sports facilities for “crisis-hit” islanders (a term applied to freelancers whose professional activity has dropped 50%), the unemployed, furloughed workers and individuals receiving benefits or universal social income.

The fourth change renewed support for modification of La Mola lighthouse entry fees. As a result, admission costs at Far de la Mola will continue to be waived for island residents, youth and the unemployed. Number five places an additional six-month freeze on fees at the island’s slaughterhouse — a measure the local finance chief offered was “about helping the island’s crisis-hit agricultural sector”.

Changes six and seven involved the six-month extension of a freeze on the public-space occupancy tax on merchants and market vendors. The tax break will continue until 30 June — the same extension that councilmembers adopted concerning the fee for newly listed vacation rentals.

In line with a report issued 29 June 2020 by the Balearic Women’s Institute (IBdona), unanimous backing was also secured for a measure to halve fees on municipal facilities, services and sporting events levied on individuals who receive universal basic income and female victims of gender violence not receiving other benefits.

Estate tax
With support from the GxF-PSOE cabinet and the opposition’s abstention, assembly members provisionally backed a measure to reduce the estate tax (impost sobre béns immobles/IBI) from 0.80% to 0.75%.

Cutting fees and taxes
As part of ‘Formentera, every corner counts’ (Formentera es cuida a cada racó), the Consell de Formentera has streamlined processing of permit requests for small works projects and slashed fees and taxes associated with such renovations and upgrades. Land department chief Rafael González described the measures as a boon for the local construction, refurbishments and maintenance trade.

Accordingly, plenary members united behind a fiscal ordinance tweak bringing a 95% reduction of the tax on construction and installations and an end to fees on public space occupancy requests or small works with plans not previously communicated to local government. Requests must be submitted by 30 April 2021 and may not entail new buildings or expansions.

With cabinet approval and despite a “no” from the opposition, the assembly resolved to reject requests by hotels involving buildability, surface area or occupancy increases. On 15 October, Balearic legislators voted to temper Covid-19 crisis fallout with urgent one-time economic stimulus and a streamlining of local government administrative formalities. According to Conseller González, the change gives tourist accommodations the ability to seek surface area increases of up to 15%, but puts the permit granting process in the hands of island councils.

Maritime excursions
Assembly members came together again to press the Spanish Ministry of Interior and Industry to assure the presence of the Guardia Civil Maritime Service on Formentera and to station a rapid-response rescue boat at La Savina harbour. The tax office chief framed the petition as a question of “adequately responding to maritime emergencies” and “ensuring a closer control of nautical activities and respect for environmental regulations”.

Assembly members also unanimously agreed on the foundations of work with the Farmers’ Co-operative (Cooperativa del Camp) to continue reinvigorating local agriculture and beautifying scenic and rural areas. A collaborative pact reached in May carries a pledge of €52,000 in assistance, and the present agreement entails €78,000 in direct subsidies — “€130,000 so the Cooperativa can continue reactivating local agriculture, safeguard traditions and offer quality products”, said Escandell.

Weaning Formentera off reusable masks and sun creams
Ultimately securing support thanks to backing from the local cabinet and despite opposition abstention, environment chief Antonio J. Sanz tabled a measure to reduce use of single-use masks whenever possible. Sanz recommended the move be accompanied by conservation measures and a plan to cut waste: “We’re met more and more frequently with the sight of single-use masks on the roadside, not to mention in our nature reserve. A reduction is crucial.”

Assembly members urged the Consell de Formentera to work to stem buying, selling and use of sun creams with environmentally harmful products like titanium dioxide, zinc oxide and oxybenzone. Conseller Sanz, who tabled the measure, stressed the long-term goal was “a gradual elimination of these chemicals from local shores” and called on the regional and central governments to come up with plans to halt production and sale of such sun creams.

Putting rural women in the foreground
In a nod to International Day of Rural Women on 15 October, assembly members issued a cross-party plea to the Govern balear to lead a multipronged yearly plan highlighting the role of rural women in agriculture. Members also expressed their will to collaborate on local commemoration of International Day of Rural Women. In the words of equality chief Vanessa Parellada, “it’s about dignifying and valuing the role that rural women, past and present, have had in Balearic agriculture. But it’s also about increasing visibility by coordinating our tribute to the rural woman across various levels of government”. Plenary members likewise urged the regional government to pilot a study on the impact and efforts of rural Balearic women in recent years.

Public transport
In a vote marked by GxF-PSOE cabinet support and the abstention of Sa Unió members, the assembly gave preliminary backing to the “Plan for regular highway transport” (Projecte de serveis del transport regular de viatgers per carretera). The mobility chief described the move as “the first step towards tendering an initiative that will bring Formentera public transport closer to islanders’ current needs”.

The tentative plan defines pillars of the future transport such as four new routes in addition to the current five; stops in both urban and rural neighborhoods; two-tier, one-/two-hour service frequency and a ten-vehicle fleet (five minibuses and five midibuses, plus one supply midibus).

González cast the smaller sized vehicles as “better suited to the realities of the island, not to mention better adapted to the needs of individuals with reduced mobility and equipped to carry bicycles and suitcases”. The mobility director projected the new service —part of a ten-year contract and subject to a two-year phased rollout— would entail a 31% growth in demand.

Funding waste transport
Assembly members crossed party lines to push the Govern balear to continue assuming costs associated with the out-bound transport of local waste, whether to Eivissa or to other treatment plants. The environment chief charged that guaranteeing earth-smart waste management would require the regional government’s inclusion of such costs in its 2021 spending plan. Likewise, the assembly voted to press regional and central governments to convene a joint committee of representatives of the authorities with jurisdiction in the area.

At the initiative of Sa Unió representatives, assembly members lent cross-party backing to a standing committee ruling and reiterated an August 2018 appeal from the plenary to write the Consell de Formentera’s membership in Consorci Eivissa Patrimoni de la Humanitat into the group’s charter. The plenary called on the consortium to accept the observations presented by the Consell in 2018 regarding the CEPH charter tweak.

Report by Rafael González
Mobility and land chief Rafael González outlined his departments’ central actions as the legislative term got under way. Looming large in the conseller’s account was Covid-19 and the accompanying crisis — turmoil which ensured attention in both González’s departments was focused on adjustments to emergency orders, easing of lockdown restrictions and, today, transition to a new normality.

Having concluded discussion of the crisis González turned his attention to the mobility department, where efforts are simultaneously centred on three sweeping projects: the Sustainable Mobility Plan (Pla de Mobilitat Sostenible), the formentera.eco scheme to regulate inbound and local vehicle traffic and improvements to public transport. Looking ahead, González highlighted the creation of a cycling and pedestrian trail around S’Estany Pudent; completion by Balearic Port Authority of a bike lane from the harbour to Camí de sa Guia; access upgrades at Illetes; more pedestrian areas and fewer architectural barriers in towns.

González also anticipated the drafting and adoption of new urban planning strategies in Ses Bardetes, Es Ca Marí and Sa Roqueta.

Lastly, González said the relocation of his office’s urbanism and activities division had given way to better working conditions, improved public service and optimised use of human resources. He also described updates to the OVAC’s online service catalogue — a change which, together with regulatory changes to streamline procedures, he hoped would soon be obvious.

Turning the page on the treatment of trans* as a medical affliction
Assembly members came together behind an official proclamation for International Day for Trans* Depathologisation. Presenting the motion was equality chief Vanessa Parellada, who said “ending treatment of trans* realities as pathology and full acknowledgement of every individual’s right to a unique gender identity” as “two sides of the same coin”. She dismissed the notion that being trans* was a source of anguish among trans* youth (“trampled rights are the real source of suffering for trans* youth and their families”, she charged) and asserted, “Our great enemy —that of trans* people and of all society— is disinformation”. Parellada likewise highlighted the ongoing struggle for trans*-specific healthcare and for an end to medical prerequisites for the legal processes of gender identification, calling herself “a champion of the right of every individual to make decisions pertinent to their body with absolute freedom”. The consellera concluded by asserting “neutrality has no place in public policy. It’s neutrality that perpetuates inequalities”.

28 October 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

President Alejandra Ferrer explains enforcement of new emergency orders

Foto 2020 AF compareixencaConsell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer gave a press conference and open address to explain the latest round of public health measures and nighttime mobility restrictions stemming from the central government’s newest invocation of emergency powers. After speaking the president took questions from media representatives and from regular islanders who had sent WhatsApp messages to the Formentera Department of Citizen Participation.

President Ferrer explained that yesterday’s declaration of a new state of emergency meant people across Spain would see their movement restricted from 11.00pm to 6.00am. The Consell has already called for a 12-midnight start on Formentera provided the local public health situation remains stable.

Saturday saw the local adoption of a host of additional measures that involved loosening existing restrictions, and Ferrer asserted those changes would remain effective barring a worsening of the situation. Social and family gatherings are limited to ten people indoors and twenty outdoors. Parks have also been opened and terraces have seen capacity increased.

“The current situation is favourable but we must be extremely prudent. Today things are O.K. and in a couple of weeks they good go south, so we need to be prudent and humble with our requests”, Ferrer said. She also called on islanders to show solidarity with other Spanish territories in less favourable situations, reminding them that Formentera shares its health department with Eivissa: “Formentera patients will be at risk too if Can Misses Hospital hits saturation”.

Ferrer indicated the weeks ahead would see local leaders advocating understanding of Formentera’s distinct features and needs, in terms not just of public health, but of social and economic factors as well. As far as decision making goes, Ferrer offered that “too early is better than too late” — a strategy she said had remained unchanged since the first wave of the pandemic.

“We are now in the midst of the second wave”, Ferrer told islanders. The majority of new cases can be traced to festive encounters and leisure: gatherings with family or friends — particularly at night, when inhibitions subside and people tend to be more relaxed. “We all want to be able to gather again as usual”, said the president, “but when we do that we endanger ourselves and those we love. If we want to be able to come together again, today we need to keep our distance, we need to wear masks and avoid contact with people outside our stable core”.

“Winter’s coming and with it other ailments like the flu and respiratory afflictions which, combined with the coronavirus, can become very dangerous and aggravate symptoms no matter how old the patient is.”

“If we take care of each other we’ll enjoy more day-to-day freedoms like going to school, working and maintaining social relations in limited groups. With the arrival of cold weather we’ll be using indoor spaces more, making the virus’s spread more likely, so Formentera will be staying home at night. We’ll do it knowing that we may be subject to restrictions but we’re still able to lead mostly normal lives.” Ferrer called for islanders to be responsible and respect rules, “not least because we know the alternative to our current situation: stricter measures”.

Click here to see President Ferrer’s full address.

26 October 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell to accept applications for three openings on local police force, create fire department reserve list

cartell 2020 oferta feina PLF 2The Consell de Formentera human resources office reports that a call has gone out for three career positions with Formentera Local Police. Applicants must be eligible for C1 public service employment and successful candidates will be determined based on the outcome of a public exam.

Recruitment has also begun for a new reserve list to meet the urgent need for temporary members of the Consell de Formentera fire brigade. Candidates will be hired on a group contract basis.

The terms of the two calls for applicants have been posted to the website of the Balearic Employment Office (BOIB) and can be viewed here, in the job offers section of the Consell de Formentera website.

16 October 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera adopts 21 of 23 proposals from second ‘State of the Island’ debate

foto 2020 2n debat estatToday the Consell de Formentera held the second of two debates intended to serve as an open question on the state of local affairs. But for one opposition vote, all 12 cabinet-sponsored measures at the full-house won cross-party backing. Of the opposition’s 11 proposals meanwhile, nine passed with unanimous support and two met rejection. All told, 20 of the day’s 23 proposals passed with united backing.

Gent per Formentera and PSC-PSOE Formentera proposals:

Tourism
Concerning tourism and looking ahead to the 2021 season, assembly members agreed unanimously to support ongoing efforts by Consell and Govern to urgently shape national and international partnerships and protocol to reflect the unique characteristics of Formentera and create safe visitor corridors—something Consell president and tourism chief Alejandra Ferrer described as “key to offering visitors and residents a safe island”.

Ferry connections and Port de la Savina
Plenary members also voted together to urge the Balearic government to make 6.00am Eivissa-bound and 10.30pm homeward bound ferries part of guaranteed year-round service. And they went further, calling on the Govern to append legislation on maritime transport with a fixed timetable and minimum/maximum frequencies for the regular Formentera-Eivissa line as well as, true to article 28.3 of the legislation, limits on organised boat trips to Formentera.

Mobility chief Rafael González remarked on the 6.00am journey’s disappearance from the daily timetable several weeks ago and expectations that the evening trip would soon follow suit, adding, “These are essential connections for Formentera residents. That’s why we’re pushing the Govern to require this minimum service by decree. Ferries are the only way on to and off the island, and this change will establish those connections among the guaranteed fundamental rights of islanders”.

Among several proposed changes in La Savina, González won cross-party backing to press the Balearic Port Authority to update use guidelines in place at Port de la Savina, a modification that would mean moving the moorage points of organised excursions to the passenger wharf and creating different zones for “social dockings” and rental dockings. Assembly members voted to enshrine the changes in the harbour’s use guidelines and special strategic plan.

New cycling and pedestrian loop
Passing despite Sa Unió abstention was a Gent per Formentera/PSC-PSOE-proposed measure calling on the Balearic coastal authority, Govern and Consell to create a trail for cyclists and pedestrians around the perimeter of Estany Pudent that incorporates Camí de sa Guia, Camí des Brolls and an as-yet hypothetical arterial linking Es Pujols and Ses Illetes. Assembly members also asked for changes to the system of controlled access at Ses Salines reserve to incentivise more sustainable modes of transport and safeguard the natural surroundings and islanders and tourists’ enjoyment of the reserve.

According to Conseller González, “This is about enciting residents and tourists to walk and cycle, enchancing the mobility experience and protecting the natural surroundings”. He said a ban on motor vehicles would be critical to restricting access to area residents, and highlighted partnerships with other administrations as key to cutting a new path between the Sa Roqueta area of Ses Illetes and Es Pujols in order to complete the loop”.

Crisis response
Cross-party support additionally materialised around a call on the Consell to continue shaping a response to economic fallout from Covid-19 and to engage with distinct political parties and economic and social actors to come up with an economic recovery plan. Finance and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell promised that help for at-risk groups and economic assistance would remain the administration’s top priority, calling a multilaterally-agreed roadmap “essential given these unusual circumstances”.

Enhancing Formentera Local Police
The GxF/PSC-PSOE Formentera cabinet and opposition struck unity around a measure championed by interior chief Josep Marí which, based on Balearic legislation on inter-department coordination, supports the Consell’s ongoing recrutement of new officers for the local police force. The measure also calls for cementing a stable and large enough local force and for securing key legislative changes to favour long-term placement in candidates’ chosen location during competitive exams.

Renewable energy
In a step towards green energy self-sufficiency, assembly members gave unanimous support to a reorganisation and promotion by the Consell of renewable energy on the island. Environment chief Antonio J. Sanz, in addition to highlighting last year’s plenary vote to declare a climate emergency, pointed up work on a renewable energy plan as well as legwork currently under way to equip the municipal football pitch with solar panels in 2021. As Conseller Sanz pointed out, not only would the solar panel project benefit from 43.65% funding assistance from the Govern, 84% of the energy generated would be used by the pitch itself.

On the environment, assembly members reached cross-party agreement on urging the Consell and Govern to create a system to regulate moorage along the Formentera coastline. Sanz highlighted the evolution of the joint project between the island and the Govern balear and concerning a new management plan for Natura 2000.

Plan for Culture
Another measure saw assembly members voting on whether to press the Consell to put participation from islanders and local political parties at the centre of the creation and implementation of a plan for culture. Culture chief Susana Labrador called the plan “groundwork for current and future policy on culture and for new cultural facilities” and said it must “make room for the intersectional nature of culture, intangible heritage, the Catalan language, education, gender mainstreaming” and be accompanied by participatory process.

Housing
Assembly members were united in pushing the Consell and Govern to create and fund the Formentera Housing Agency, asserting that to date, “this critical issue —a concern for untold islanders— has been subject to a patch-work of responses at every level of government”.

Cross-party support was achieved by other cabinet proposals as well, including the creation and enaction of a plan to reinvigorate local business and a comprehensive plan of action in support of islanders with functional diversity. Social welfare chief Rafael Ramírez said the enterprise would be developed “in association with associations across the island and with one guiding objective: delivering a better quality of life and making sure no islander is left behind”.

Opposition proposals
Apart from two opposition measures that assembly members rejected, cross-party backing greeted proposals from representatives of Sa Unió:
-To support ongoing cooperation between the Consell de Formentera and the Tourism Planning and Marketing Committee (COPT) on a Special Annual Plan to Promote Tourism looking ahead to next summer.

-To support the Consell de Formentera’s drafting of a Road Safety Plan to multilaterally develop directives and measures included in Formentera’s Sustainable Mobility Plan.

-To support the Consell de Formentera’s multilateral drafting and development of Sectorial Management Plan for Roads according to current legislation and reflecting the island’s Plan for Mobility.

-To support an urgent buildout —given associated funding has already been allocated by the administration— of IES Marc Ferrer (Marc Ferrer Secondary School) by the Govern balear.

-To support ongoing efforts by the Consell de Formentera to pass and develop planning schemes, development projects, sanitation, improvements and beautification pushes in Ses Bardetes, Es Ca Marí and Sa Roqueta, seeking the engagement and participation of area residents and according to related disposals and agreements with neighbours and groups with plenary representation.

-To support the agricultural sector and promote local produce by developing agreements with the tourism sector, fomenting Formentera agriculture’s visibility and reach on and off the island.

-To support the central government’s creation of a lower court and property register for the island of Formentera.

-To ensure ongoing in-person service at the Formentera branch of the SEPE (National Employment Office) by supporting SEPE adoption of measures vital to maintaining administrative staff active on the island.

Lastly, one Sa Unió proposal was broked by the cabinet and received cross-party support:

-To support a one-off funding increase in the Govern’s 2021 budget to cover rising costs borne by the Formentera Department of Minors.


6 October 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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

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