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Covid-19 rulebreakers ticketed

Formentera Local Police and Civil Guard write 21 citations for flouting coronavirus safety protocol at Ses Illetes beach

Island law enforcement have reported 21 violations of Covid-19 safety measures. Officers cited 21 individuals in a gathering of various households on Ses Illetes at 5.30pm. The citations will now be forwarded to the Balearic office of emergencies and interior, which will calculate the corresponding fines.

7 April 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Pressing for personnalised approach, Formentera urges reconsidering of mandatory masks at beaches and outdoor areas

Consell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer has responded to yesterday’s announcement in the Spanish national gazette that masks would become mandatory in natural spaces. The island’s top-ranking official described the edict as “completely at odds with previous policies which recognised the authority of regional and municipal governments on Covid-19 restrictions”.

The chief cast the approach as “heavy-handed, at least in the case of a place like Formentera. A safe distance can usually be kept at beaches and natural spaces here and the risk of viral spread can be duly avoided”. “If the central government wants people’s buy-in the purpose of these measures needs to be clear”, she insisted. Previous rules didn’t require masks at beaches, open-air pools or outdoor spaces provided safe distancing measures could be practised.

Balearic first minister Francina Armengol is scheduled to take part in the Joint National Health Council (CISNS) today. President Ferrer urged her to advocate for a rethinking of the rule: “It needs to be reevaluated and adapted to each setting and situation, reflecting the characteristics of each place and the changing state of affairs in each municipality”.

31 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Lawmakers vote to reimburse and slash fees and designate La Mola windmill as cultural interest site

foto 2021 ple marc AWhen decision makers convened today for local government’s in-person March plenary, they delivered cross-party support for an amendment of the tax ordinance regulating fees paid by new businesses and temporary early permits for professional activity.

Land chief Rafael González defended the measure as a “needed economic boost” and cast it as part of a broader effort by Formentera’s government to help hometown businesses ride out the economic storm with a combination of assistance and reimbursements of taxes and fees. Start-up dues will be subsidised to the tune of 50% through year’s end and an 83.3% pullback has been announced on changes of ownership and upgrade fees, which will go from €1,200 to €200.

Last tweaked in 2013, the ordinance must now be adapted to new regulations, with a legal opinion to be issued in 2022 expected to carry additional associated taxes — those will apply to non-permanent or itinerant professional activity not subsidised by the Consell or subject to municipal controls and inspections, and González insisted their entry into force was contingent on interim economic turnaround.

Contract with GIREF temporary consortium
The local cabinet overcame abstention from the opposition to approve the 2021 operating schedule and make official last year’s contract with GIREF, a temporary consortium formed to oversee for project drafting and construction, commissioning and operation of integrated waste treatment facilities per Eivissa and Formentera’s Urban Waste Management Plan. Environment chief Antonio J. Sanz noted that a transfer fee of €145.11/tonne per 2021 had been set. Lawmakers also rejected the concessionaire’s request for compensation for post-pandemic fallout.

Municipal fire brigade
Assembly members came together to green-light modification of the jobs catalogue to classify municipal firefighters as C1 workers as now listed in local government’s 2021 budgets. Temporary head of human resources Antonio J. Sanz said the measure sought to bring employment practices in line with current regulation and was the product of a multilateral agreement with unions. New internal regulations for the local fire and rescue service also passed with cross-party support. Interior chief Josep Marí said the vote meant regulations were “up to date and in line with today’s reality”, and would “lay the groundwork for the functioning of Formentera’s fire brigade”.

Diversity in schools
Assembly members additionally united behind a proposal to staff Formentera schools with teachers specially trained in diversity. Education and culture chief Susana Labrador presented the measure, which calls on the Balearic ministry of education and vocational training to hire support professionals and/or instructors to ensure care for students with special educational needs. She stressed that “students with special needs must be a priority” and called the assembly’s unanimous support for the measure “significant”.

Plenary participants handed cross-party backing to regulatory framework for the partnership between Formentera’s government and the Audiovisual Cultural Association of Formentera (ACAF) for content production at local public radio station Ràdio Illa in 2021. Under the arrangement, the Consell pledges up to €50,000 to ensure effective and adequate public service communication. Susana Labrador took the opportunity to applaud the professionals at Ràdio Illa and ACAF members “for their work, previous and ongoing, since the start of the pandemic. Their uninterrupted reporting will be a benchmark in terms of the public information service”. Labrador’s assessment was echoed by the opposition.

Molí Vell de la Mola, Formentera’s first landmark of cultural interest
The GxF and PSOE cabinet trumped the abstention of Sa Unió members to classify La Mola’s lighthouse as a cultural interest site (BIC). According to heritage chief Raquel Guasch, designation of el molí Vell de la Mola as Formentera’s first BIC monument “is the culmination of an administrative, technical and legal process dating back to November 2019”. She insisted the team overseeing the affair had “dotted every i and crossed every t to make sure technical and legal requirements were in place”. “Protecting our heritage is the first step to enriching its value: it helps us grow as a society and it’s a path on which we intend to continue”, she concluded.

With “yes”s from GxF and PSOE and “no”s from Sa Unió, backing was secured for a cabinet-brokered proposal urging the Directorate General of Traffic (DGT), part of Spain’s Ministry of Interior, to study the possibility of providing face-to-face service on Formentera. According to general services chief Bartomeu Escandell, the proposal —a response to pandemic-era mobility restrictions and the triplified effect of insularity that blocks Formentera residents from accessing the same services as other Spanish citizens— puts regional and central government authorities on the hook with guaranteeing a wider array of locally available services.

Sewage pipe upgrades
Cross-party support materialised behind a proposal tabled by Sa Unió councillors and amended by cabinet members which presses the Balearic government to issue fresh calls for repairs of the island’s sewage pipe and an operational audit of the waste water treatment plant. Environment councillor Antonio J. Sanz stressed “the importance of consensus among parties on environmental issues such as this one”.

Josep Marí reports
Chief of infrastructure, primary sector and interior Josep Marí gave an account of progress within his departments. Regarding the primary sector, Marí called recovery of the countryside and rural areas “one of the Consell’s strategic axes since its 2007 founding” and summarised related work over his nearly two years in office. As for the local farmers’ co-operative (Cooperativa del Camp), the councillor highlighted economic support from the Consell in the form of an annual €130,000 grant, which is designed chiefly to fund efforts associated with the ‘fons de terres’ ”. Made up of plots offered up by local landowners for growing and conservation, the “farmland reserve” currently stewards 270 hectares (ha). Sygpac calculates that there are 2,325 ha of cultivated land on the island, more than 10% of which is cared for by the farmers’ co-op.

Marí also held up ongoing work to promote traditional fishing, highlighting collaboration between the Consell and the fishermen’s guild and speaking to the two entities’ shared goal of “offering islanders quality fish caught using sustainable practices that preserve the surrounding seabed and guarantee a rich, extensive marine biomass”.

On infrastructure, he said that projects under way today incorporated the two-fold objective of improving the island’s towns and services and jumpstarting the economy, pointing out hard times had not put a stop to public works. As Marí gave an overview of the main projects in the offing, he insisted inhabitants’ tranquility was central to current and future changes in urban areas, and emphasised key features like more walking areas and fewer architectural barriers.

Lastly, the councillor expounded on work within the interior department, highlighting difficulties over the last twelve months: “We’ve been on the front line during this worldwide pandemic, and on all fronts, monitoring and enforcing the stream of regulations, orders, restrictions, lockdown rules and tier changes and guaranteeing at all times the sort of public service that the situation required”. In that respect, he praised “the efforts of local law enforcement and emergency responders in this difficult year, and of all municipal workers in general”.

Before concluding the day’s session, the cabinet and opposition united in support of a declaration to commemorate International Transgender Day of Visibility. 31 March is a day dedicated to celebrating trans* people around the world and raising awareness about the discrimination they face. In the words of equality chief Vanessa Parellada, “with this declaration, we add our names to a celebration trans* pride and visibility. By presenting the Consell’s support, we offer our hope that such pride and visibility never stop”.

26 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera applauds Holy Week travel ban in islands

foto 2021 valoracio tancamentRegion will prohibit travel to and from rest of Spain, except, as local gov’t requested early on, inter-island travel

Earlier today Consell de Formentera premiere Alejandra Ferrer hailed news the Govern balear would forbid travellers from entering or leaving the Balearic Islands and went even further, calling on the central government to close Spain to tourists from abroad. Just as the island’s government had issued an appeal to the Balearic first minister to prohibit travel into and out of the region, the local premiere has today dispatched a letter to the Spanish health, consumption and social welfare minister and industry, commerce and tourism minister requesting a sealing-off of national borders to all international travellers.

“The Easter holidays are crucial: people are tired and they need politicians to be coherent in the decisions we make. Our response mustn’t leave things worse than they are now”, said Ferrer. “For Spain to be under lockdown and our communities to be facing countless restrictions while international travellers can come and go on holiday as usual is absolute nonsense”, she continued. “Now is the time for Madrid to show responsibility and halt travel in order to protect our wellbeing and our economy, especially considering the epidemiological situation in many European countries today.”

The local leader reiterated previous appeals for a slow de-escalation of restrictions, drawing parallels between Formentera’s current situation and the state of play just before the long weekend in early December, when the island’s case count shot from zero to 170. “We need people and politicians to be responsible if we intend to avoid a repeat of the same situation”, she asserted.

Vaccination push
President Ferrer insisted that with the mass vaccination effort set to resume today, “if we want our immunity to be at a safe level, it’s crucial that any move to reopen happen hand in hand with vaccination. The public and private sectors will have to work together to implement the full arsenal of measures to make sure the summer season ahead is as safe as possible”.

Inter-island travel OK
From 26 March to 11 April the Balearics will be closed to all but inter-island travel, just as Consell officials had previously requested. President Ferrer seized the opportunity to ask people in the region to be responsible and respect measures so the Easter holidays don’t trigger another wave of infections, and called for immediate targeted closures to stem viral spread should the situation worsen on any one of the islands. She also welcomed news that antigen tests will be given to inter-island travellers who stay more than 72 hours in another location.

New restrictions
The Consell de Formentera is currently preparing the latest round of infographics to keep islanders informed about restrictions set to take effect between 26 March and 11 April, not to mention a special document to bring foreign travellers up to speed on local restrictions should international travel be permitted.

24 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Consell unlocks €630K for local freelancers and small business

foto 2021 ajudes autonomsThe Consell de Formentera made public details today about €630,000 in assistance to help self-employed Formentera residents and locally-based small businesses weather fallout from Covid-19 restrictions. The money will come in equal parts by local and regional government, with details posted yesterday in the Official Gazette of the Balearic Islands (BOIB). The applications period is now open and all submissions must be received by the end of the day 19 April. The Consell and Govern balear plan to expand the initial €300,000 aid package pending signature of a second accord and plenary approval of a budget retooling in early April.

“The aim of this aid is to increase liquidity and keep small businesses operational, because they’ve been among the hardest hit during the public health crisis, and are crucial to Formentera’s economic and social fabric”, said Alejandra Ferrer, who pointed out that multilateral discussions leading to the current aid package had included local business owners — a configuration the premiere asserted was key to advocating for the specific needs of Formentera tradespeople, and one she pledged would remain unchanged during the talks around a second round of soon-to-be-announced assistance from the Govern balear.

Ferrer was joined at the presentation by deputy premiere and commerce and entrepreneurship chief Ana Juan and tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell, plus Josep Mayan, chairman of Formentera’s league of small- and medium-sized businesses (PIME); Juan Manuel Costa Escanellas, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, and Lina Bustos, spokesperson for the Balearic Confederation of Business Groups (CAEB).

Ana Juan said discussions about who would receive the aid had included local business owners and insisted efforts had been made to bring the offer in line with the particularities and precise needs of Formentera’s freelancers and professionals. For instance, unlike in other places, aid on Formentera will be available to businesses with up to ten employees, and in a wide range sectors including artisans, tourism-related businesses, food service, retail, workshops and more.

For his part, Bartomeu Escandell said the expected add-on was designed to bring the assistance to as many freelancers and impresarios in as little time as possible.

Business representatives hailed the news and encouraged local small business owners to starting filling out their applications.

Funding between €1.5K and €7K
Three types of assistance have been established. The first totals €1,500 and is available to market merchants and freelance vendors without a physical shopfront who have paid freelancing dues at least three months from 14 March 2020 to January 2021. The second totals €2,500 and is available to businesses with a physical location and whose owners have paid business dues anywhere from three to six months. The third totals €3,500 and is available to businesses which have opened six months since emergency orders were enacted. In the first case, applicants (natural or legal persons alike) can receive no more than €1,500. However, in the second and third cases, they can receive up to €5,000 and €7,000 respectively if they have two establishments.

Applicants must have their workplace and tax domicile on the island to be eligible. Likewise, their annual average of employees must not exceed ten; annual turnover must remain under €600,000 and declared benefits in 2020 must not exceed €35,000 or invoicing in 2020 must have been at least 35% lower than in 2019. In addition, people who already received support as part of the one-off Covid-19 assistance package in July 2020 are not eligible.

Twenty working days to request aid online
To facilitate access and answer any questions, the Consell de Formentera is encouraging islanders to contact an information hotline at 971 32 10 87. Applicants have twenty working days from the day after the announcement of aid (up to and including 19 April) to make their request on the Virtual Citizen Information Office (OVAC). Complete information and details about terms will be posted to the Consell de Formentera website.

19 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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