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Councillors gather for year-end plenary on environment and land grant for low-cost housing

foto 2020 ple desembreRepresentatives of the Consell de Formentera logged on today for their December gathering, a full-house session in which councillors handed cross-party support to motions on improved patrols and signage at Ses Salines nature reserve and on a land transfer to the Balearic housing authority so rent-controlled dwellings can be built in Sant Ferran.

Patrols and signage at Ses Salines
Environment chief Antonio J. Sanz defended a measure calling on the administration of Ses Salines nature reserve of Eivissa-Formentera to urgently replace ‘no swimming’ signs in Sa Sèquia canal; to produce a timeline for replacement and maintenance of signs identifying no-parking areas and shared pedestrian and motorist roads, and to incorporate additional personnel at the park. Sanz offered that “safeguarding the reserve is as vital as the work of every government agency involved”.

Solar panels at desalination plant
Universal backing was also secured by a measure calling on the Balearic government to “support energy transition goals, including in renewable energy, by initiating the necessary steps so photovoltaic panels can be installed at the desalination plant”. Councillor Sanz trumpeted the opposition’s embrace of the measure and described “cutting demand for electricity and generating clean energy with structures where additional construction or land is unnecessary” as “an integral part” of the Consell’s environmental policy.

Supporting local business
Assembly members again struck unity on a motion to support local business owners—“a primordial part of Formentera”, according to commerce councillor Ana Juan. The motion included an appeal to the Balearic government to make the needed provisions for investments in energy transition, modernisation and dynamisation to support local trade. Expounding on local and regional pandemic-related initiatives this year, Councillor Juan asserted, “What benefits Formentera’s businesses benefits the rest of Formentera, too”.

Unity was additionally struck on a proposal brought by sport councillor Paula Ferrer to urge the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to make karate an official sport in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and onward.

Sa Unió proposals
Two proposals brought by Sa Unió party members were approved unanimously: one concerned upgrades on the Es Cap rubbish tip road, another saw councillors agitating for the urgent return of 10.30pm Eivissa-to-Formentera ferry service.

Land transfer to Ibavi
Assembly members found common ground green-lighting the transfer of a plot of land to the Balearic housing authority (Ibavi) ahead of plans to build social housing on carrer d’Alacant in Sant Ferran.

Land councillor Rafael González said the land transfer was part of a longstanding effort that would also entail construction of a new park and green spaces: “We’re hoping the build happens as soon as possible. It will be a housing supply boon for those who need it most.”

Remarks by Susana Labrador
Second deputy premiere and culture and education councillor Susana Labrador stood before the assembly to relate actions across her departments. She insisted the imprint of the pandemic was impossible to ignore: “It is abundantly clear that education and culture are assets and rights, and that they’re essential for society and for the holistic development of individual and collective personalities.” Labrador argued that that relevance hasn’t saved them, though, asserting both had suffered under the unfolding crisis. In that sense, the councillor made assurances that Formentera’s government would continue enacting public educational and cultural policies.

On education, the councillor reviewed the impact of pandemic-era school closures in March and underscored work by pupils, teachers and parents to adapt to new circumstances with virtual learning during the general shutdown and protocol for a safe return to classrooms afterwards. She also gave a summary of efforts to reshape service amid exceptional circumstances during lockdown, the subsequent loosening of restrictive measures and the new normal.

Labrador said the top priorities of Formentera’s office of culture were underpinned by three tenets: “First, continue creating new cultural facilities for the island and improving existing ones. Second, deliver quality cultural programming year round. Third, organise celebrations of local holidays and support groups and festival committees involved in organising patron saint and other cultural celebrations.” The councillor said that the indelible mark of the public health conjuncture has been clear since March, when, amid the months of toughest restrictions, programming went virtual before taking on its current customised form. Labrador concluded by praising the “hard work and commitment of municipal employees and all islanders who work in education and culture”.

Parellada reports
Vanessa Parellada appeared before the assembly today as well, speaking about actions since June 2019 in support the goals and efforts of her departments. “What do youth, citizen participation, new technologies, equality and LGBTI have in common?” she asked, referring to the departments in her purview, rounding off the list with the two departments she inherited from President Ferrer. “They’re all transversal, cutting across the municipal departments and affecting Formentera as a whole.”

Underpinning youth policy is the second version of the Strategic Plan for Children and Youth, a document which councillors adopted during the previous legislative term. While accepting that lockdown constituted a “shake-up”, the councillor asserted that “youth remained at the forefront”, and offering that some young islanders discovered the local youth drop-in centre thanks to the pandemic. Identifying ongoing challenges like continuing to rethink the drop-in centre, Parellada also drew attention to the start of work on the new skate park and praised the well-working order of the Escola d’Estiu recreational programme despite the state of public health affairs.

Parellada underlined the launch of a WhatsApp chat group to complement the Formentera Citizen Participation Department’s e-mail communications with local community groups, insisting the app continued to remain relevant today. The councillor also pointed out local associations had opted to devote the allocation for this year’s “participatory spending” initiative to social spending on account of the pandemic—“something all the cabinet councillors are quite proud of”, she said.

And Parellada applauded liaisons in the new technologies department, who, with the change to remote working in March, dedicated particular energy to supporting their colleagues. She said the growing list of services accessible to islanders on the OVAC [Virtual Citizen Information Office] was behind planned upgrades aimed at making the site simpler and more intuitive.

The councillor said that plans were underway further develop equality measures included in Formentera’s Integrated Equality Plan. Currently in force, the plan supports local community groups who promote equality and sexual and gender diversity. Finally, she said LGBTI policy was “fundamentally rooted in visibility and awareness building around diversity of gender identities and sexual orientation, and not just on a few specific days (to depathologise trans identities, to fight LGBTIphobia, etc.) but all year long”.

22 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

New Covid cases push Formentera to tier 2 protocol

foto 2020 covid nivell 2Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer and Balearic government spokeswoman Pilar Costa appeared before representatives of the media to offer an assessment of the epidemiological situation on Formentera.

Ferrer explained that the island’s government had opted to press the Govern balear for tighter restrictions in a bid to curb local spread of Covid-19. The Balearic ministry of health will approve raising the pandemic response to tier 2 on Monday, with the change to take effect 22 December, a day later. Once again the president encouraged islanders to be responsible in the run-up to Christmas, and stressed the importance of establishing “stable bubbles” for the festivities ahead.

“Caution and responsibility are crucial”, said Pilar Costa. “Fortunately the islanders who have tested positive show mild symptoms or none at all, but viral loads and contagion capacity mean we need to exercise the utmost caution. We’re asking everyone to keep playing by the rules; if we protect ourselves we’ll protect our loved ones too.”

Epidemiological developments
For the seven-day period starting 11 December, local cases out of 100,000 more than quadrupled when they leapt from 74 to 300. The week brought diagnosis of 35 new infections, thirty in the previous three days. At the same time, the rate of positive tests has climbed from 8.6% to 19.6% to more than double.

Levels under both indicators easily surpass European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s benchmarks —3% positivity and 60 cases per 100,000— to qualify an area as at risk.

Vulnerable individuals are prevalent among the new infections: islanders over 65 now represent 273.4 cases in 100,000; on 11 December, the figure was zero.

Finally, traceability has fallen among the new cases: 60% on 11 December, the figure has dropped to 50% a week later.

Key changes
Passage from tier 1 to 2 will mean the adoption of more restrictive measures: the twenty-person limit on outdoor gatherings will be halved, going from ten to six for indoor spaces. Bars and restaurants must additionally reduce capacity depending on the risk levels they face: medium risk establishments with space for 50 will need to cap admission at 70%; spaces where capacity normally exceeds 50 may accept no more than half that number. High risk establishments must fix capacity at 40%. Until now up to ten individuals could be sat at the same indoor table; the number will now be lowered to six. Under tier 2 protocol bar and restaurant managers can fill outdoor seating to 75% of normal capacity or a maximum of ten to a table, while under tier 1 standards the per-table limit was 15. Tier 2 protocol means bar service is also against the rules, as are, in another key change, traditional feast day celebrations.

19 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Haemodialysis service

foto 2020 carta dialisiFRANCINA ARMENGOL
PRESIDENTA DEL GOVERN DE LES ILLES BALEARS
CARRER DE LA LLOTJA, 3
07012 PALMA (ILLES BALEARS)

Formentera, 17 December 2020

Madame President,

Healthcare services at the national and regional levels are deeply impacted by the public health crisis in which we are today immersed. We are aware of this fact, as we are aware of efforts in the Balearics to guarantee a quality public service for all, no matter the illness. Nevertheless, the declaration of emergency orders affected certain islanders particularly, and some of these circumstances have yet to be put right, requiring immediate attention. I am referring to dialysis treatments.

Under the state of emergency, dialysis patients residing on Formentera were made to travel to Eivissa receive treatment. Severely reduced ferry service meant this was no easy endeavour, as it amounted to spending an entire day on our sister island. The situation would be inconvenient for any Formentera resident, but in this case those affected were people suffering ill health.

The patients’ situation has remained unchanged since the lifting of emergency orders. They are still called upon to travel to Eivissa, an undertaking that involves three days per week of ferry travel at the very least.

We must put ourselves in the places of these doubly vulnerable individuals. The first risk they face is on account of the chronic illnesses they suffer. The second is on account of Covid-19. Frequent travel magnifies both.

These individuals’ suffering has galvanised islanders’ sense of solidarity, apparent in the 2,829 signatures which we share with you today. In September, plenary members of the Consell de Formentera voted to urge the regional government to reinstate dialysis on Formentera, not least because our hospital, having already provided the service in the past, is already equipped with the necessary machinery and personnel. In June representative Sílvia Tur proposed a non-legislative motion for debate in the Balearic commission on health, and more recently, local decision makers approved an amendment to the Formentera budget creating funding to reinstate the service.

I, myself, as president, have had the opportunity to sit down with an association of Formentera dialysis patients and to hear their description of the situation.

These patients and I speak for the Consell de Formentera and all of the undersigned when we insist on the following point: There must be a way to reinstate dialysis treatment on Formentera and improve the quality of life of these already vulnerable patients.

May the signatures collected and here attached support our call for a hasty restitution of dialysis service, taking into account the ongoing public health crisis and the affected individuals’ distinct vulnerability.

We welcome any efforts to respond to this issue in greater depth, and to shape collaboration or proposals to deliver resolution.

Cordially,

Patient representatives

Alejandra Ferrer
President, Consell Insular de Formentera

Formentera asks for stricter controls to ensure compliance with Covid measures

foto 2020 reunio seguretat brot 2Amid a rise in cases of islanders affected by Covid-19, a special emergency meeting was held today to coordinate controls and inspection operations by security forces like Formentera Local Police, Civil Guard and emergency response services of the Govern balear.

The gathering was attended by Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer, vice-president and trade councillor Ana Juan, interior councillor Josep Marí, inspection services councillor Antonio J. Sanz, FLP chief Félix Ramos and representatives of the Civil Guard and regional emergency response service.

President Ferrer expressed her concern over seven new local infections that brought the total number of individuals on the island affected by Covid to 26, up from seven two days ago. The individuals in question, all of whom either display mild symptoms or are asymptomatic, are receiving at-home care from healthcare workers.

Given the current state of play and predictions that Covid cases will continue to multiply, President Ferrer said the Consell had asked security forces to “coordinate and tighten controls and educational efforts, particularly in enclosed spaces like retail outlets and restaurants and outdoor areas like parks, plazas and beaches, in order to ensure strict compliance with local public health measures”.

Ferrer said that later today the Consell would ask the regional government about a change in the response level, or tougher measures before the Christmas holiday, “in an effort to contain the virus right now”.

Updating protocol
Setting out to reduce spread of the virus as much as possible, attendees of the internal working meeting revised protocol and safety measures in place at gatherings which are hosted by local government and Consell-backed sporting events.

The president additionally announced that the Formentera Mostra de Músics originally set to take place at 6.00pm tomorrow (Friday 18 December) and 12 noon on Sunday the 20th would be postponed due to the public health situation. The Consell de Formentera and Musical Formentera opted to suspend the programme as several members of participating bands had been in close contact with the individuals who contracted the disease.

Ferrer also appealed for “careful monitoring” to make sure that the close contacts in question respected quarantine orders.

Finally, the president called on islanders to “be responsible. This is a very complex situation and we need to work together. We hope that when the vaccine arrives we’ll be able to put this behind us, but it’s important we all make it through this, each and every one of us”.

17 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Alejandra Ferrer urges islanders to double down on Covid-19 precautions

President calls meeting tomorrow Thursday to coordinate safety response

Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer has asked island residents to intensify Covid-19- related precautions. Pointing to the discovery of 11 local cases, Ferrer asserted, “Now more than ever, we need to be extremely strict about respecting public health measures”.

New Covid infections had progressively fallen since the end of summer, with the island reporting a five-day stretch of zero cases from 2 December. But the Consell has insisted the island keep its collective guard up since the crisis began, reiterating that Formentera’s flatlining case count didn’t mean islanders were free to forget about the pandemic. “At the present moment Covid still claims hundreds of lives every day and continues its inexorable march across the planet”, said the president.

Infections have been up since 7 December, coinciding with the long weekend early in the month. “Yesterday, 15 December, we had 7 active cases”, said Ferrer, “and with the latest flare-up, we’re at 19, including one newly hospitalised individual and two freshly declared infections. So I’m issuing a special plea to the island as a whole: now is no time to relax.”

Gathering of security forces
The president has announced an emergency meeting on safety for 1.00pm tomorrow, Thursday 17 December, to coordinate control operations and inspections among security forces like Formentera Local Police, the Civil Guard and regional emergency response teams. Local police have additionally prepared a strategy to tighten controls and ensure protocol compliance at indoor spaces and public areas.

“These are unique circumstances and they run counter to how we normally function as a collective, particularly with Christmas on the horizon. But remember, more than gathering for the holidays, what’s important is that we’re all in good health for celebrations still to come. The public health situation has gotten worse since the long weekend and, if things continue, we’re not ruling out the option of urgently calling for more restrictive protocol before Christmas.”

Lastly, Ferrer voiced her hope that the islanders infected with Covid-19 —currently at home with mild symptoms or asymptomatic— recover quickly, and she asked that those individuals’ close contacts help curb further spread by respecting preventive measures and quarantine orders.

16 December 2020
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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