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Areas General Services Presidency

Consell discusses coronavirus with heads of tourism and local business

Foto rp reaccions coronavirusJFormentera’s president and chief of tourism Alejandra Ferrer sat down with Vicent Tur (president of Hotelers de Formentera), Pep Mayans (president of the island’s small and medium-sized business group, Pimef) and Lina Tur (spokeswoman for the Formentera Chamber of Commerce) for a press conference following a meeting to evaluate the current situation with regard to coronavirus.

Ferrer highlighted a Monday meeting with the regional government, economic sectors, island governments and town councils to discuss the cancelation of the ITB travel expo, related fallout and measures necessary to ensure promotion in the market.

On that note, Ferrer said she relayed Formentera’s belief in the importance of reinforcing marketing efforts “beyond Germany, including in mainland Spain, Italy and France, which are among the most vital markets for Formentera”.

She pointed up efforts to retool promotions in national markets like Spain and Italy that Formentera targets, and come up with new strategies to pick up slack following the cancelled events.

Contingency plan
President Ferrer and the other representatives called on the Govern balear to articulate a contingency plan. Ferrer underscored “concern among business owners because the coming weeks are when personnel are typically hired”, explaining “the uncertainty of the current situation creates instability for employees and employers alike. If the situation were to continue, we would ask for assistance, as we did with the fall of Thomas Cook”.

Increasingly flexible reservations
The president of the local hoteliers’ group pointed out that the bottom had yet to fall out on existing reservations, but that “the previous seven days have seen a slow-down in new bookings by our visitors from Italy”. Tur urged the sector to take a cue from airlines, travel agencies and tour operators and allow for greater flexibility in booking: “We’ll boost confidence if we make it easier for travellers to change or cancel their reservations”.

Public health
In the words of President Ferrer, “we have an extremely good healthcare system in the Balearics and health authorities are doing everything in their ability to assure care for both islanders and individuals who may be ill during their stay on Formentera”.

Tourism and health authorities are constantly updating protocols for workers and visiting travellers. As President Ferrer pointed out, the Govern balear has called on island administrations, town councils and health agencies to convene Monday 9 March to discuss related strategy moving forward.

She also highlighted reports from the Spanish tourism and health ministries that efforts are under way to create a specific protocol for establishing measures to address the various scenarios potentially faced by the tourism industry. “This is about being prepared in terms of how we protect our workforce and visitors”, she said.

The Pimef chief voiced his hopes such a protocol would come quickly so it could be passed along to his associates. “It’s crucial employers and employees understand the steps that experts say we should be following”, he said. For now, Pimef has appraised local firms of specific hygiene measures to implement.

Ms Tur, for her part, urged prudence, assuring her colleagues that the Chamber of Commerce “is keeping a close eye on developments and intends to follow the directives of the health authorities”.

Call for composure
Government and business representatives were united in that insisting calm, reasoned action would be key. According to President Ferrer, “this is a global issue and our only response to it can be local. Rest assured, we are following every development. Meanwhile, the Consell de Formentera, Govern balear and local business and tourism sectors are working together to put all the resources at our disposal toward shaping guarantees for the tourist season around a positive progression of events”.

5 March 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Alejandra Ferrer: ‘If Formentera wants sustainability, we need unity’

foto 2020 dia iles 1The Formentera government’s official celebration of Dia de les Illes —Balearic Islands Day— took place today at 12 noon in Plaça de la Constitució. President Ferrer gave an address underscoring the progress seen on Formentera since 2007, when a retooling of the regional autonomy statute left the island with its own consell, or council.

Ferrer said that challenges lay ahead for Formentera, like protecting islanders’ basic rights, “one of the most important of which is access to acceptable housing. This is an issue that must be dealt with forcefully and in coordination at every level of government”.

The president likewise spoke about the need for a renewed commitment to Formentera’s social, economic and environmental sustainability, and underscored plans to push the needle in that direction. The year 2020 will mark the second anniversary of Formentera’s scheme to restrict in-bound vehicles during the heavy months of summertime crowding: “It’s a way to continue preserving our island for future generations, guarantee quality of life for our inhabitants and deliver a more enjoyable experience to our visitors”.

Other challenges cited by Ferrer included regulating moorage at Estany des Peix, closing the water cycle and eliminating single-use plastics. “In times like these, it’s important that we unite behind common objectives: for a just society, a safeguarded environment and a healthy and shared economy. We want a society that is educated, free, cohesive and supportive.”

Poetry reading
Before Ferrer’s public address, a reading was done of five fragments of poetry from four poets, one from each island in the Balearic archipelago. Formentera’s former mayor, Isidor Torres, read a segment of Majorcan poet Guillem d’Efak’s “Les illes”, after which Selva Garrone, a teacher, read a piece of “No t’he parlat avui...” from fellow Minorcan Pere Gomila.

Following that, Sasha Riccardo and Munay Guzman interpreted two fragments from two poems, “Lletra menuda” and “Sal i Silenci”, by Eivissa poet Nora Albert. Finally, writer/director of the Sant Ferran school Neus Costa interpreted a fragment of “L’espera de la letargia”, by hometown poet Maria Teresa Ferrer.

Members of the local Formentera cabinet, opposition party representatives and the head of the Balearic government’s office of modernisation and digital administration, Ramón Roca, and others, were also on hand for the event, which concluded with a performance of traditional dance in the square by local troupes Es Xacoters and Es Pastorells. Those in attendance were treated to a sampling of signature Formentera fare at the event’s closing.

1 March 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

In plenary, final clearance secured for land plan revamp ahead of Sant Ferran’s new low-cost public housing

ple-febrer-2020jFormentera held its February plenary session today, a gathering that brought definitive approval to the fourth round of changes to Formentera’s Local Land Plan (Pla Territorial Insular, or PTI). The go-ahead came thanks to supporting votes from the Gent per Formentera and Socialist Party (GxF-PSOE) governing coalition and despite the abstention of councillors from Sa Unió.

Said mobility and land chief Rafael González, “we know how serious the housing problem is on Formentera, and with this change we’ll be able to give the Balearic housing agency [Ibavi] a single plot for construction of a new crop of rent-controlled public housing in Sant Ferran”. The retooling also means freeing up land for a new park nearby for children. González described the pair of measures as complementary to the various improvement projects —upgrades on Avinguda Joan Castelló i Guasch, construction of a primary school and nursery— that the Formentera government has overseen in Sant Ferran in recent years.

Councillor González said the rules change was also about bringing the island into line with prevailing trends, removing obstacles for islanders keen to instal self-use solar panel systems in their homes and, at the same time, promoting renewable energy. What’s more, bugs have been worked out of the 2010 rules: formalities related to land use are now more straightforward for government staff and islanders alike. Today, a decade after councilmembers voted to enact the rules, a name change is in the pipeline, so what were once referred to as the island’s “Subsidiary Rules” (Normes Subsidiàries) will henceforth be known across the archipelago as PTI.

formentera.eco 2020
Having described Formentera’s plans for the next 12 months of formentera.eco to the Council of Entities (Consell d’Entitats), the land and mobility councillor presented the scheme to the full-house gathering. Entry will be granted to 4% fewer cars than last year, and the period of enforcement will be from 1 July to 31 August. The measure passed with support from the GxF-PSOE governing coalition despite abstention from the opposition.

But González insisted formentera.eco was about more just than “tightening the tap on incoming cars”. “We’re shooting for a sustainable mobility where residents and tourists naturally begin to move differently”, he said. “That means improvements to public transport like buses and taxis. It means more people cycling and more space for pedestrians.”

The number of motorists who receive a permit to drive on the island will shrink by 4% every year until 2023, when there are 16% fewer cars on the road than when formentera.eco first launched. In 2020, 11,952 permits will be available for visitors seeking to rent a car on the island (including Formentera residents, the figure is 21,487).

Quotas for rental car agencies, tourists and Eivissa residents
The maximum number of standard-size automobiles available for rental by tourists is 2,592 (for scooters the figure is 6,720). A total of 2,180 permits will be available for drivers who want to bring their own vehicle (220 if the vehicle is a motor-scooter). Eivissa residents, for whom the number of quotas remains unchanged from last season, are the only ones who won’t see reductions in the available supply. “It’s about guaranteeing access to our neighbours”, explained Councillor González, “and upholding the law”. Up to 220 Eivissa drivers can request a permit to bring a car (for scooters, the total is 20), and the application carries no associated fees. As in 2019, no permits will be issued for four-by-fours, caravans or RVs.

Quotas for residents
Although there is no limit on permits for motorists who reside on Formentera, Councillor González said he hoped that “with the growing momentum around sustainable mobility and the growing list of alternatives to status quo transport, we hope islanders will naturally start to use their personal cars and scooters less”.

Formentera residents are still exempt from the authorisation fee, and as in 2019, the application process can be completed on formentera.eco. Also similarly to last year, authorisation for drivers with a permit to park in blue zone street parking will be automatic. Authorisation can be verified by entering a vehicle’s plate number on a section, still in development, of the formentera.eco website.

González pointed out that permits will not be denied to tourists who already had a booking for lodging or ferry passage prior to the measure’s adoption and its publication in the regional gazette. Formentera.eco will offer such individuals the chance to process their case online.

Service fee
With “yes” votes from the governing coalition and despite “no’s” from representatives of Sa Unió, plenary members gave the initial green-light to a proposed service charge for tourists who bring a private vehicle to the island. Just like last summer, tourists will be charged €1/day for cars (minimum fee: €5), and €0.50/day for scooters (minimum fee: €2.5). The minimum fee is just one of the changes motorists will see in 2020. Islanders from the other Balearic Islands and electric car drivers will also avoid paying minimums, and drivers of hybrids pay half price. “We expect the minimum fee will help cover the project’s cost”, concluded the councillor.

Support came for a measure to renew the current waste collection and transport contract until such time as a new one can be tendered. Environment councillor Antonio J Sanz said the contract would move forward “as soon as cost structuring data is received from five firms”, intimating that pick-up and shipment of rubbish had been deemed essential services and must continue even pending determination of a new service concessionaire.

Councillors also passed two measures brought by the opposition. The first proposal dealt with renewing efforts to remove asbestos from buildings under the jurisdiction of the Formentera government. Councillor Sanz expressed his support for the proposal and said the government already ensures pickup of illegally dumped materials. Plenary members likewise agreed to fast-track legislation of road safety improvements at the Porto-Salé turnout from the main highway. Councillor González told assembly members to expect to see changes before the start of the tourist season.

Status update from Councillor Paula Ferrer
Head of the local offices of sport, island services and human resources, Paula Ferrer took stock of progress on efforts within her departments. Starting with human resources, Ferrer said the priority was “improving workplace conditions—key to stabilising local services”. She also spoke about short-, mid- and long-term goals, like creating pools of qualified candidates for temporary and permanent openings, publishing a transparent pay chart for all Formentera government employees, adopting a schedule of positions, and coming up with a path for full-time staff to become civil-service employees.

Ferrer also ran through recent improvements to the island’s sport and fitness infrastructure, like upgrades at the swimming pool, at the main football pitch and other pitches in Es Cap de Barbaria, at padel courts and elsewhere. The children’s park in La Savina has been equipped with a calisthenics circuit, pergola and street lighting. Repairs have taken place in the Ses Bardetes neighbourhood, while islanders in La Savina, Sant Francesc and other towns can now enjoy newly installed basketball hoops. Urban areas and roads have seen changes as well, like the removal of architectural barriers in Sant Francesc. Lastly, Ferrer spoke about some of the priorities of Formentera Department of Sport: “Dedicating all our efforts and resources to incentivising sport among schoolchildren”.

Official proclamation on Int’l Women’s Day
Members of the assembly came together to issue an official proclamation on International Women’s Day, 8 March. Councillor of equality Vanessa Parellada presented the text, which encourages “islanders of every gender to join our plea for a fairer, more peaceful, more sustainable world”. “The movement around International Women’s Day continues to grow stronger. It has become undeniably powerful—just the women who make up its core. Many men have joined the cause as well, for gender equality benefits everyone, and men’s and women’s destinations are intertwined”.

The councillor also trumpeted another milestone, the election of Formentera’s first-ever female president, not to mention the fact that women now hold 9 of 17 elected posts in Formentera’s governing body. “Equality is increasingly visible and public”, she affirmed. “The challenge that lies ahead is nothing short of complete equality on Formentera. It’s a challenge we must all rise to, because equality benefits everyone.”

25 February 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Formentera asks Palma for special strategy and targeted measures to tackle housing problems

reunio---institucional-armengoToday in the Formentera government’s hall of ceremonies, island president Alejandra Ferrer met with Balearic first minister Francina Armengol, local vice-presidents Ana Juan, Susana Labrador and Rafael Ramírez and Ms Armengol’s cabinet minister, Pilar Costa.

The meeting offered a review of the projects developed over the course of the previous term, including the hand-off of authority on tourism promotion, construction of the new school and nursery in Sant Ferran (a visit followed the gathering) and the rollout of formentera.eco —the plan to count and cap vehicle entry on the island— as well as other ventures still in the offing.

One of the priority points was housing. In that regard, Formentera officials called on their counterparts from Palma to create a Comprehensive Housing Office (Oficina Integral de l’Habitatge). President Ferrer placed “an unprecedented housing bill entailing a whole slew of improvements” among the “many steps already taken by the regional government”. “But Formentera’s highly unique situation leaves us in a legal grey area, which is why we need a special plan and specific measures to make sure the right to housing is a reality here.”

For her part, Ms Armengol granted that “some of the housing measures applied elsewhere in the Balearics aren’t applicable to Formentera”. She pledged to listen to proposals from Formentera and see how they could be made to fit with rules backed by the regional government. “A solution here is imperative”, she said, “there are so many people that can’t afford market prices, or, quite simply, aren’t finding any available homes”.

Maritime transport and moorage checks
President Ferrer voiced her hopes that the project to regulate moorage across Formentera’s coast be moved forward. On maritime transport, she acknowledged that the recent securing of early-morning and late-evening ferry passage between Eivissa and Formentera constituted a success, “but continued efforts will be needed to ensure a minimum standard of service, and to protect the route that boats cut across Ses Salines nature reserve”.

Ms Armengol said the Balearic government was ready and willing for more progress in those areas. “Thanks to regulation developing a special funding scheme for the Balearic Islands, we had our first-ever rules on freight transport, including assistance for inter-island shipping with special protocol for Eivissa and Formentera that could mean savings between the two islands of up to 72%”.

Formentera officials also called on their regional counterparts to collaborate in the effort to close the water cycle, including upgrades to water treatment. Other requests involved work to open the Formentera Museum, and recovering traditional use of the island’s salterns.

20 February 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

Formentera asks Madrid to consider acute isolation of islands

foto-reunio---alejandra-ferrerAlejandra Ferrer sat down today at the seat of local government with Patricia Abascal, thanking the senator for the chance to meet and taking the opportunity to impress on her the island’s principal appeals in hopes she will defend them before the central government in Madrid.

The Formentera president reiterated the importance of “a special system of funding [called the ‘Special Balearic Regime’, or REB] reflecting Formentera’s situation of triple insularity”. While discussing calls for the creation of a local magistrate’s court, the two officials also identified another imperative: bridging the gap between residents and municipal services.

Another bullet point involved developing the Sustainable Development Goals as a pathway to tackling and preventing climate change. President Ferrer highlighted the local administration’s efforts to reshape municipal housing ordinances in an effort to create a year-round stock of available-for-rent housing to protect the basic right to housing of people on Formentera.

Senator Abascal, for her part, insisted that one of her priorities was “raising awareness about the islands and the living conditions of those who call them home”, stressing “people in the Balearics have needs and our colleagues in Madrid must listen to them and do their best to understand them and look for solutions”. Abascal reasoned such particularities warranted the programming of a conference about insularity and autonomous municipalities. President Ferrer pledged she would discuss Formentera’s specific issues with the senator so they could be addressed at the event.

6 February 2020
Department of Communication
Consell de Formentera

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