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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:

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.

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

Islander wellbeing and collective effort crucial to softening sting of economic crisis, says Alejandra Ferrer

foto 2020 debat estat 1Local leaders came together today in the plenary hall of the Consell de Formentera for the first of two debates on the state of local affairs. Local premier Alejandra Ferrer opened the gathering with remarks about the current landscape, a stock-taking of governance and a look at actions ahead.

Before overviewing efforts in recent months to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, Formentera’s chief officer extended condolences “to the family and friends of our fellow islander who lost her life to Covid-19” and “to all those who have lost loved ones to this crisis”.

The premier highlighted the fact that the 14 March invocation of emergency orders to combat Covid-19 came days after the Consell had already ordered the closure of various services in an effort to keep islanders safe and limit spread of the virus.

She pointed out that “through lockdown, lockdown easing and constant changes to directives for islanders and island businesses, every branch of local government took great pains to communicate and keep islanders in the know so protocol could be followed”.

“Little by little we exited lockdown, and our efforts were rewarded:” —Ferrer recounted— “Formentera was one of the first to begin de-escalation, a transition to the new normal that tested more than the managerial abilities of our administration and local businesses; it tested islanders’ own adaptive capacity”.

Diada de Formentera
The Consell chief also drew attention to local government’s programming around Formentera’s yearly celebration, the Diada de Formentera, describing it as “a thank-you to the island’s essential service providers who, by helping us remain calm throughout the state of emergency, guaranteed not only our safety, but our quality of life too”, she said.

Economic reactivation
On Formentera’s reopening to tourism, President Ferrer said that the rosy outlook around the public health situation in early summer and Formentera’s head start on the new normal “made for a relatively good season—one in which most local establishments managed to reopen”. “But nothing could stop late August”, she said, “with spiking numbers of national and international infections that brought the high season to an abrupt end”.

By Ferrer’s lights, everyone played a part in Formentera’s ability to demonstrate managerial flair — a strength she promised would “help in the run-up to summer 2021, when efforts will need to centre on cementing Formentera’s status as a safe-as-possible destination”.

“The public health crisis hasn’t disappeared and the current state of affairs is eminently complicated”, asserted the premier. “Coming out on the other side will mean taking things slowly and acting sensibly”, Ferrer insisted, “but it’s also going to take personal responsibility, collective effort and capacity to adapt to evolving situations”.

Social and business relief
“Everybody knows that the worst of the economic contraction lies ahead”, Ferrer stated. “The Consell has already issued what will likely be the first in a line of decrees outlining an economic and fiscal response to the economic and social fallout from the Covid-19 public health crisis”.

As she pledged to continue “shaping new measures and initiatives to help islanders cope the consequences of the pandemic and support Formentera’s social and economic fabric”, the president highlighted the following measures:

-Safeguards to strengthen social support systems for families, businesses, employees and freelancers
-Immediate relief for the most at-risk individuals and families
-Strengthening the fabric of the local business community
-Building community cohesion and social support so that no islander is left behind
-Economic reactivation
-Economic diversification including help for agriculture and emerging technologies with an eye to attracting new business and entrepreneurs

“Our end-game is to soften the economic toll of this public health crisis on islanders, the local tourism sector and Formentera businesses”, said the president. “Collective efforts will be vital to reorganising and reactivating the island’s economy. One thing is clear: many people are facing challenges and relatively few resources are available. Our approach must be sensible, and the priority needs to be easing the tax burden on vulnerable families and businesses so we can return to normal as soon as the public health situation permits”.

Social services
Ferrer underscored efforts to create more robust support for families and enable the island’s social services to fast-track payments related to social welfare and family assistance. Expedited payouts also include those made to the Consell’s own service providers, Ferrer said.

According to Ferrer, the situation currently unfolding has laid bare the essential role of social services and the need to reexamine social policy. The following measures are among those already enacted by the Consell de Formentera to fortify the social safety net and guaranteed basic income:

-Putting €325,000 originally intended for the 2020 cycle of Formentera’s participatory spending initiative toward deflecting the crisis’s effect on local families’ pocketbooks
-Freeing up a part of the 2019 surplus for investments in social policies in 2020
-Reallocating €300,000 for food and basic necessities
-Bolstering assistance included in a deal with Formenterers Solidaris (€30,000)

Ferrer also underscored a budget tweak voted in last month’s plenary assembly which will translate into distinct lines of funding this winter, promising that “the biggest among them will go to housing and social welfare”, said the premier.

Sustainable island
Ferrer devoted the second half of her remarks to efforts to make Formentera more environmentally, socially, culturally and economically sustainable.

In Ferrer’s words, “so far as attracting visitors and shaping tourism strategies is concerned, the idea couldn’t be clearer. We must lead with what sets us apart in terms of culture, environment and heritage while bettering services for tourists and quality of life for islanders”. The challenge in 2021, she said, will boil down to being able to “offer reassurances on public health safety and on our ability to ensure the safety of visitors and residents alike”.

Right to housing
One particularly crucial task, Ferrer said, is that of safeguarding people’s basic rights, “and that includes having access to decent housing”. The premier described such access as “one of the most serious problems faced by islanders” and insisted public health turmoil had only made things worse. In that sense, Ferrer trumpeted the decision to direct €150,000 of the recent spending tweak to targeted housing assistance.

“Put simply, our top priorities are young people, training opportunities and not only access, sanitation upgrades, growing towns, streamlining administrative formalities, supporting our small-town business community, creating infrastructure for old people and fostering all islanders’ active participation in local government, promoting basic exercise, supporting culture, rehabilitating local heritage, completing our network of bike lanes, putting in place a new transport service, monitoring and limiting moorage, improving organic waste management, investing in clean energy, investing in our farmers’ co-operative and local agriculture and, 365 days a year, building a Formentera that offers better possibilities to its businesses and, in doing so, improves available jobs and builds a more balanced society”.

Ferrer concluded by pointing to her administration’s overarching goal and the “driving force behind all our efforts: a better, happier life for everyone”. “Since the creation of the Consell, Formentera has gone through serious changes and delivered on historical pleas, and the time has come to think about what kind of island we want to be. Formentera is a place where quality of life, and people, come first.”

Party members took the floor to offer their own remarks following Ferrer’s speech. Ferrer used the time accorded for her rebuttal to close the day’s session. In a second session on Tuesday 6 October, party representatives will propose items for debate in the plenary assembly.

1 October 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell de Formentera renews partnerships with old people’s clubs in La Savina and La Mola

foto 2020 conveni majors 2 la molaConsell president Alejandra Ferrer signed collaborative agreements today with the respective chairs of El Pilar Seniors’ Association and La Savina Retirees and Pensioners’ Club, Jaume Escandell and Maria Costa. Formentera’s deputy premier and chief of the seniors’ department, Ana Juan, was also present at the signing.

As part of the agreements, the Consell will provide each of the two senior centres with €5,500 in funding. The money helps pay for maintenance and fund services, not to mention promote and sustain programming and community activities designed for the elderly.

29 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

National IDs issued on Formentera

The Spanish police’s mobile unit in charge of processing national identification card (DNI) applications will once again offer local service on Wednesday 7 October. Islanders interested in requesting the service can schedule an appointment at the Formentera Local Police department by calling 971.32.22.01, Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 2.00pm. ID cards will be distributed Wednesday the 14th. The mobile unit had temporarily ceased operations on the island due to the pandemic.

28 September 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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