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Plenary participants press Madrid to seek consensus around domestic and international guarantees on travellers’ health safety

foto 2020 ple juliolA number of proposals got the green-light when members of the Consell de Formentera gathered today for the July full-house assembly: one in particular, brought to the floor by Sa Unió party members and brokered by the GxF-PSOE senior cabinet, calls on the national government to “work toward consensus on international agreements” to control the movements of covid-19 patients before they leave countries of origin and to establish a country- and worldwide system to monitor individuals’ infection status. Guarantees on the reimbursement of costs generated by foreigners required to self-isolate will also be necessary, plenary participants asserted, as well as a cap on the price of coronavirus testing.

Consell president Alejandra Ferrer described the goal as “nation- and worldwide consensus around public health safety for travel within Europe”. “Let there be no mistake, the problem is enormously complex”, she said. “That’s exactly why we’re calling for conversations and consensus at the European level”, continued Ferrer, who said that such an approach could offer “a fix that strikes a balance between public health and the reopening of tourism”.

Assembly members additionally advocated respect for and guarantees on local authorities’ autonomy in managing finances, and agreed to push the central government to remove barriers to funnelling budget surpluses into covid-19 response strategies. “There have been many cases in which local administrations have had to take on responsibilities that aren’t theirs”, tax office chief Bartomeu Escandell pointed out, “often without the corresponding funding from regional and national authorities”, he said.

Broadening protections around La Mola windmill
With “yes” votes from the senior cabinet and the abstention of the opposition, support came for a proposal to expand protections around Molí Vell de la Mola after a recommendation by Institut d’Estudis Eivissencs. Highlighting the input received around the motion to class the “Old La Mola Windmill” as a cultural interest site, patrimony consellera Raquel Guasch held that the safeguards being envisioned, “which can be applied to other sites in the Balearics, are more innovative, and fit more closely with the actual physical layout of the monument”.

Under a second Sa Unió-authored proposal that gained approval after handling by the GxF-PSOE cabinet, the Consell will study the possibility of implementing virtual appointments at the bureau of vehicle roadworthiness tests (ITV), Citizen Information Office and other services.

Cross-party support materialised around the terms of a partnership between the Consell and the Formentera Association for Audiovisual Culture (ACAF) on content production in 2020 for Ràdio Illa public radio. Culture consellera Susana Labrador seized the opportunity to underscore ACAF’s “selfless work to make local radio a reality” and applauded “the efforts of the station’s professional staff to keep islanders informed, particularly during lockdown”.

Report from Consellera Raquel Guasch
Chief of the departments of heritage, language policies and training, Raquel Guasch, stood before the assembly to take stock of efforts her first year in office. She began by saluting the work of department staff and trumpeting “the crucial role of heritage preservation”, stressing its its “social and practical importance” and asserting, “Heritage means nothing if people don’t make use of it”.

“Tangible and intangible heritage are engines of education, enjoyment and social, economic and cultural growth”, said Guasch, “and they need to interact with people”. Looking back over the last twelve months, she extolled fresh energy injected into new classifications of cultural interest sites (BICs); promotion of and education around the Formentera’s underwater and terrestrial heritage, which includes recent discoveries; creation of the first local roads catalogue; more than 350 students signed up for Catalan courses and new tactics to normalise use of the Catalan language, including the Apunts en net initiative; revision of local place names; progress on a framework document for the Formentera museum, and collaboration around the Committee for Memory and Democracy and the Committee for Disappeared Persons and Mass Graves.

31 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

First look at natural spaces management plan and committee to steer moorage regulation at S’Estany des Peix

foto 2020 xarxa natura 1Earlier today Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer, chief of the Balearic office of natural spaces and biodiversity Llorenç Mas and local environment conseller Antonio J Sanz unveiled the Formentera Xarxa Natura 2000 management plan and the committee that will monitor the effort to regulate moorage at S’Estany des Peix.

All told, the management plan covers a surface area of 8,518.49 hectares and five micro-territories classed as natural spaces in Xarxa Natura 2000: La Mola and Cap de Barbaria (terrestrial and maritime) and Cala Saona and Migjorn and Ses Platgetes beaches (maritime only). Twelve distinct special-interest habitats can be found in the zones in question, and five of them are considered priority.

“Formentera’s commitment to environmental sustainability is long-standing”, insisted Ferrer, “and this plan constitutes clear progress on that path”. She quipped that the management strategy was “all the more important because it means effective protection for each one of the undersea environments on Formentera’s coast”, and indicated that the local and regional governments were working to come up with a scheme to regulate moorage across Formentera’s coastline.

Ferrer added that the search for a contractor to pilot the scheme would be “crucial to regulating this protected local heritage site”.

In an effort to promote conservation, the plan’s architects propose not just regulating how people use the areas in question, but also specific safeguards to protect habitats and the animals that call them home, like monitoring human impact on species such as the bottlenose dolphin and loggerhead sea turtle.

Regulating S’Estany des Peix
Conseller Sanz affirmed that the Spanish coastal agency had delegated authority to manage and regulate watercraft moorage at S’Estany des Peix to the Consell de Formentera—a 15-year mandate open to renewal at term.

The Consell and Govern decided last year to pursue the joint initiative, which will involve equipping S’Estany des Peix with 285 moorage points (207 environmentally-friendly, 78 located on floating pontoons). It also means agreeing on which activities are permitted at the lake, and will include provisions for cleaning.

Conseller Sanz called the news “exciting” and said it marked a double breakthrough as far as protection for land and undersea areas is concerned. “We’re seeing the comeback of an iconic project that had run temporarily aground”, he said, “not to mention the renewed prospect of a balanced ecosystem and the return of uses which islanders have historically given the lake”.

With an equal number of Consell and Govern staff, the six-member monitoring committee met for the first time following the press conference and began work on a management timeline. Reasoning that Formentera’s government was the administration closest to the area in question, Sanz asserted both Consell and Govern were working together and coordinating to ensure that management would fall to local authorities.

Per the terms of a bi-lateral deal, the Consell will come up with a proposal to regulate use that includes minimum requirements before a vessel can moor at the lake. The proposal must also establish backstops to guarantee environmental safeguards and respect for traditional uses of S’Estany des Peix.

The Govern, for its part, will be responsible for monitoring the impact of associated infrastructure on flora, fauna and the surrounding area. It will also oversee, with support from the Consell, habitat conservation and recovery projects. Funding for the project to the tune of €652,154 was made possible by the Impost de Turisme Sostenible (Sustainable Tourism Levy).

28 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Consell celebrates Formentera Local Police officers’ completion of training

foto 2020 diplomes policia localConsell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer and Balearic minister of public administrations and modernisation Isabel Castro took part today in a ceremony to award accreditation to three law enforcement agents from Formentera and one from the Eivissa town of Sant Joan who successfully completed a training initiative. Known as the “quarantine course”, the programme was unable to unfold according to initial plans due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Additional attendees included the head of the regional emergencies office, Jaume Barceló; Formentera interior conseller Josep Marí; Balearic School of Public Administration (EBAP) director Mercedes Riera; chief of local police Fèlix Ramos and other figures of authority.

Highlighting collaboration between local and regional governments as “fundamental”, President Ferrer held up further coordination as “pivotal to filling the gaps in our force and ensuring proper provision of this essential service, particularly given our local law enforcement’s proximity to islanders and amid situations like the one we’ve seen in recent months”. “We’ll continue working to achieve the police force that Formentera needs”, said Ferrer, “with the number of officers we need, and with the stability and training opportunities that are needed as well.”

Housing and travel grants
Ms Castro indicated that two of the 29 officers currently in basic local police training are from Formentera, and that, considering the course is being held off the island, those students are eligible for up to €1,215 in housing and travel subsidies from the EBAP.

Castro affirmed that both the Govern balear and EBAP were “sensitive to the enormous sacrifice that far-from-home trainees must make in order become public servants”. “I imagine no one understands that sacrifice quite so much as our two Formentera officers”, she said. Participants in the 41st basic training course at EBAP Mallorca also include 18 officers from Eivissa, nine from Menorca and seven from Mallorca.

28 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera salutes essential service workers of island

foto 2020 Diada 3In official celebrations today for the Diada de Formentera (Formentera Day), the island honoured the efforts of workers who assured essential services during the state of emergency. The celebration, which historically sees the distribution of Medalla d’Or (Gold Medal) and Sant Jaume awards, was specially adapted for this most unique of years in light of the crisis stemming from covid-19.

The gathering took shape at Sant Francesc’s Plaça de la Constitució under the watch of Andreu Ferrer, who gave an overview of events since the start of the coronavirus crisis. A short video reminded the audience of confinement, a time when nearly all Formentera stayed home.

In an address to the crowd, Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer applauded the work of the island’s essential workers. “Today we pay public, official tribute to those who didn’t give up the fight — whether because they couldn’t, or simply because they chose not to. We pay tribute to those who kept us healthy and safe. Those who are still, lest we forget, fighting the fight against covid-19 each passing day”, said the President.

Ferrer underscored the sense of responsibility displayed by islanders, and pleaded with them to keep it up: “We can’t let our guard down. We mustn’t live in fear, but we’ve got to be respectful and responsible: the wellbeing of the individual bears upon the wellbeing of the collective”.

“This crisis has forced us to appreciate what we have, and it’s brought into focus our strengths. But let’s be honest, it also shed light on our blindspots and failings, revealed our increasingly fragile social harmony and laid bare the importance of diversification if we want stability and opportunities for all”. She pledged continued efforts from within government to reduce the toll of successive public health and economic crises on Formentera residents, and promised the Consell’s assistance to all those affected.

“This summer is going to be difficult and for many families winter might be even worse”, Ferrer conceded, “But we’re convinced that islanders will once again show their penchant for organisation and teamwork. That each one of us will continue doing their part for an island and a society that we believe in, where sustainability is key. A richer island, and one with more opportunities. An example of economic growth and universal protection for people. An example of an island where people watch out for each other and no one is left behind”.

Minute of silence
After speaking the President led a moment of silence in memory of all the victims claimed by the pandemic. Pianist and composer José Jaime Hidalgo led the celebration’s crowning moment, performing three pieces that evoked the purifying elements of wind, water and fire: Isaac Albéniz’s Granada, Ariel Ramírez’s Alfonsina y el mar and Manuel de Falla’s Danza Ritual.

Also in attendance were Balearic premiere Francina Armengol, presidential minister Pilar Costa, Formentera consellers and other figures of authority, not to mention representatives of essential service workers who were active during the pandemic. Public health standards required the event be kept to a limited capacity. The ceremony was broadcast live on the Consell de Formentera YouTube channel and is available here.

24 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

Formentera firefighters train in outdoor rescue operations

foto 2020 formacio bombers 3The Formentera Department of Interior reports that the island’s fire crew has taken part in advanced training on outdoor rescue operations. Participants in the 25-hour course practised techniques in rescuing individuals from wells and cliffsides.

Interior conseller Josep Marí said classes, which took place during the first half of July, were geared towards familiarising the local fire department with leading-edge emergency rescue strategies.

Eight crew members successfully completed the course, which was led by Emergency Staff and cost the Consell €5,245.

21 July 2020
Department of Communications
Consell de Formentera

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