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Formentera allies itself with LGTBI community

foto bandera lgbtToday, June 28, World Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual and Intersex (LGTBI) Pride Day, a  rainbow flag —a symbol of pride for LGTBI movements— was hung from the balcony of the Formentera Council. The flag presented a public symbol of the administration's commitment to those communities. The decision to raise the flag —“a call for respect and visibility for sexual and gender diversity”— came on the back of a joint measure put forward by Gent per Formentera and the socialist party at the CiF plenary session Friday, June 24.

Additionally, Formentera has joined a network of public administrations dubbed Municipis Orgullosos which support LGTBI causes. The push is being fronted by Ben Amics, an Balearic Islands-based association that mobilises around LGTBI issues. The CiF's councillor from the socialist party, Rafael Ramírez, along with social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada and vice-president Alejandra Ferrer, were all three present has the flag was raised.

Formentera schools freshened up

foto tancat escola sant francescThe Formentera Council Office of Infrastructure has reported on a recently-completed initiative to install new fencing around the island's primary schools. The project included switching out the old fence that circled Mestre Lluís Andreu primary school (200 metres at the upper building and 185 m at the lower building) for a new one. Similar substitutions were made in Sant Ferran, where 60 m of fence were replaced, and la Mola (43 m of exterior fencing and 45 m around the early learning playground). The cost of the projects was 21,000 euros plus VAT.

To ensure school-zone road safety, the vehicle speed limit has been set at 30 km per hour and new signage is up with both vertical signs and painted indications on the asphalt. The signs are in place at Sa Miranda nursery school, Camí Vell nursery school, Mestre Lluís Andreu, Sant Ferran and la Mola primary schools and Marc Ferrer secondary school. Materials for the project ran €600 and labour was handled by Council staff.

Open-Air Cinema arrives tomorrow with another summer of films in Sant Francesc, Sant Ferran and La Mola

Cinema Fresca Sant FrancescThe Formentera Council's Office of Culture unveiled today its summer Open-Air Cinema programme. Cinema a la Fresca in Catalan, the series brings outdoor screenings of classics and contemporary favourites from Spanish and international film. Culture councillor Susana Labrador spoke at a morning press conference about the summer crowd favourite, which kicks off this week on Tuesday in Sant Francesc, Thursday in Sant Ferran and Friday in la Mola.

Open-Air Cinema's 2006 maiden run consisted of 12 films, all of which were projected in Jardí de ses Eres. Recent years have seen crowds jump to an average of 200 people. In 2009 organisers tacked on an extra day in Sant Ferran and, in 2015, with the help of Espai F, the summer film series arrived in la Mola.

Under the artistic direction of Veronique Landy, the Council-backed initiative will run three months (July through September) and bring a diverse selection of silver-screen gems to the island's public squares. Alluding to the film initiative's burgeoning draw, Councillor Labrador spoke about “the exceedingly large spot Open-Air Cinema has carved out for itself on Formentera's agenda of cultural events.”

Open-Air Cinema is the CiF culture office's bid to showcase original versions of independent films with Spanish subtitles. This year's programme includes 41 pictures, from the 1930s and present day, from a variety of countries around the world. According to Landy, the 2016 movie list was conceived as “one possible way to understand our world, its story and human beings themselves — a rich and complex bunch.”

Among the series' heavyweights is the original version of the fantasy classic, King Kong. A spectacular reading of the beauty/beast myth, this 1933 class will be screened Tuesday June 19. Other greats included in this year's programme are Luc Besson's Le grand bleu, the story of a man's fascination with the depths of the sea, and Salt of the Earth, a project by documentary filmmakers Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro about the life and work of the esteemed Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado.

Open-Air Cinema kicks into gear Tuesday June 28 in Jardí de ses Eres with Roman Polanski's film noir masterpiece Chinatown. Thursday June 30, Sant Ferran audiences will get to see Mis hijos, Eran Riklis's surprising take on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Then, on Friday July 1, crowds at la Casa del Poble in la Mola will be treated to the Commedia all'italiana classic La armada Brancaleone (released alternately in English as For Love and Gold and The Incredible Army of Brancaleone) by filmmaking great Mario Monicelli.

In the words of Councillor Labrador, the open, natural surroundings chosen for the film series —Jardí de ses Eres, the Sant Ferran square and the front patio of la Mola's Casa del Poble— “make Open-Air Cinema the perfect chance for crowds to enjoy a relaxing evening of film.” “And,” she continued, “if we manage to promote some of the seventh art's most enduring international jewels in the process, all the better.”

At plenary, council members urge scuppering Balearic Sea petroleum explorations

Foto ple juny 2016Earlier today the Formentera Council convened its June plenary session. Members unanimously passed a proposal to urge the regional environment ministry in Palma to disqualify Spectrum's overdue environmental impact study on oil and gas exploration in the Balearic Sea. CiF environment councillor Daisee Aguilera explained that, if allowed to go ahead, the activity could take place “a mere 20 kilometres from the Pitiüsa Islands and cover an area of 14,000 square metres”. The Council has requested the project be cancelled. Explaining the Council's stance, Aguilera cited the fact the completed study came due April 20 and the Govern Balear Ministry of Environment's extension on the deadline came a month and a half late.

Plenary members also voted unanimously to pass a joint proposal encouraging “respect and visibility for sexual and gender diversity”. Social welfare councillor Vanessa Parellada thanked all the political groups for backing the proposal, which she described as a way to “show support for the law guaranteeing legal protection for lesbian, gay, transexual, bisexual and intersex individuals, wipe out sex- and gender-based fears and assert the Council's commitment to LGTBI groups.” On that note, it was announced that on June 28, the Council would raise a rainbow pride flag in celebration of World Pride Day.

Excepting a “no” vote from Partido Popular, the day's plenary session brought unanimous approval for a bid to change the official form of address for council members from honorable to senyor (sir) or senyora (madam), a measure aimed at decreasing the divide between elected officials and locals. Unanimous go-ahead was also given to a proposal to draft an official declaration celebrating June 14, national Spanish sign language day.

Report
The vice-president and councillor of the president's office, the tax office and the office of rural affairs, Bartomeu Escandell, addressed plenary members today. Speaking about work in the president's office, Escandell highlighted recent work with the CiF chair to organise and coordinate government and administration operations. “One of the Council's top priorities,” he declared, “is to ensure unity and cohesion in a group of such varied political backgrounds”.

By contrast, Escandell identified the tax office as the “CiF division with the fewest changes under foot”. He claimed a responsible management was behind the success of the Council's budget stabilising efforts. According to the councillor, the yearly budget stands at roughly 22 million euros and the Council is able to earmark money for re-investment, something he called “fundamental for a place like Formentera that lives off of tourism”.

Ca ses Castellones
Councillor Escandell shared his concern over the “economic impact of a judge's ruling on the Ca ses Castellones case requiring the CiF to pay 1.5m euros”. Aside from financial considerations, the councillor had a broader critique to make, for society in general and local politicians in particular. He called the present case “a clear example of the pitfalls of rash decision making” and recalled the chain of events between 2003 and 2005 that saw the PP —with backing from GUIF and PREF— sidestep construction restrictions at the site and sign a building permit just one week before the project faced review. The upshot, he explained, is that the Council has been asked to pick up what started out as a 5m euro tab. Susana Labrador, spokesperson for Gent per Formentera, called on the PP to “assume political responsibility for the repercussions of the ruling”.

Rural affairs
Councillor Escandell also took time to speak about the Farmland Reserve project. He described the goal as going beyond “winning back the image of an actively farmed countryside” and extending to “enhancing crop yield”. To the second point, he said locally-grown products were necessary for providing cheap options for livestock feed and “turning over fine-dining calibre products that we can be proud of”.

On agriculture, Escandell highlighted the importance of a recent announcement from the Govern Balear's chair Mateu Ginard that plans for the local irrigation pond have been set for next summer.

In terms of fishing, the councillor called “stepping up monitoring operations along our coasts” his personal crusade.

Safety
Escandell stated his own pledge: “To make our beaches, coastline and island safe.” To do so, Escandell referred to the Council's 37 person-strong team which works with other forces behind the exclusive task of ensuring order and safety.

In terms of firefighting, Escandell reported on the addition of one professional fireman to the island's brigade, which is made up of four professionals and two volunteers. He also hailed “the speed and professionalism of our firefighters' response to a string of vehicle arson incidents this winter”. The councillor said those fires are still under investigation.

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