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On Balearic Islands Day, Consell shares remarks by President Ferrer and virtual dance demonstration

cartell 2021 dia illesLocal government’s e-celebration of Balearic Islands Day, including remarks from President Alejandra Ferrer, can be viewed from 10.00am on the Consell de Formentera YouTube channel or downloaded via WeTransfer.

The Consell has additionally put together a video tribute to the hometown dance troupes Es Xacoters and Es Pastorells, available to stream on YouTube or to download on WeTransfer.

One year shy of the colles’ last public performance, the Consell offers up its own humble tribute —a virtual demo with dancers’ explanations of how they’ve spent the twelve months of pandemic— in hopes the troupes will soon be dancing again.

President Ferrer’s remarks can be found below.

 

BALEARIC ISLANDS DAY 2021
Alejandra Ferrer
President, Consell de Formentera

Bon dia and very special greetings as we celebrate Balearic Islands Day.

As with so much the last twelve months, this event must be held virtually — no gatherings in the square, no dance troupes performing traditional ball pagès.

It’s a year since our dancers last performed. A year during which a global pandemic has put our lives on hold, turned our world upside down.

Today, across the archipelago, we commemorate the entry in effect of the Balearic Islands’ first Statute of Autonomy. The day was 1 March 1983. In 2007, 1 March would also be the day when the Statute underwent a modification enabling creation of the Consell Insular de Formentera.

Formenterers had always advocated for the island’s own municipal administration — to give voice to our needs and defend our rights. So we could enjoy the same essential services as our neighbours across the archipelago, and chart our island’s course as we saw fit.

As the competent authority at the island- and municipal-level, we now make our own decisions and have authority in many areas, which means our basic terms are determined by us. But on many other issues of vital importance, we are affected by the economic decisions and interests of other territories. Regulation of moorage and inter-island maritime mobility are two matters that depend on other authorities, and those authorities are prey to powerful lobbies that put their own interests before protection of Formentera’s natural surroundings. Even formentera.eco, a project approved by islanders and local business which seeks to tackle high-season vehicle saturation on the island, has begun to attract detractors — offshore businesses that see our island as a source of ever more benefits, and these at the expense of our interests and those of the individuals that will inherit what we leave behind.

Much remains to be done, not just in the safeguarding of our land, but in the protection of our basic rights, particularly in a year when social inequality and the fragility of our economy have been laid so utterly bare. And speaking of social justice, access to decent housing —a cause both social and political in nature— is of paramount importance. It is among our greatest challenges, and one we share with other areas under considerable pressure from tourism. It must be tackled forcefully and coordinating with every level of government. For this very reason, in the years ahead public participation will be more important than ever; to defend our customs and traditions, our social equilibrium, our sustainability and our future.

Striking a balance between tourism, territorial protections, and our residents’ quality of life is possible when decisions are made by the people. This pandemic mustn’t be a step backward, and no one can be left behind.

But steps down the path to a fairer, more equal society are meaningless if there are no guarantees on our future.

The Balearic Islands form an ensemble, an ensemble that aspires to respect its differences while endeavouring to ensure the well-being of each of its component parts. Throughout this crisis we’ve worked together to keep everyone safe, opening and closing ports and airports, adapting to public health guidelines in line with each island’s particular situation. To stop the spread of this virus. We’re not there yet, but we know we’ll get there if we are guided by a sense of the common good.

Solidarity will again be crucial as we work on the vaccination timeline. The goal must be first to get vaccines to the most vulnerable and at-risk, and then very quickly to the rest of us, with our hopes set on herd immunity. I appeal to all levels of government to do everything possible to make sure we have enough vaccines to be able to do just that, so we can restore free movement and reactivate our economy.


We are an island thrice insular, a condition which, for all its disadvantages, has its good sides too: during the pandemic, it meant we could isolate, getting out of tight squeezes quickly while still enjoying the outdoors with exercise and walks.

There are many things that unite us in the Balearics, but it’s our differences that make us unique, and Formentera will always defend those singular qualities. Today I’d like to share a cherished memory of a moment last year in the run-up to summer that united people across the islands. Lockdown restrictions had been eased for the first time, and suddenly we were able to go outside and roam the island as we’d never done before. As the days went by and our neighbours across the archipelago regained freedom of movement too, many eivissencs, mallorquins and menorquins came to visit. We saw new faces, recognised old ones, and built a kind of familiarity that’s fundamental to feeling empathy and solidarity with one’s region and one’s people.

Restrictions are relaxing because recent weeks have seen a significant decline in local Covid-19 cases. But as you know, we need to remain alert as summer approaches, respecting safety protocol to avoid a second wave capable of endangering public health and the economy once again.

As talk turns to safeguarding our health and wellbeing, we can’t not think about the six locals who lost their lives to Covid-19. My condolences go out to their families and friends and to all those who have lost loved ones to this pandemic.

And my thanks go to key workers who have kept working throughout this crisis. And to my fellow islanders, for your support and cooperation, and for making our job easier.

Days like today help us pull together and reach our shared goals, for though each of our islands is different, something we’ll always defend, we cannot carry on like this if we don’t struggle as one and take problems at the root — rather than simply devoting our time to damage control.

One year ago today, pre-pandemic, we said we wanted an island that was learned, free, cohesive and united.
This year, we need to add ‘healthy’ to that list. We want an island that is learned, free, cohesive, united and healthy.

I began my remarks by mentioning our local dance troupes’ year of inactivity, and I’d like to conclude by sharing a special wish: that the colles might one day very soon gather anew in the square, and that all of us enjoy our traditional dancing and our unity as a people. Soon these memories will only serve to remind us to appreciate the big little things.

Moltes gràcies i feliç dia de les illes.

1 March 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Plenary members set cap on vehicles, expand formentera.eco and green-light new waste contract

foto 2021 ple febWhen local legislators gathered today for the February plenary session of the Consell de Formentera, GxF-PSOE cabinet members outvoted the Sa Unió opposition and secured backing for a rule change in the island’s Strategic Subsidies Plan, paving the way for fast-tracking of pandemic assistance. Finance and tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell asserted the change would get money to crisis-hit islanders faster and create an expanded arsenal of local government responses to the urgent needs of islanders, families and the productive sector.

New waste pickup and transport contract
Another measure that overcame opposition abstention with support from the cabinet involved tendering a procurement contract for waste collection and transport, clean roads and beaches, green spaces conservation and maintenance and management of the island’s waste treatment plant. Environment chief Antonio J Sanz first underscored Consell staffers’ essential role moving the project ahead, adding that the new contract would be “key to bringing the island’s waste management contract in line with islander needs and EU legislation”. “We’re on the way to a cleaner island and a cleaner environment”, he pledged, “and this new service will help us get there.”

The eight-year, €31.5 million contract with two-year option includes terms like an upgraded vehicle fleet, enhanced organics collection, new bins and more frequent pickup.

Extending holiday rentals
One measure that won cross-party support was the cabinet’s proposed twelve-month extension of holiday rental permits which came to term year’s end 2020. Councillor Escandell noted this was the second such extension in two years, with local legislators passing the first last year as a relief measure amid the unfolding public health emergency. “We’ll be tacking on another extension in 2021 because the crisis hasn’t gone anywhere”, said Escandell, calling the measure “just one part of the this cabinet’s multi-level economic response since the pandemic began”.

Permits issued while earlier regulations were in force and which were due to expire in 2021 will be automatically extended. The change also affects permits which were extended previously. An associated €70 fee is typically charged for such permits, which are valid for twelve months.

Alignment with agriculture act
Assembly members also united to support a modification aimed at bringing the island’s territorial plan in line with Balearic legislation on agriculture. Land councillor Rafael González said the move ensured the continuity of Formentera’s agrarian and urban planning regulations: “The Consell will continue supporting and promoting local farming, and we’ll continue safeguarding our land in application of local accords”.

formentera.eco
Cabinet members pushed through the proposed ceiling and enforcement period for formentera.eco, the system of permits allowing motorists to operate vehicles on the island. On Monday the island’s league of civic groups voted to implement the regulatory scheme from 24 June to 7 September 2021, restricting driving and parking privileges to holders of pertinent authorisation.

“We’re extending regulation in both directions per majority accord by the Consell d’Entitats”, said González. He noted that from the start, the sustainable mobility scheme’s agreed upon objective was “to reduce total vehicles on the road by 16%, limiting infrastructural expansion, protecting the land and making sure that visitors to the island find what they’re looking for and that residents can enjoy the island too.”

Authorisations to operate vehicles on local roads will be capped in 2021 at 20,591 — a 4% reduction relative to the previous year which, together with the seasonal timeline of enforcement, Sa Unió party members abstained from voting on. President Ferrer criticised the move, describing it as “manoeuvring by the opposition to undermine enforcement”, and trumpeted the measure’s ultimate passing. “This grassroots proposal is backed by islanders, who have voted not only to support limits on in-bound vehicles in principle but also to extend the regulatory period two weeks. It’s a clear win for sustainability.”

Installing waterside shade structures
Cabinet councillors prevailed over the opposition to ask the Govern balear and coastal authority to study granting Formentera permission to enhance its photovoltaic capacity by fitting seaside parking areas with solar-equipped pergolas instead of other shade structures which have been acquired but not yet remounted — or failing that, to simply remount the extant shade structures in time for summer 2021. Environment chief Antonio J Sanz described the appeal as “just one part of the Consell’s broader multi-faceted environmental strategy”.

Cross-party appeal for SEPE upgrades
Another moment of unity saw the entire assembly press the National Public Employment Service to “take urgent steps to deliver appropriate year-round service on the island”. Deputy premiere Ana Juan described the plea as longstanding and expressed hope that solutions would be forthcoming.

One of several opposition measures that garnered cross-party support will mean local government must petition competent authorities for an accessible entrance at Ses Illetes beach. With a similar measure, the island’s legislators will ask regional authorities to extend public health subsidies to masks, with a cost-free option for pensioners and jobless individuals and, by the same measure, press Madrid to consider lowering the 21% value-added tax (IVA) to 4% on purchases of FFP2 masks.

Pine processionary
Cabinet councillors brokered an opposition measure pushing the regional government for new systems to eradicate the pine processionary and for continued fumigations in the most affected areas of the island. Councillors also asked the Govern to study and subsidise risk-free pest control techniques and seek agreement concerning a service or drop-off point for caterpillars captured with alternate controls.

Report from Councillor Antonio J Sanz
The environment and inspections chief began a report of projects in his departments by touting efforts to “retool the service for the new imperatives of the pandemic, adapting to evolving local needs and making public services available round-the-clock.” Sanz highlighted a 2020 tweak of the roadworthiness site’s appointment-scheduling system, with an additional hour in afternoons and increased total appointments, and applauded the service for maintaining a waiting-list of zero even today. “Inspections aren’t typically as visible as other municipal services”, Sanz asserted, “but Covid-19 has meant developing our presence on the ground: notifying hotels of changing restrictions, fielding inquiries and helping get businesses up and running again amid so much uncertainty.”

As he reviewed initiatives from the environment department, Sanz described the year in waste management as “full of changes” and one typified by Covid-19 compliance, upgrades and preparations for a new procurement contract for waste management services. 2020 also brought passage of an “Integrated Environment Permit” for Es Ca Marí substation: “Finally we have a document that differentiates between seasonal and permanent features of the substation and outlines noise mitigation measures and emission safeguards”. The year also came with developments in the Save Posidonia Project, a land grant for the Centre d’Esports Nàutics and a definitive contract to regulate moorage at Estany des Peix — meaning formation, at long last, of a follow-up committee.

Turning to the energy transition, Sanz pointed up VPP4Islands, new facilities and passage of the Special Plan for Energy Installations. He also noted the successful tendering of installation of new buoys, plus pallet- and bicycle-recycling initiatives and other projects linked to the circular economy.

Women’s Day
Plenary participants also green-lighted an International Women’s Day proclamation for 8 March — a day dedicated to increasing visibility around the struggle for equality and efforts to cultivate female participation and empowerment. Councillors agreed the pandemic has thrown up new obstacles both social and systemic in nature which undermine female participation and leadership. “We’ve been saying this for a year”, said equality chief Vanessa Parellada, “Formentera now has a female president, our island’s first. Of 17 elected positions, nine are held by women. Anyone paying attention to the local handling of the pandemic can see we have female leadership. But, the question remains, can we talk about full equality on Formentera? Answering it is our challenge as we move forward. We all have our part to play in the process, because inequality doesn’t benefit anyone.”

26 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera enters tier 3, with outdoor seating at 50% capacity and six-person groups OK to gather from 2 March

foto 2021 noves mesuresConsell de Formentera chief Alejandra Ferrer sat down today with Balearic health and consumption minister Patricia Gómez to assess the state of covid-19-related affairs and gauge the impact of preventive measures to date. Deputy chiefs Ana Juan, Susana Labrador and Rafael Ramírez were on hand as well, together with Balearic Health Department assistant director of hospital care, Francesc Albertí, and Eivissa-Formentera Health Office manager, Carmen Santos.

Later in press conference Ferrer and Gómez announced plans to introduce tier 3 public health orders from Tuesday 2 March, with the local premiere contrasting the island’s 170 active cases at the start of February to the seven-person case count today (“all have received primary care and no one is currently hospitalised”, she pointed out). The figures mean Formentera can loosen restrictions, said the premiere, “but we’re far from a place where we can forget about public health protocol”.

Tier 3 rules from 2 March
Social and family get-togethers limited to six individuals from no more than two distinct households
Until 6.00pm bars and restaurants can offer outdoor seating at half capacity, max. four to a table and two households
“Sealing off” of entry and exit points continues
10.00pm-to-6.00am curfew remains

Building awareness
President Ferrer asked islanders to be mindful that in the previous seven days Covid-19 had claimed yet another local victim, pushing the pandemic-wide total to six on Formentera, 691 across the Balearics and 68,468 nationwide. “We can hide behind excuses like age and pre-existing conditions, but many of these people would still be here with us if not for this disease .”

“As the island prepares to take restrictions down a notch, it’s important to note that we’ll do it with respect, responsibility, solidarity and, not least, experience”, said Ferrer. “Today’s step forward mustn’t be cause for tomorrow’s step back.”

Ferrer insisted the de-escalation of Covid-19 control measures had to be gradual — “so we don’t get caught in a fourth wave that jeopardises our health, the summer tourist season and a broad push for vaccination. Our priority is an immunity rate that lets us reopen and regain freedom of movement, for the sake of our everyday freedoms and for the sake of economic recovery”.

Vaccination push
Ferrer said government and health authorities were collaborating at every level to execute the essential vaccination push, insisting “regular islanders” would get their turn after vulnerable people, health workers, seniors and key workers. “But we need vaccines to get here”, she continued, “and for production and distribution to be fast.”

The premiere called on “all corners of government to do what’s needed to get vaccines delivered”, insisting the heavily tourism-dependent nature of the Balearic economy made the matter even more pressing. “Twelve months into the pandemic, uncertainty has pushed business to the brink and hospital workers to physical exhaustion, and the rest of us are worn-out and scared too”, she said. “Getting this vaccine here and organising its rollout will take teamwork and compliance with safety protocol.”


25 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Consell takes Balearic Islands Day celebration online

cartell 2021 dia illesThis 1 March, the Consell de Formentera will host a web-based celebration of Balearic Islands Day (Dia de les Illes Balears). Virtual revellers can tune in to the Consell de Formentera YouTube channel from 10.00am to hear remarks from presidenta Alejandra Ferrer, plus see a social media-ready video tribute to the hometown dance troupes Es Xacoters and Es Pastorells.

One year shy of the colles’ last public performance, the Consell offers up its own humble tribute —a virtual demo with dancers’ explanations of how they’ve spent the twelve months of pandemic— in hopes the troupes will soon be dancing again.

24 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Consell d’Entitats weighs formentera.eco scheme to regulate in-bound vehicles

foto 2021 CdE 1Members of the island’s league of civic leaders gathered yesterday at 7.30pm to take stock of 2020 figures for formentera.eco and assess the latest plan to limit vehicles on the island. When the Consell d’Entitats reconvenes next Monday, attendees will share feedback from respective groups and render their verdict concerning the project’s definitive approval.

With enhanced tier 4 public health orders in place, in-person participants at the encounter were limited to Consell de Formentera chief Alejandra Ferrer, mobility chair Rafael González, citizen participation chair Vanessa Parellada, a clerk and a senior Formentera Department of Citizen Participation staffer. Representatives of civic groups and political parties, together with members of the media, tuned in online.

Over thirty association members logged on for the Consell d’Entitats’ first treatment of formentera.eco. President Ferrer applauded the strong showing, calling the turn-out “crucial to making sure Formentera’s longstanding march toward sustainability is shaped by both political and economic stakeholders”. Ferrer confided that “2020 was very tough, and 2021 will be too”, but asserted abandoning hard-fought gains was a non-starter: “Backpedaling on our vision for Formentera is out of the question.”

Ferrer pointed to “unique visitor experience” as imperative, and said the secret to Formentera’s setting itself apart lay in “protecting heritage sites, traditions, culture and our physical landscapes”. “Vibrant tourism and a growing economy need to translate to better quality of life for Formentera residents”, insisted the première, “and to get there, projects like formentera.eco are essential.”

formentera.eco 2020
Presentation of 2020 formentera.eco figures fell to the Formentera Department of Mobility chief Rafael González. One year prior to the scheme’s rollout, local legislators aspired to ultimately see a 16% drop, punctuated by yearly -4% benchmarks, in the total number of in-bound vehicles, intending for the figure to be reached gradually over the 2020-2024 term. All told, 19,725 motorists got the green-light from formentera.eco in 2020, just shy of the established maximum of 21,487.

For twenty days starting 5 August and in the heat of the summer rush, visiting motorists claimed more than 95% of the total permits available to them (formentera.eco authorisations ran out altogether for the four-day period starting 13 August). The island generally managed to avoid maxing out entirely, Ramírez said, highlighting the decision to lower the permit ceiling for resident drivers in an effort to temper fallout from the pandemic. As the councillor put it, “What the figures show is that, the Covid crisis notwithstanding, regulation is still necessary”.

formentera.eco 2021
Proposal terms as communicated to Consell d’Entitats:
-4% ceiling reduction (relative to 2020 figures)
2019: 22,382
2020: 21,486
2021: 20,591
-Regulatory period subject to discussion:
Option 1: Last week in June until first week in September
Option 2: July and August
-Fee-based or free of charge?

Free advance reservations can be made in the permit request section of the formentera.eco site, expected to go online again in March. Bookings will be finalised in May and, pending developments of the pandemic, will be free or subject to payment. Permits are guaranteed for travellers with bookings for overnight accommodations or arrangements to travel with a personal vehicle made before March.

Sustainable mobility
By González’s lights, “the formentera.eco endgame is a brand of sustainable mobility where foot traffic, bikes and public transport all gain ground against cars”. He pointed to a number of routes forward on the path to sustainability:

Public transport
-€100,000 to restore Formentera public transport to the 2019, pre-Covid level.
-Free rides for people under 18 and dependent individuals plus companions.
-Public transport by taxi: engage chauffeurs’ association in discussion of proposed increase in seasonal licences as needed. Ride-hailing services prohibited.
Promoting bicycles
-Complete bike lane in Port of La Savina.
-Encourage pedestrian and bicycle travel on Camí de sa Guia between La Savina and Ses Illetes.
-Revamp parking and expand cycling zones at Ses Salines reserve.
-Encourage pedestrian and cyclist travel on Camí des Brolls linking La Savina and Sant Francesc with Es Pujols.
-Subsidies on purchases of traditional and electric bikes. (€15,000 in funding already available).
Communications
-Website and app Próximo Ferry provides arriving travellers with information about public buses
-Local sustainable mobility and formentera.eco information stand in Port of La Savina.
-“Metrominut” maps/leaflets featuring distances and travel times between Port of La Savina and Ses Illetes/Es Pujols/Sant Francesc to promote pedestrian and cycling options.

16 February 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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