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Formentera reclaims la Mola lighthouse

foto-visita-remodelacio---far-2At noon today CiF chair Jaume Ferrer and Joan Gual de Torrella, the president of the Balearic port authority (APB), took a trip to la Mola to see the completed remodel of the lighthouse there. Also on hand were the CiF councillors of culture, tourism and the president's office, Susana Labrador, Bartomeu Escandell and Alejandra Ferrer, along with the project's architect, Marc Marí.

Work consisted in a preservation-oriented refit of the lighthouse's ground floor and façade, important elements of cultural heritage.

Chairman Ferrer welcomed the visit of the APB president and hailed the atmosphere of warm relations between the two entities that accompanied signature of a deal to give the Council control over management of the lighthouse. The CiF chair said the almost €800,000 remodel by Tragsa is part of an initiative to rebrand the lighthouse into a public cultural space.

Opening to the public
Ferrer also announced that on Saturday and Sunday every weekend in February, the lighthouse will host open days from 10.00 to 3.00pm so islanders and other interested visitors can come see the new space.

The APB president described the initiative as part of the strategy in the Balearics to restore public use to spaces left unoccupied since automation of maritime signals spelled the end of the faroner, or lighthouse keeper. And he saluted the Council on  “excellent work that gets where we want to go on enlivening spaces”.

Cultural venue
Culture department chief Susana Labrador said plans to fit la Mola's lighthouse with museum facilities are ready to go and put completion of the €136,000 project before next season.

Labrador said the ground floor of the Far de la Mola will have “an interpretative centre encompassing the island's other lighthouses, too, plus a focus on the island's relationship with the sea, fishing and migratory movements, not to mention audio, video and images that explore our island's maritime history”.

A multi-purpose space will host cultural programming like exhibits, concerts, conferences, recitals and small-scale theatre productions. The outdoor front patio has been readied for open-air cultural and educational events too, and inside there are a reception area, toilets and a storage space.

Prosecutor sloughs off wrongdoing claims concerning 2010 statutes revamp

In a written opinion submitted May 2, 2018 and communicated to the Formentera Council December 21, the prosecutor's office of Eivissa's number four investigating judge gave its opinion on a corruption claim brought by Sunway SL, owners of a hotel in Punta Prima. The suit named CiF councillors Jaume Ferrer, Sònia Cardona, Bartomeu Escandell, Pep Mayans and Sílvia Tur, who voted to pass the local statutes code known as "normes subsidiàries" in 2010. The office failed to see indications any wrongdoing took place and proposed “a provisional freeze on further related action”.

The suit had already been heard by a court of administrative litigation in response to Sunway representative Leo Stöber's having taken issue with the statutes. On July 8, 2014 the high court of the Balearic Islands ruled in favour of the Formentera Council, saying the defendants' action, which it feels “were lawful”, were “based on reports by experts that the environmentally-fragile stretch of coastline, part of ses Salines nature reserve, required special attention”.

Bartomeu Escandell, who is councillor of the president's office, indicated his happiness with the office's declaration, calling it “consistent with the previous ruling. The statutes held up against scrutiny and claims of unlawfulness once, making the present charge hard to fathom”. Escandell said that while the normes subsidiàries had received the votes of Gent per Formentera and PSOE, for many years those involved in this particular cause were all from the same party.

The councillor said that for his colleagues past and present, he appreciated the peace of mind the written statements and court rulings offer concerning his team's work and their longstanding commitment to the public good and care of the land. He concluded by encouraging prudence, noting that while the statement from the prosecutor's office is favourable, “the final ruling is in the judge's hands”.

Balearic high court refuses to back former Formentera firefighter's claims of wrongful termination

The Balearic Islands' highest court, the Tribunal Superior de Justícia, or TSJIB, issued a rejection of the wrongful termination claim by Rubén Castellar Lozano and overturned a previous ruling requiring the administration to satisfy Castellar's demand of €10,143 in unpaid wages.

Castellar worked for the Formentera Council from March 7, 2016 to January 31, 2017, the day the former firefighter determined he would stop work. However, Castellar arrived at work with his lawyer and a notary on the day in question claiming no knowledge of any agreement to that effect. At that time he filed a claim saying his termination had been invalid.

On that point, the TSJIB declared it had sufficient proof “the Castellar communicated he did not wish to renew his employment contract. In line with this, his employment came to an end by voluntary resignation and not a unilateral decision by the hiring entity”.

Repealed as well is an earlier ruling's requirement the Council provide Castellar unpaid wages, as the firefighter sought to benefit from a convention for which he was not eligible. The court ruled “the plaintiff's wages were those set by his employment contract”, and declared that “a collective agreement for personnel of the Illes Balears administration is not applicable because [the hiring party] is not part of the Balearic administration; it has its own administration”.

Reserve staff

The firefighter also filed a 2014 suit against the Formentera Council claiming entitlement to employment given his place on the administration's list of reserve staff. He won the suit when the court ruled the plaintiff should have started work summer 2014, not March 2016, and Castellar successfully lobbied for compensation despite services not rendered.

Balearic public prosecutor declines to back suit alleging Council breached basic rights

In response to accusations that the Formentera Council failed to uphold fundamental rights, the public prosecutor's office declared it was “of the opinion no rights were violated” and recommended the suit's dismissal.

In a written opinion sent to the judge assigned the case, the prosecutor states “there is no indication” the Formentera Council intended to prevent the plaintiff from participating in union activity. On the contrary, she wrote, such participation “apparently took place with no impediment”.

The prosecutor's letter followed a complaint made public November 5 by the Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT, or “General Union of Workers”). The related suit was ultimately filed not by the union, but by José Ramón Mateos Martín instead.

The Council's senior legal officials are keeping a prudent tack in light of the developments, not least since the prosecutor's position does not amount to resolution of the case. The suit is scheduled for hearing in October. The Council's staff of lawyers and specialists nevertheless applaud the prosecutor's understanding of the administration's effort to uphold the law.

Formentera stacks fire brigade for success

foto 2018 bombersThe president's office of the Formentera Council announces the basic firefighting training course has come to a close. Designed to give individuals collaborating with the fire brigade a taste of the realities of work in the field, the training sessions took place here on the island December 10 to 22.

Thirteen aspiring firefighters successfully completed the course and competitive process of selection to enter the administration's pool of qualified collaborators. Of that number two have already been hired on by the brigade, which presently comprises seven staff employees, five full-time firefighting personnel and two on-call workers.

Efforts in 2018
The crew were called to duty a total of 183 times in 2018. Twenty-five of those actions were fire-related; 14 involved search and rescue and another 26, false alarms; 50 and 68 were the tallies of operations giving technical assistence and preventive help.

Bartomeu Escandell, secretary of the president's office, said the number of blazes in 2018 had dropped by half compared to the same figure in 2017 and contended the dip had allowed the brigade to boost preventive action such as with buffer zones in wooded areas like la Mola. In high fire-risk parts of the island, so-called “mobile forest patrol routes” are another feature of service receiving the brigade's increased attention.

The past year came with four blazes in areas of vegetation that affected 70 square metres — compared to approximately 30 hectares incinerated in 2017 as a result of the three wildfires in Cala Saona.

New equipment
Another important piece of news this last year was the Balearic port authority's hand-off of a six-person, water pump-equipped light lorry with capacity for 1,800L, is designed both for fighting fires and lifesaving and rescue operations. At the moment the brigade's mobile corps is composed of two rapid response vehicles (both pickups), a heavy lorry for rural operations and a light lorry for urban ones.

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