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Formentera asks for help from Balearic gov’t and vacation rental property owners in tackling rise in Covid cases

In a letter sent today by Consell de Formentera president Alejandra Ferrer to Balearic first minister Francina Armengol, the island’s top-ranking official said that dedicated staff would be essential to maintaining round-the-clock labour and public health inspections, insisting such “pre-pandemic” tasks remain crucial today. She also asked for help from the Balearic bureau of inspections and emergencies in tracking compliance with Covid-19 measures.

President Ferrer’s letter describes a situation of ever growing complexity in which “existing municipal regulations and ordinances have been made to accommodate a battery of regulations which are focussed specifically on stemming spread of Covid-19. Meanwhile, enforcement is undermined by staffing shortages amid ever greater numbers of people on the island. The absence of controls to effectively enforce rules about when businesses can and can’t open has given way to exceedingly serious cases of overcrowding, especially at beaches and in urban areas. Since no one is there to enforce business closures, the problem is sent further down the pike to the homes, hotels and apartments where people continue to flout Covid restrictions.

Under increased collaboration with the island’s tourism planning department, local law enforcement to will be able to access relevant data about owners of vacation rental properties. If a person renting a home throws an illegal party, police can ask the homeowners for the renter’s contact information, raising the possbility the person receives an associated fine in the future. Homeowners who choose not to supply the information will themselves face the fine. “If owners of vacation rental properties do their part to curb increasingly frequent house parties, we can ensure compliance with public health regulations and put a stop to surging cases”, said President Ferrer.

Drinking in the street
Pointing to increasingly frequent streetside revellers and crowds at beaches, Ferrer asked the Balearic government for a dedicated Covid detail on the island. Agents could go places where overcrowding is frequent, Ferrer offered, and perform outreach before the situation becomes problematic. “We’re also extremely concerned about the return of ‘party boats’ and watercraft peddling alcohol at sea and on beaches”, added the president.

Ferrer closed by highlighting recent expansions and reinforcements to the island’s Civil Guard service including new safety and traffic units. Both will coordinate with Formentera Local Police, she said, insisting exceptional circumstances meant additional support would be crucial.

30 July 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Consell holds July plenary

foto 2021 ple juliolAt today’s July plenary assembly of local government, participants unanimously granted initial approval to proposed regulations of use at the Formentera skate park. Youth department chief Vanessa Parellada indicated admission at the park would be free and that park users would be subject to certain rules, such as, for children under 12, that an adult accompany them while at the skate park. The only equipment approved for use at the skate park are skateboards, scooters, roller-skates, rollerblades and BMX bikes, and park users must wear approved helmets, elbow- and knee-pads and other protective gear. Park users are also required to come in appropriate footwear, and can’t play ball games like football, bring food or bottles made of glass or containing beverages other than water or sports drinks, smoke, litter or sit on the rim of the bowl structure, on benches around the park’s circumference or inside it.

Councillor Parellada said that next week a large poster would feature an easy to follow summary and graphic illustration of the main rules. Rules displayed on posters since the park opened were shaped with outside input, she said, highlighting conversations with the future park’s users about what their particular needs and wishes were. “The next poster will be bigger and more visual”, she concluded.

Patchy coverage
Gent per Formentera and PSOE cabinet members united with opposition councillors to pass a proposal regarding recurring failures in mobile phone coverage on the island. Local legislators urged the responsible government agencies to take necessary steps within their respective powers to urgently address inadequate network signal on Formentera.

Councillor Parellada, who also heads the island’s department of new technologies, held that residents of Formentera face a “twice-compounded isolation in their personal, family and professional lives” and that islanders remain “on unequal footing in terms of opportunities and competitiveness” compared to people in other Spanish territories. The pandemic has thrown that disadvantage into relief, said Parellada, stressing that “Formentera residents are in the unique position of requiring communications and new technologies for services which people in other territories can access without such technology”. The councillor insisted that, with plenary support, her department would be in a “much better position to demand quality service for all of Formentera”.

Reusing sludge from waste water treatment plant
Assembly members once again came together to push the Balearic environment ministry to work with Formentera’s government on a plan for how to use sludge from the waste water treatment plant in a way that respects municipal regulations on non-hazardous waste.

Environment chief Antonio J. Sanz highlighted La Mola residents’ repeated complaints about flies and a foul smell emanating from WWTP sludge which was applied in the area. She insisted no notice was given of plans to use the sludge on the island.

“Sludge is a fine example of something that can be repurposed to support agriculture and the circular economy”, said Sanz, “but it mustn’t be a nuisance or generate problems for neighbours and public health".

Other proposals
Plenary participants again struck unity on three proposals tabled by representatives of Sa Unió:

First, to improve and condition the surface of Sa Senieta car park; review horizontal and vertical road signage, and optimise surveillance in response to capacity issues.

Second, to ask the Balearic Civil Law Advisory Council (CLAC), and by extension the CLAC of Eivissa-Formentera, to study the impact on Balearic civil law, specifically provisions applicable to Eivissa and Formentera, of legislation adopted on 9 July to prevent and combat tax fraud. The Spanish law, a transposition of Council Directive (EU) 2016/1164, lays down a series of rules, including one to prevent and combat tax avoidance practices which directly affect the functioning of the internal market, another concerning amendments to tax rules and a third on gambling. The report will be used to determine whether or not such legislation is constitutional and, if so, press the Balearic government or parliament to take steps to denounce it as such. Assembly members also agreed such communication with the Balearic authorities should include condemnation of the legislation on the grounds it impinges on the independence of local government.
And finally, at the behest of the opposition, assembly members called for changes to enhance the effectiveness of the current ordinance on illegal street-side vending by increasing fines and making other financial modifications.

Report from Ana Juan
Ana Juan took the assembly floor today to detail efforts within the housing, seniors, commerce and entrepreneurship departments: “Recent months have seen renewed focus on responding to the public health emergency at hand and reducing the economic toll of the pandemic on the most vulnerable, including self-employed people and business owners”.

Meanwhile, work within the entrepreneurship office has centred on employment and training for the jobless, and the housing office has orchestrated the first-ever rollout of renters’ assistance (a second round of handouts has already secured plenary backing). On trade, the councillor highlighted collaborative campaigns this year with businesses, as well as tax breaks. On efforts within the seniors department, Juan pointed to improvement and maintenance work carried out during closures, and to new defibrillators to make seniors’ clubs heart-safe.

30 July 2021
Communications Department
Council of Formentera

Fire brigade and response crews get help clearing roads after storm

foto 2021 pluges AFirefighters, cleaning services and the roads brigade of local government continue their second day of work today to remove water and clean roads affected by a heavy storm which battered the island.

In Es Pujols, a particularly hard-hit neighbourhood, crews used pressure washers and shovels to clear mud and debris that had been loosened by torrential rain. Work is also being carried out on PM-820 (the island’s main arterial), in car parks in Es Pujols and at Ses Illetes and on smaller roads across Formentera.

Exceptional situation
According to the national meteorological agency, 24-hour rainfall yesterday marked an all-time record on the island since records have been kept. The exceptional situation saw drainage systems overflow along Avinguda Miramar and Carrer Punta Prima. Municipal crews will perform checks to ensure the infrastructure remains functional and will study how to minimise the chances that the situation is repeated.

The Formentera Department of Environment will also extend measures to stem proliferation of mosquitoes in areas of stagnant fresh water.

27 July 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

Formentera celebrates local holiday at Far de la Mola

foto 2021 premis sant jaume DLast night at 8.00pm, the courtyard of La Mola lighthouse became the backdrop for an awards gala honouring local excellence as part of annual “Diada de Formentera” celebrations. Held on the feast day of the island’s patron saint, Sant Jaume (St James), the evening came with the announcement of winners of Formentera’s gold medal and the Sant Jaume Prize, as well as the award for the island’s honorary “adoptive daughter”.

“Filla adoptiva”
Formentera named Remedios Castillo Cañas (Granada, 1940 - Formentera, 2021) the island’s filla adoptiva for her work in pottery and thirty-plus years as an impassioned local exponent of the craft. Castillo helped shape the imagination and creativity of countless islanders, and was driven by a commitment to coexistence, inclusiveness and equality.

The year’s Sant Jaume Prizes went to:
Three Wise Men of Formentera
For their impulse and commitment to organising the Three Kings’ cavalcade and the Christmas “Mitjana Festa”, as well as other charitable activities and cultural and popular festivals as expressions of island identity and popular culture.

Fonda Pepe
In the sixty-plus years since opening, Fonda Pepe has been a local icon and the undisputed fulcrum of Formentera’s unflagging multiculturalism. It remains a key source of identity and uniqueness today.

Teixits J. Marí Serra
Since the mid-20th century, when Teixits J. Marí Serra opened as a family business trading in fabrics and textiles, they have become one of Formentera’s flagship establishments.

The Gold Medal of Formentera was given to the island’s Collective of Information Professionals. By delivering news and insight about local goings-on, the honourees guarantee one of the most basic human rights, the right to information – an indisputable pillar of the freest and most independent thinking. The poignance of the award is underscored by the pandemic-era efforts of news outlet staff on the island.

Speaking for the entire local cabinet, President Ferrer applauded award winners for “weaving this fabric that protects us and which at the same time we must safeguard in order to defend our uniqueness and identity”.

Also on hand at the gathering were the president of the Balearic Parliament, Vicenç Thomàs; regional deputy first minister Juan Pedro Yllanes; regional minister Josep Marí Ribas and regional MP Sílvia Tur, not to mention local decision-makers and other authorities.

The event closed with performances from vocalist Julia Benevelli and pianist Sergi Navarro of “Mad World”, “Breathe”, “When I was your man” and “Hallelujah”. The gala was broadcast on the Consell de Formentera YouTube channel and TEF. Watch it here.

Dia de Sant Jaume
On 25 July, the feast of Sant Jaume (St James), a traditional mass will be held in the Sant Francesc church from 8.00pm. An hour later, revellers can enjoy a demonstration of folk dance in the town’s Plaça de la Constitució.

At 10.00pm, the Clara Peya quintet will give an extra special concert in the courtyard of Sa Senieta. Peya is both a pianist and composer, and is considered one of the most original and unique creators on the national music scene in recent times. Her frenetic life moves between music, theatre and activism. Tickets for the limited-seating concert are sold out.

25 July 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

In 24 hours, police write 12 citations for itinerant vending

The Formentera Department of Interior reports that island law enforcement launched a special operation yesterday in a bid to tackle illegal vending on several beaches near Ses Salines Nature Reserve. With help from four plain-clothes and three uniformed officers, the drone-assisted effort resulted in 12 citations for the illicit sale of fruit, drinks and clothing.

The team sought to penetrate an organisational scheme wherein vendors alert one another and hide when patrolling officers are spotted entering the reserve.

Forty-one citations have been written this summer for unlawful itinerant vending in Ses Salines, Migjorn and Cala Saona. Besides constituting a source of unfair competition for hometown businesses, street vendors aren’t submitted to health and safety controls — an added risk factor particularly amid rising cases of Covid-19.

21 July 2021
Communications Department
Consell de Formentera

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