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Formentera calls on Madrid to pick up tab for public servants' extra pay

Ple gener reduxMembers of the Formentera Council plenary assembly gathered today, a Friday, for the administration's first plenary session of 2018. At the centre of debate was a proposed bonus to level the playing field for public servants living in the islands.

The first such initiative, proposed by the People's Party (PP), called on the Council to create a dedicated fund for the bonuses using its own resources. The measure failed after it was rejected by majority party Gent per Formentera (GxF). The PSOE brought their own version of a similar proposal, which was scrapped as well.

Vanessa Parellada, secretary of social welfare, youth services and human resources affirmed both proposals were voted down because they would have put the Council on the hook for the financing the extra pay. “The isolation of Formentera from mainland Spain” [commonly referred to as the island's “triple insularity”] “affects the entire island”. “Any measure which improves the lot of one segment of the population by worsening another's” —referring to those who would pay for the fund— “would be illogical”. She said it would be like “forcing Formentera to foot the bill for the downsides of working on Formentera”.

GxF presented a measure supporting the so-called “insular bonus” on the condition the central government in Madrid supplied the funds to make it a reality. Parellada drew a parallel with residents' discounts on ferry tickets, reduced rubbish transport costs and all the other compensation that exists to remedy Formentera's insularity. “Victims of this insularity mustn't be obliged to also foot the bill”, she argued. The measure passed thanks to backing from GxF, though members of the other parties, PP, PSOE and Compromís, abstained.

Other measures
One measure that got cross-party support was a GxF proposal to join a pact with a Mallorca-based transport consortium for an integrated system of tariffs. Likewise, the assembly was united in giving the go-ahead to an expansion of low-voltage power lines serving Recó de la Llenya, sa Miranda and Can Simonet. “Yes” votes from GxF party members guaranteed the success of a move to block the findings of an impact study, piloted by a group called Plaça de Sant Ferran, of a plot in Sant Ferran. Thanks to backing from GxF and PP, and despite abstaining votes from PSOE and Compromís, definitive approval came for a detailed study of work on avinguda Joan Castelló Guasch. A proposal to standardise and regulate business hours and live entertainment was backed by GxF and Compromís members of the plenary, while other party representatives abstained. The fate of a PP proposal concerning standardising tourist holiday rentals at multi-family homes in urban areas was sealed by “no” votes from GxF and PSOE party members. Meanwhile unanimous backing was secured by a measure from socialists in the assembly to create signage at all pedestrian crossings in school zones across Sant Francesc.

Progress report
Councillor Susana Labrador, who took the floor to give a report on action in her departments, started by reminding plenary members that her function is to “promote and lead projects related to culture, heritage and education on the island within the standards of the administration's team of senior councillors”.

Labrador gave an overview of her offices' work in 2017. She focused on four efforts in particular:

Disinterment at the Sant Ferran cemetery last November, aimed at locating the remains of five individuals gunned down by pro-Franco forces during the Spanish Civil War. The victims were murdered on March 1, 1937 behind the cemetery walls.

The efforts were headed up by Fòrum per la Memòria d'Eivissa i Formentera and paid for by the Govern and Formentera Council.

Start of la Mola lighthouse remodel, an effort linked to a museographic project in the same space. Crews will equip the monument with an interpretive centre about local lighthouses, a museographic collection focussed on the island's maritime heritage and a multipurpose room for cultural events.

Building permit for Sant Ferran's primary and nursery schools. Thanks to painstaking efforts of the local departments of patrimony and land, the administration's flagship project appears closer than ever. Additional progress is due to the hard work of the Council's legal experts and Ibisec advisors, which made next month's tweaking of municipal regulations possible.

Lastly, the recently-opened reading space in Sant Ferran. Part of an effort to revitalise culture and leisure activities in town, the library outlet has three separate spaces: a section for adults, a kids' area and a computer lab with Internet access.

Formentera Council gives final OK to 2018 budgets

Foto ple redux 2The Formentera Council's 2018 budgets received final approval on the back of the inadmission of grievances from UGT and the local chapter of the People's Party, or PP. The two groups' complaints had been made in reference to spending by the Formentera Council in 2018.

Rejection of the grievances is based on the ground that, formulated as they were, they could not be included in any of the established categories. According to tax secretary Bartomeu Escandell, “Two appeals were made following the budget's approval in November. Nevertheless, review of the appeals by the Council's legal department revealed that neither claim fit with the existing categories of accepted grievances, and they were rejected”. Escandell expressed his excitement that the nearly €27-million budget was moving forward.

With the budget's final text issued to the region's official gazette, or BOIB, it is hoped it will be approved in full by the end of the week.

Formentera Council extends congratulations to Neus Mateu

The president of the Formentera Council, Jaume Ferrer, wishes to congratulate Neus Mateu for her recent appointment as the central government's director for the Pityuses. Mateu's assignment fills a void that was left by Roger Sales in January 2017.

By coincidence, Mateu's arrival has overlapped with the winter holidays of the CiF chairman, making him unable to attend a ceremony for the appointment.

Nevertheless, the addition of Mateu is being seen as a boost to efforts of the Council and the administration in Madrid. Take, for example, an initiative to heighten security, agreed at the most recent meeting of a security commission (junta de seguretat) on the island in December.

On island's behalf, Council offers parting gift to Deportivo Alavés

Foto Placa redux iiToday at noon Formentera Council president Jaume Ferrer presented the head of the Alavés football club with a token of appreciation for the team's visit to Formentera for a Copa del Rey match which pitted SD Formentera against Deportivo Alavés. A plaque mounted on marès limestone reads “From Formentera to Deportivo Alavés. Formentera Council. January 3, 2018”. The upper portion contains a representation of the island of Formentera. It is set against a background of metallic posidonia seagrass, highlighting the crucial ecological role played by the world-heritage plant. Local artist Andrés Rodríguez was called on to create the piece, which will adorn the team's collection.

An SD Formentera representative and Vicent Bufí, chairman of a committee of the Balearic football federation, also presented the Alavés club with gifts. Lunch was held afterwards at Bellavista with the management of both teams, the CiF president and sports secretary Jordi Vidal.

In plenary, assembly votes to create Formentera Council 'jobs catalogue'

Foto ple desembre 2017The Formentera Council convened today its December plenary session, where support came for a proposed ordinance on terraces and other arrangements that occupy public spaces. The administration's land, tourism and trade secretary Alejandra Ferrer says the measure will include changes such as new articles to remove procedural obstacles and facilitate patrols.

Aiming to strike a balance between the use restaurants, hotels and other businesses make of public spaces in pursuing their professional activity, and the broader public interest, the rule change seeks to ensure a minimum level of disturbance whenever businesses occupy the public thoroughfare, considering that “public interests should always trump private ones” as its gold standard. Of particular note is a provision holding that any establishment wishing to set up a terrace must also open at least May 15 to October 15

One particular provision, that establishments with terraces must also open at least May 15 to October 15, is part of a bid to encourage shopping in the off-season and offer support to businesses that are open longer. The measure was backed by senior councillors and members of the PSOE and saw the abstention of the PP and Compromís.

The green light was given to a proposed jobs catalogue (or Catàleg de Llocs de Treball) for the Formentera Council. Vanessa Parellada, the administration's head of human resources, pledged ongoing work and talks with public servants' legal reps would lead to a new jobs estimate equipped with administrative guidelines on employment. The measure got backing from all the parties except the PP, whose members abstained.

Rule on vehicle ingress to Formentera
Plenary members were united in their support of an emergency measure to regulate the vehicles that enter Formentera. As part of the measure, the Council will urge the regional government in Palma to urgently create a legal mechanism to limit the cars arriving on the island.

Speaking after the plenary session, CiF president Jaume Ferrer said that, as with the proposed relocation of Formentera passengers' Eivissa ferry landing, the administration would back whatever course of action is decided by the island's coalition of community leaders, the Consell d'Entitats.

Mobility secretary Rafael González reminded his associates that the journey towards regulating vehicle entry to the island began two years ago, and called to mind a meeting of the advisory body back in September 2014, when it voted to enlist the Formentera Council in brokering a fix. As a result, a plenary agreement was reached and the issue was included among 14 others proposed at the start of the legislative session. González assured that since then the administration has been working with the regional government to author a proposal.

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