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In monthly session, plenary assembly appeals to port authority to give local boaters mooring space in harbour

Foto votacio ple octubre 2017When the plenary assembly of the Formentera Council gathered for the group's October session, councillors voted in unison to back the government team's plan to press the Balearic port authority (APB) to create a moorage area in la Savina's port for the island's boat owners.

President's office secretary Bartomeu Escandell said that though the port is a commercial hub and home of two marinas, it lacks a zone for the Formentera's owners of pleasure boats. He highlighted a recently announced APB supervisory board decision to not renew one of the two la Savina marina leases when it expires in 2018, and raised the prospect of a public space that could be used by the island's boat owners.

In making their request, the officials have referred to some of the conclusions that emanated from gatherings organised by the island's Consell d'Entitats at the end of 2014 entitled “Looking toward the future of la Savina,” namely, that strategies moving foward should be underpinned not by growth and expansion but optimisation of existing resources. The overhaul could also affect regulated moorage at estany des Peix, a place which, absent space in la Savina's port to do so, local residents have gradually filled with small recreational watercraft. Escandell underscored what he called a “warm relationship” between the Formentera Island Council and Balearic Islands port authority, citing the recent planning and execution of upgrades at the port as well as the revival —both economic and social— afoot in la Savina's port and town.

Budget increase
Members of the plenary also gave the green-light to a proposal from senior councillors on retooling the administration's budget. According to Escandell, who also serves as tax office councillor, €9,746,000 of liquidity, transferred from the treasury, would keep the administration from entering the red despite certain unavoidable expenditures this tax year. With “yes” votes from the senior cabinet and the abstention of the opposition, the measure was approved.

The budget increase is intended to finance the payment of debts of the recently disbanded Consorci Formentera Desenvolupament (€1.7m), free up credit to purchase the Sa Senieta plot (€2.5m, €1m of which will be funded by the sustainable tourism tax), upgrades of carrers Guillem de Montgrí and València in Sant Ferran (€1.4m), patrimony payments for the permit granted, in 2005, for construction of Ca Ses Castellones (€1.55m). Escandell explained the figure would also include credit to cover ordinary operation costs.

Sa Senieta purchase
Senior councillors approved a measure despite the abstention of the other parties to back a proposal to acquire Sa Senieta, a designated site in Formentera's cultural heritage catalogue. The councillor explained the Council's intent to buy Sa Senieta for €2.5 million, one million of which would come from the sustainable tourism fund. Now begins the task of articulating the specific use that the building will be given, though this must be cultural or patrimonial. The councillor justified the Sa Senieta buy referring to “the immense historical value of the home, its singularity and strategic location inside Sant Francesc,” adding the move is a continuation of the policy of reclaiming heritage sites.

Regulatory retooling
The assembled members of the plenary also gave the go-ahead for preliminary approval for an ordinance regulating  occupation of the public thoroughfare. According to land, tourism and trade secretary Alejandra Ferrer, the adjustment seeks a balance between how businesses like restaurants and hotels can use public spaces to conduct business, and the broader public interest, by striving for minimal interference between businesses' use of public land and that of the people, who, she noted, would always trump private interests. Among the proposed tweaks, aimed at “streamlining and simplifying,” Ferrer singled out a requirement that businesses with terraces remain open between 15 May and 15 October, a way to put longer-haul operations over fleeting ventures. The measure won the support of the assembly's senior councillors and members of the Popular Party, and PSOE and Compromís affiliates abstained in the vote.

Session attendees also voted to take a first step towards defining limits on hours that businesses are allowed to play music. Alejandra Ferrer called it “a means to promote silence and good-neighbour relations in the face of proliferating nightlife establishments in assorted urban areas”. Such measures, she said, balance quality of life and the constitutional rights of people in residential areas with nightlife businesses catering to residents and tourists”.

Under the new rules, nightlife outposts in residential areas of Sant Francesc, Sant Ferran and el Pilar de la Mola will be forced to curtail their nighttime hours: those previously licensed to operate until six am will be required to close at four am, while those heretofore held to a four-am closing time must close by three am. Article 20 of the ordinance enables the Council to periodically hasten closing times if relevant justification and technical reports have been provided”. The senior cabinet was joined by the councillors of Compromís in supporting the measure, the remaining members of the assembly abstained.

Finally, the assembly voted unanimously to pass a PP proposal for speed bumps near Mestre Lluís Andreu primary school and a Compromís measure for transparency of web-based propositions.

Departmental report
As Formentera's secretary of land, tourism and trade, Alejandra Ferrer, appeared before the assembly, she described the effort to make Formentera sustainable as being propped up by three basic pillars: first, social and cultural, second, economic, and third, environmental.

Ferrer gave an overview of work, including controls, inspections, prosecution and resolutions, assigned to an inspection service created last year. As for occupancy of public thoroughfares, 22 citations were issued this year, with fines totalling €7,800. Illegal operations, meanwhile, were behind 21 violations in which related fines reached €79,113.

In 2017, checks in tourism led to 36 citations whose fines amounted to €108,015, while land use violations precipitated €430,656 in fines. Another 20 citations were issued that carried fines of €551,000.

Councillor Ferrer also highlighted the work of the trade office, for instance, consolidation efforts this winter as well as ongoing promotion of Eivissa and Formentera's small and medium-sized business association (PIMEF), the Chamber of Commerce and island craftworkers.

As well Ferrer spoke about regulating tourism and the work of the land office, including finalising subsidiary regulations, or normes subsidiaries, in Catalan, which allowed the Council to issue building permits for Sant Ferran's new primary and nursery schools. She also touched on the supreme court ruling concerning the 'Punta Prima case,' which was favourable to the administration, and concurred that the subsidiary regulations manoeuvre had been conducted correctly, respectful of the environment and the general public good.

On housing, Councillor Ferrer underscored collaboration with the Govern to ensure detailed information is available about individuals seeking housing on the island. She also held up measures brought before the assembly that day, like the ordinance retooling.

Finally, Ferrer spoke about a kind of tourism promotion that strives for social and environmental responsibility, and pointed to the recent Save Posidonia Project Festival, plus campaigns like Discover Formentera in May and Discover Formentera in October.

Formentera presents Athletic Club with gift

Foto de grup sd for athletic clubToday at noon Formentera Council president Jaume Ferrer offered a token of thanks to Athletic Club chief Josu Urrutia for the team's visit to the island. The team will go up against Formentera's football squad, SD Formentera, this afternoon as part of the King's Cup. The tin piece bears iconic local sites like a lighthouse, church, fig tree, cactus and Es Vedrà as seen from Formentera, along with an engraving on a wooden base that reads “From the island of Formentera to Athletic Club. Formentera Council. October 25, 2017”. Local craftworker Sandra Tarrago was commissioned to make the piece, which will take its place today among other items in the Basque club's collection.

The heads of SD Formentera and the Balearic Islands' federation of football teams, Xicu Ferrer and Vicent Bufí, also presented Urrutia with a commemorative plaque for his club. Later, both teams' management, Jaume Ferrer and CiF sports secretary Jordi Vidal sat down for a meal at Restaurant Es Caló.

Formentera firefighters' 2017 tally of extinguished blazes: 40

feines bomber incendi cala saona juliolOn the heels of the announcement, October 15, that the Balearic Islands had put their season of high fire risk behind them, the Formentera Council's firefighting brigade released wildfire figures for this year. From January 1 to October 15, crews tackled a total of 40 fires, two less than the same period in 2016.

“This season's star operations,” reported president's office secretary and head of interior Bartomeu Escandell, “were without a doubt the three forest fires that swept across 29.5 hectares (h) in Cala Saona between 20 May and 18 July”.

Escandell took the opportunity to congratulate the brigade and other volunteers on their hard work and effectiveness on the job. “This was a particularly heart-wrenching year,” said the secretary, pointing to the loss of 29.5h of forested area, compared to 1.8h damaged by fire in 2016. He also highlighted crews' efforts on other occasions: two house fires and two traffic accidents.

Brigade enlisted in 158 operations
In all, Formentera's firefighters were called on 158 times in 2017, forty-two more than the same period in 2016, when the service was activated 116 times. Escandell linked the upsurge to two causes: the brigade's expansion and consolidation (local ranks swelled from five in 2015 [three salaried, two part-time] to six in 2016 to seven in 2017) and the storms that pounded the island last winter.

In fact, the greatest uptick was recorded in efforts which required the brigade's technical expertise: 21 in 2016 against 60 this year. Such operations followed damages caused by things like wind- or rainstorms or spills on public roads. The service was also tapped for 17 rescues, 18 false alarms and 23 preventive operations.

Moreover, Secretary Escandell stressed the importance of ongoing training. This year, firefighters took part in refresher courses and training in: extraction with lightweight tools following traffic accidents; emergency management and control; hazardous materials; managing updated tactical situations; accreditation to use semi-automated external defibrillators; indoor fires and ventilation including multi-pronged approaches.

Council clinches agreement to build local residence

Residenciaformentera web 0367The president of the Formentera Council and the regional secretary of social services and cooperation signed an agreement today paving the way for construction of a local residence for care-dependent individuals. Joining Jaume Ferrer and Fina Santiago at the event was Govern balear president Francina Armengol.

The residence, which will be part of the Govern's public care network, is expected to cost 1.2M€. The price tag will be split between the Govern (70%) and Formentera Council (30%). The two administrations will also share the facility's operating costs. The Palma government's per-day contribution for care for dependent individuals varies between €63 and €68, according to their degree of dependency.

The new residence, designed to accommodate 18, will have 14 single and two double rooms. Plans call for a connecting hallway allowing the neighbouring dependent care centre, or Centre de Dia, and the residence to share resources. President Ferrer hailed the agreement as an important step towards “a facility that will add a level of dignity to the lives of Formentera residents, particularly those in situations of care-dependency”. In closing, Formentera's president saluted the hard work of social welfare secretary Vanessa Parellada and her opposite number in Palma that made construction of the residence possible.

Transfer of authority on admissions to live-in care
President Ferrer also took part in today's gathering of the so-called “Mixed Transfer Commission,” in which participants agreed to transfer admissions authority at residences and care centres for senior citizens, care-dependent individuals and facilities that promote personal autonomy to the island councils of Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca. The change will take effect in early 2018.

Formentera wants part of island's port for public use

Port 1 foto ja arribasFormentera Council president Jaume Ferrer will ask the Balearic port authority (APB) to designate part of la Savina's port for public use, namely by local nautical groups. “We believe part of the Formentera port should be for individuals whose livelihoods are tied to the sea,” said Ferrer, calling it a step towards “reclaiming traditional uses of the port and revitalising la Savina”.

The Council's request followed an announcement from the APB that the agency would not extend the lease held by the la Savina marina, Formentera Mar. As Ferrer put it, “the change from leisure port to nautical club could broaden the port's reach on the island and help it transition into a social, cultural, sport and recreational centre for residents”.

Moreover, President Ferrer highlighted the bid to regulate use of estany des Peix, which he expects the current addition of moorage spots in la Savina will make easier.

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