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Occupants of Sant Ferran's 14 low-cost housing units get keys

Entrega claus hpoFormentera Council chairman Jaume Ferrer was joined today by the Balearic Islands' president and land, energy and mobility secretary, Francina Armengol and Marc Pons, plus the head of land and tourism on Formentera, Alejandra Ferrer, in turning over the keys to 14 officially-protected housing units in Sant Ferran.

Ferrer, who was “thrilled to be taking part in the event,” proclaimed: “This is a proud moment for all of us, particularly because it will offset part of the burden of Formentera's housing crunch”. Over and above planned improvements in the centre of Sant Ferran, officials say they will continue efforts to position the town as a social hub. According to Ferrer, the new homes' status as “social housing”—a longstanding request of the administration—means turnover can remain high, making it easier to adapt to changing needs within the community.

A satisfied President Armengol noted that left-wing administrations (first Antich's then her own) were behind both the inception and completion of the project. “It goes to show,” she said, “that we on the left we are aware that public housing is crucial”.

A total of 12 keys were turned over today. One of the homes, which is reserved for applicants with special needs, has yet to be assigned. Another is in the midst of processing.

All selected occupants are given rent-controlled leases which never exceed 30% of their income. Monthly payments start at €197 and are capped at €291 (service charges are extra). The three-year leases are renewable providing tenants can demonstrate they continue to meet criteria.

Built on a plot donated by the Formentera Council, the homes incorporate the Balearic Islands' pioneering environmental standards, which means they were eligible for EU funding as part of Life+2012. The €1,373,361 project is called Life Reusing Posidonia, and it received €754,012 in additional assistance from the Life programme.

The project, first drafted between 2010 and 2011, didn't go into construction until May 2014. The building was completed in March 2017 and is the first A-class multi-family building in the Balearics.

Based on building practices and consumption patterns, the Govern estimates that, in their useful life, the new units will equate to energy savings of 75% and a 60% drop in water consumption.

Also on hand for the ceremony were the Council's vice-chairman, Bartomeu Escandell, plus Daisee Aguilera and Vanessa Parellada, the administration's secretaries of environment and social welfare.

Formentera Council pushes back after PP calls to cut 9 officers from local force

Foto policia localThe Formentera Council has submitted comments in hopes of stalling the execution of an order—sentència número 87—issued by the Balearic high court of justice on February 28, 2017. In its ruling, the judicial authority decided to annul the appointment of nine members of Formentera's local police force even though they had passed the competitive exams called by the Council in 2014 to find permanent staff. According to president's office secretary Bartomeu Escandell, “the Spanish government has made this request despite the fact it gravely imperils our island's police force, which today stands at 13”.

The Popular Party (PP) has argued that the string of new hires in 2014 fell foul of the so-called “law on rationalisation” asking administrations to save in times of hardship. Escandell says that, today, three years after announcing the selection process and given Formentera's need for police manpower, to request execution of the high court's ruling would “be at odds with our islanders' best interests and jeopardise our security”. Escandell also pointed out: “At the same time they have asked us to cut job positions on Formentera, the national government has announced plans to fill 5,197 new positions across police and civil guard forces.”

Madrid's delegation on the island appealed a CiF government commission's green-lighting, August 22, 2014, of plans to fill nine positions on Formentera's local police force. Administrative court number one of Palma dismissed that appeal on September 1, 2016, but the PP-led administration responded by filing another appeal. On February 28, the administrative chamber of the Balearic Islands superior court of justice issued sentència número 87, invalidating the Council's initial call for applicants. It is the Formentera Council's hope that the ruling not be carried out.

Local health workers get Formentera's gold medal for 2017

foto diada formentera 0179At 8.30pm this evening, the Formentera Council held its official Diada de Formentera celebration. The gala honoured individuals or groups determined by unanimous vote in CiF plenary to be worthy of distinction.

2017's gold medal (la Medalla d'Or) went to Formentera's community of professional health workers. The award salutes the work of individuals employed in a diverse array of positions like support, treatment, care and wellbeing, not least for their work and dedication as executors of the universal right to health.

Sant Jaume awards
Three Sant Jaume awards (premis) were also handed out. Pilar Castelló Ramon (Sant Joan de Labritja, 1953), for one, was praised for her work in the public sector. After holding the distinction as the first career civil servant in Formentera's local administration, Castelló worked for 25 years as a teacher, speech therapist and director Mestre Lluis Andreu primary school prior to retirement.

The accolade was also given to Club Dojo Formentera in recognition for their efforts introducing martial arts on the island. After starting with judo in 1982, the dojo grew to include aikido, jujitsu, karate and kendo, keeping their focus fixed on values like personal improvement, camaraderie and hard work.

La Fonda Rafalet, a family-run inn with more than sixty years of uninterrupted service, came away with the evening's third Sant Jaume prize, a celebration of the Rafalet crew's ability, generation after generation, to adapt to the changing needs of an evolving brand of tourism.

Adoptive son
This year's adoptive son honour was given to Manu San Félix (Madrid, 1964). In addition to his research and dissemination work on underwater environments, and a career that includes reporting and professional photography, San Félix, a biologist, was commended for his efforts to raise awareness about protecting posidonia meadows.

Official address
A closing address by the chairman of the Council highlighted the fortuitousness of coinciding with the administration's ten-year anniversary this year.

On that note, Jaume Ferrer noted the event shared a birthday with another local institution, the Formentera hospital. To the CiF chair, “this is really a case where we can talk about a before and after in terms of variety and quality in locally available healthcare services”. Urging audience members to look back at past Medalla d'Or honourees, Ferrer said this year's awards were a chance to “recognise all the people who have toiled to strengthen what has often been an under-resourced service” and “everyone who has worked, and who continues to work, to improve medical care on our island”.

After thanking each of the evening's honourees, Ferrer took the chance to highlight another banner event this year: 2017 is the year of sustainable tourism. The CiF chair stressed the need to preserve Formentera's undersea environment, calling it “the most profitable investment we can make”.

Miquel Tur and Júlia Benevelli's musical duo Sweet Lure closed the evening gala. This year, the official Diada de Formentera graphics were upgraded to mark the Formentera Council's tenth anniversary.

Today marks end of Formentera's development consortium

Foto reunio cfdAt noon today, Friday, July 21, the executive board of Formentera's development consortium (CFd) convened for the last time in the assembly hall of the Formentera Council. Administration chair Jaume Ferrer and chief secretary to the chairman, Bartomeu Escandell, emerged afterward to give statements to the press.

Jaume Ferrer explained that the assembled group of CiF members, Govern office holders and representatives of the Eivissa Council had gathered to disband the CFd definitively. As he pointed out, that end game had been achieved by the meeting's closing.

The Formentera Council will now assume control of the CFd's management and subrogate any of the group's assets and obligations. The Council has got until December 31, 2019 to invest the €4 million in the CFd's reserves. That spending is to involve heritage acquisitions, environment and sport infrastructure and urban area upgrades.

The defunct group leaves behind a number of outstanding debts. Payment of one, valued at €5.1m, will become responsibility of the Govern balear. A second debt, of €1.9m, will be split between the Balearic administration (70%) and the Formentera Council (30%).

Councillor Escandell called the CFd's dissolution “part of an effort to streamline local government”.

Core CFd activities
Created in 2001 to bring under one roof funding from both the Govern balear and the Eivissa and Formentera administrations, the development group sought to use investment to reduce Formentera's infrastructural deficit.

As Chairman Ferrer recalled, the group focussed on purchasing land—including the plots now occupied by the Formentera hospital, the Ses Bardetes children's park, the barracks of the Guardia Civil and the plaça de la Constitució expansion in Sant Francesc— as well as street upgrades in Sant Ferran (carrer Major), Es Pujols (carrer Xaloc), la Savina (carrer Ponent) and the Porto-Salè neighbourhood.

The first local body to subsidise repairs of dry-stone walls and other homegrown trademarks, the CFd also bankrolled initiatives to bury overhead utility lines. The Council has already reserved part of its 2017 budget allocations for subsidies of heritage-related improvements.

Officials visit site of cala Saona's third wildfire this summer

Investigacio incendisFormentera Council chief Jaume Ferrer and the Govern balear's secretary for environment, Vicenç Vidal, have paid a morning visit to the command centre of yesterday's cala Saona wildfire.

The blaze, which by this morning had burned across 5.16 hectares, took hold yesterday at roughly 3.00pm. Within five hours the fire brigade had stabilised the flames and by 11.30pm they declared the wildfire controlled. Officials expect to see the fire fully extinguished in the hours or days to come.

Jaume Ferrer praised emergency crews, forest service agents, Formentera firefighters and civil protection, Guardia Civil and local Formentera police forces for their swift response. He voiced his concerns about the fact that yesterday's blaze is “already the third wildfire to hit this part of cala Saona in two months”.

The first one struck May 20 and left 14 hectares of scorched earth in its wake. The second, on July 5, burned through 10.2 hectares. The environment secretary reported that of the 70 hectares of land in Illes Balears to be stung by wildfire this summer, a full 30 were on Formentera.

Seprona and Guardia Civil agents visited the suspected site of the fire's onset to investigate the cause. Thirty-one workers will continue working on the scene today to extinguish the flames.

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