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Visit to the Can Blai dig site

canblaiEarlier today, councillor of culture and patrimony of the Formentera Council, Susana Labrador, visited the Can Blai site in es Cap de Barbaria to witness progress being made on the archaeological dig there from 1 through 30 July. Co-directed by Ricardo González, professor of Ancient History and Archaeology at Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis and Dr Jordi Fernández, the work falls under the umbrella archaeological project Can Blai: un fortín bajo imperial de vigilancia costera en el Mediterráneo occidental ('Can Blai: a lower-imperial, coastal fort in the Western Mediterranean').

When the third, current phase of the project is concluded Professor González indicated his intention to “publish a presentation of the use and chronological details of the fortification”. The project co-director added, “the first decade of the fourth century Rome dispatched some 80 men to the fort with an end toward keeping vigil over the island and thwarting the arrival of possible enemies”.

23 students from 13 universities across Europe

A total of 23 students from 13 different European universities are helping with excavation duties. The project is being poised as a learning space that will allow students to take part in training, both practical and theory-based, linked to their field of study.

Though the bulk of the project's funding is provided by Fondation Unice, it also benefits from the support of the Formentera Council. According to Councillor Labrador: “The administration has put forward all the capital in terms of the project logistics, and has also provided help with food expenses and lodging”. The councillor highlighted “the importance of projects like this that shed light on the island's past”.

Lecture series

Labrador also spoke about another educational aspect of the initiative: A series of 13 seminars that extends through the end of July and deals with topics related to the Can Blai excavation. “The conferences will even benefit from the presence of Dr González, who will give a sneak peek at the team's 2015 findings”. All of the talks are scheduled for the conference hall of the Formentera Council office of culture.

Five hundred eco-friendly bags handed out among local students

diasensebosses1The third of July is the International Plastic Bag Free Day, and Daisee Aguilera, the CiF councillor of the environment is seizing the opportunity to take the task of promoting multi-use and non-disposable bags –an objective toward which the local Formentera administration has often paved the way– to a new level.

In a press conference this morning, Aguilera reminded listeners in the crowd of “how important it is for the environment that we eschew plastic bags in favour of biodegradable options, like potato starch-based sacks”. Attempting to inculcate the custom in younger residents, Council staff distributed 500 cloth bags among students of the Escoleta Sa Miranda nursery and children in other summer programmes. In a more symbolic gesture, a certain number of the plastic-free bags were also handed out among tourists and older residents of the island.

Keeping the island clean

Councillor Aguilera explained that the Council would soon begin outreach campaigns to effect proper disposal habits among tourists and residents. The councillor referred to a series of posters which urge locals to keep the island clean as one possible solution. In effect, the environmental councillor spoke of the “increasingly frequent sight of oversized waste that is being left next to –but not inside– rubbish containers”.

The head of local environmental affairs noted that “to avoid the over-saturation of street-side bins, oversized objects need to be taken to the new rubbish tip ('la deixalleria') located at the industrial park”. As Silvia Carcelero, department head of Ferrovial Servicios, the contract-holder for local waste collection, pointed out, “there exists a door-to-door furniture collection service that can be contracted by calling 900 102 656”.

With regard to the accumulation of rubbish alongside a number of street-side bins in la Savina, Carcelero disclosed that the company is studying the possibility of putting a new bin halfway down the length of the Marina promenade, but emphasised that their priority would still be “raising awareness among users of the rubbish bins”. “Often what happens is that people leave their trash piled up next to the bin because they assume it's full. A quick look at the back end is all it takes to see that's not the case. They're bins with two-sided openings, and are generally only full at one side,” she added.

Council welcomes 240 swimmers to XVIth Volta a Formentera against Cystic Fibrosis

voltaDformen1Councillor of the presidential cabinet Bartomeu Escandell extended his welcome yesterday to the 240 swimmers that will participate in this year's –the sixteenth– Volta a Formentera. Translated as “tour” or “lap around Formentera”, the competitive event is subtitled 'nedant contra la Fibrosi Quística' (“swimming against Cystic Fibrosis”). The Formentera Council proposed a dinner for the succour-minded athletes yesterday evening at half past nine in Cafeteria San Francisco.

The CiF councillor indicated his pleasure hosting an event in the waters of Formentera at which the main focus was solidarity and took the opportunity to emphasize “the importance of the continued fight against this affliction”. For his part, Volta-organiser Carlos Pons spoke proudly about the growth of a competition forced in 2015 to “create a waiting list for 60 people”.

Martín Giacchetta lends his support to the cause

The eminent physical trainer, Martín Giacchetta, agreed to the auxiliary challenge “to raise funds and get the word out about this disease”. He has proposed doing the event solo. The 240 participants begin their lap around the island today, in sections and with the help of relief swimmers. A strong eastern ('llevant') wind was behind organisers' decision to change the starting point from es Cavall d'en Borràs to Cala Saona. 'La Volta a Formentera', sponsored by the Real Coco brand of soft drinks, finishes Sunday.

Approval for new organisation and structure of councillor salaries

ple consell de formentera 1 juliol 2015This morning, councilmembers reunited to celebrate the first plenary session of the new legislative sitting of the Formentera Council. Intended to be mainly organisational in nature, the session secured approval for a proposal on hourly commitments and wages of representatives of the local administration. Spending on councilmember remuneration “has dropped four percent compared to the previous sitting – an annual savings of 20,000 euros,” explained councillor of the presidential cabinet Bartomeu Escandell, a defender of the proposal.

Escandell underscored the fact that the wage bill of the Council's political structure has not changed, despite accommodating 17 councillors instead of the previous 13. He explained, “that was the line we'd drawn in the sand”.

The government team of the Formentera Council is composed of nine councillors (one more than in the previous legislative sitting). Seven of the nine have a full-time contract, one a part-time contract and the last has no hourly commitment. The president will receive a gross annual salary of 52,950 euros, the three vice-presidents 51,400 euros, the three full-time councillors 50,300 euros and the part-time councillor –a post which demands a weekly commitment of 19 hours– 25,150 euros.

The three spokesmen of the opposition parties –whose duties require a weekly commitment of 9.4 hours– will receive annual compensation in the amount of 15,050 euros (gross). Likewise, councillors without a fixed salary are remunerated 150 euros per plenary session attended and 120 per briefing committee, the latter a gathering known locally as a 'Comissió Informativa'. Each of the political parties also receives a monthly wage of 700 euros.

The three opposition parties –el Partido Popular, Compromís amb Formentera and el Partido Socialista– voted against the restructuring of wages and hourly commitments of councilmembers. José Manuel Alcaraz, spokesman of the Partido Popular, declared that “the weight of the [four percent] wage reduction has been foisted on the opposition”, while the PSOE's councillor, Rafael Ramírez, requested that the wages associated with different posts be defined in what is known as the Council's 'Reglament Orgànic' – the set of regulations that guide the administration. The legitimacy of such a suggestion was acknowledged by presidential cabinet councillor Escandell.

Isidor Torres, new chief of staff of the CiF

Another development at the morning plenary was the appointment of the Formentera Council chief of staff, a new position within the CiF. According to the councillor of the presidential cabinet, such an organisational post has become necessary for an administration that comprises more than 200 employes. The chief of staff will be charged with streamlining Council operations, collaborating on issues of organisation, directing personnel, fomenting the press department and assisting the work of the administration's human resources and IT offices.

Chosen to occupy the trusted post is Formentera-native Isidor Torres. A graduate in communication sciences at the Universitat Ramón Llull and in political science and administration at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Torres also holds a degree in public administrations management from Esade and a Master's degree in public administration. Among the different noteworthy aspects of his professional background are Torres' role, from 2004 to 2009, as consultant, project head and advisory member within the consulting, organisational, communications and human resources firm Estratègia Local. From 2010 to 2014, Torres was also a founding member and director of Planifica, a company dedicated to consulting, decision-making training and organisational and productivity improvements. From May 2014 he served as press department head of the Formentera Council.

The plenary session also saw approval –with votes in favour cast by the government team, abstention from the PP and votes against from the PSOE and Compromís amb Formentera– for a proposal concerning the frequency and scheduling of plenary sessions. As has become customary, the sessions will be held at nine a.m. the last Friday of every month.

Both the government team and the opposition parties approved a measure established the organisation of briefing committees ('Comissions Informatives') and gatherings known as 'special accounts comissions' ('Comissions Especials de Comptes'). Secured by an absolute majority, a measure was approved that plotted nominations of Council representatives to different governing bodies. The PP and PSOE, two groups that had no representatives included among the nominations, voted against the proposal. Bartomeu Escandell stressed the importance of the chosen nominations in the case of decision-making meetings of the briefing committee while promising to “study the possibility of including the participation of an opposition member” in other meetings of the committee. Compromís amb Formentera opted to abstain from the vote.

Finally, despite the “no” votes of the opposition, the plenary procured approval for  a measure assigning plenary powers to the government commission ('Comissió de Govern') of the Council, a move designed to speed up plenary session proceedings. On that subject, CiF government team spokesman Bartomeu Escandell indicated that “affairs of an administrative nature will be handled by the government commission”.

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