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Consensus among political groups marks start of draft law on vehicle entry onto island

MEsa treball Llei3This morning at the Formentera Council, a meeting was celebrated by the Junta de Portaveus, a group of spokespersons of the different political organisations on the island. The junta arrived at the unanimous decision to begin drafting a proposal that will go before the Balearic Islands parliament with the objective of waging an entry tax on vehicles coming to Formentera.

Present at the gathering were Jaume Ferrer, president of the Formentera Council, and spokespersons of the political groups with representation in the local administration. The list included Sònia Cardona from Gent per Formentera, José Manuel Alcaraz from Partido Popular, Santi Juan from PSOE and Javi Serra from Grup Independent de Formentera (GUIF).

The junta is a deliberative body of Formentera's political groups, stipulated within the administration's code of regulations, and having the function of adopting positions on general interest issues.

The day's gathering transpired as per the debate that took place at the Consell d'Entitats (council of local organisations), at which juncture it was decided not only that resources would be dedicated to abating the oversaturation of vehicle traffic affecting the island at different points throughout the year, but also that this action would be achieved by means of a tax on vehicle entry. The session served to organise the different tasks that will be necessary in order to bring the proposal before the Balearic Parlament. It will in turn fall within the remit of the parliament to authorise Formentera to administer the vehicle tax.

Biweekly meetings

Meeting attendees agreed on creating a working group composed of the following members: the president of the Formentera Council, one representative from each political party, the transport councillor of the local administration, a representative of the Consell d'Entitats and Council secretary Àngel Navarro, who will act as chief of the group's technical operations.

In addition, the decision was made to permit group members to attend gatherings in the company of secondary advisers and the door was also opened to the use of external consultation if deemed necessary. The meetings will be held once a fortnight. The first gathering of the working group was thus scheduled for 10 March. In consideration of the approaching end of the current legislative session, the political parties agreed that whatever the result of the upcoming May elections, the group would move forward until completion of the proposed work.

Condolences for Sister Francisca and Don Pep

Last Friday, 20 February, was marked by the passing of Francisca Serra Llabrès, or Sister Francisca, a nun of the Catholic church of Formentera. Born in Establiments, Mallorca in 1921 and arriving in Formentera in 1955, over the course of more than fifty years 'Sor Francisca' came to be known for her work in service of the needy and her schooling of generations of local children. The year 2006 attended Sor Francisca's honouring as Adoptive daughter of Formentera. Tuesday, 25 February at 7pm in the Sant Francesc Xavier church, a funeral mass will be held in her memory.

Yesterday, 23 February, saw the passing of Josep Costa Guasch, or Don Pep as he was affectionately known on the island. Born on Eivissa in 1933, Don Pep served as monsignor of the Sant Ferran parish and helped many children without resources into secondary and higher education across the archipelago. Don Pep is remembered for his fomenting of numerous initiatives in support of youth and sport on the island. Among these, he is notably celebrated for his collaboration founding the Societat Esportiva Formentera, the Formentera Sports Society. In 2010 Don Pep was honoured with the Premi Sant Jaume. Wednesday at noon will attend a wake for the island's beloved monsignor at the Santa Creu church to be followed at 4:30 by his funeral service. May the two souls rest in peace.

Backing for local windsurfers on Olympic track

olimpics totsThis morning in the plenary hall of the Formentera Council, audience members learned about the double sponsorship of local athletes Joan Carles Cardona, Mateo Sanz and Sergi Escandell, three windsurfers for whom the 2016 Olympic games in Rio just might be in the cards.

The Council has earmarked €10,000 for each of the three young men and the hotel chain RIU has pitched in another €6,000 each. The money is intended to ensure that the athletes are able to dedicate as much time as possible to training.

At the event were Formentera Council president Jaume Ferrer, sports councillor Sergio Jiménez, Hotel La Mola director Gina Noguer, social responsibility administrative director for the RIU company Cati Alemany, head of the Formentera's local sailing school Asier Fernández and the three windsurfers, Joan Carles Cardona, Mateo Sanz and Sergi Escandell.

First of the group to speak, Cardona revealed that he and his companions were “excited to keep working hard and eager to show the Council and the RIU company how much we appreciate their efforts”. Sanz and Escandell said their goal was to make it to the Olympics and finished by promising: “We're going to do our best to see that it happens”.

Council president Ferrer spoke about the excitement in the air that at least one of the athletes make the Olympic cut. Ferrer noted that if any of them did, he would have the distinction of being the first Formenterenc to make it that far. The president spoke about the extraordinary effort that each of the boys had made - “it would be impossible to get this far doing it any other way” - and thanked Asier Fernández for a career marked by hard work: “From the beginning Asier has lead the school. He is the reason these athletes were able to reach their level of technical and competitive prowess”.

Ferrer also called to mind the “enormous efforts on the part of past administrations of the Ajuntament de Formentera as well as the current administration of the Council to keep the sailing school going”.

Fernández, director of what is commonly called the escola de vela on the island, gave thanks for all “the backing given to the boys and to the escola” and said, “We sure hope we can make this Olympic dream a reality”.

“Youth and sports give added value”

Gina Noguer of RIU congratulated the three young men and thanked the Council for its work. In her words, the current project “is an example of how the tourism industry can get involved in local community projects”. Cati Alemany stated: “Sports and youth contribute added value to Formentera”.

Formentera expects of Govern same will to compromise re: tourism promotion as that displayed during finance law negotiations

seccio insular FRM 190115This morning by video conference call, a meeting was held of the Formentera section of the mixed transfer commission regarding the transfer of authority on tourism promotions. Similar versions of the same meeting will be held with Mallorca, Menorca and Eivissa to preface the work to be overseen by each island's mixed transfer commission.

In the words of Formentera Council President Jaume Ferrer, the meeting was “disappointing given that representatives of the Govern remain unwilling to change even a comma of their original proposal”. However, with time left on the clock before the final meeting is convened, Ferrer indicated his belief that “the Govern still has time to rectify things and adopt a position of compromise”. Evoking the lead-up to the law on financing of the island councils, Ferrer recalled “a real willingness to negotiate on the part of the Govern...[At that time] our island was listened to and a real effort was made to make the accord happen”.

According to President Ferrer, “Formentera wants this accord. We are not acting capriciously here. We make our living almost entirely off of tourism and want our say chiefly because we need it. However, it is clear that the behaviour of the Govern is not one of an institution seeking an accord”.

Support from the local board of tourism

Yesterday, 18 February, in a meeting held by the local board of tourism (el Patronat de Turisme), representatives of the tourism and business sectors of the island voted unanimously to reject the present conditions of the authority transfer. Concurring that the proposal in its current state was neither fair nor sufficient, Patronat attendees found that acceptance of the conditions would be “irresponsible”.

Tourism councillor Alejandra Ferrer indicated that the rocky progress of negotiations had been set at the beginning. She lamented: “Mallorca has been allowed to set the rules of engagement, while at the same time, they have already made their position perfectly clear. [Mallorca] would prefer for the authority transfer not to happen, that tourism promotions remain in the hands of the Govern Balear in Palma. The situation is illogical, because Mallorca's goal is clearly for control to remain in the hands of IBATUR, the Govern entity presently charged with tourism promotions across all four islands. What Mallorca wants is for IBATUR to retain a maximum of financing and infrastructure”.

Ferrer explained: “As a result, the dialogue shifted and people began calling the change a transfer of authorities, although in reality it's nothing of the sort. [The current plans] call for the staff, structure and majority of the budget of IBATUR to remain where it is, and that entity would continue operating in favour of Mallorca. Meanwhile, the other three islands would be required to construct a new infrastructure from the ground up, doting it with a staff and budget allowance that can barely cover attendance at tourism trade shows. In a word, nonsense”.

The councillor of tourism continued: “So, to start, we had Mallorca insisting they didn't want the transfer to happen and yet they have been the ones defining its evolution. And now, adding insult to injury, not one of our suggestions has been accepted over the course of negotiations. We have thus ended up with a proposal from the Govern that includes a minuscule allocation for Formentera. While the overall budget for tourism in the Balearics grows and the allocation of each of the other three islands grows with it, Formentera is left with a quantity that will remain more or less at its initial level. This would mean, from year to year, a steady loss of ground with respect to our competition”.

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