NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION

with Madeleine McMullin

Banyuls sur Mer among the hottest places in France in August

On average the seaside resort of Banyuls sur Mer is the third hottest place in France at 24.8o in August. The hottest is La Chiappa, Corse du Sud at 25.6o, followed by Cap Sagro and Ajaccio, Corse at 24.8o. This August has had both hot and cooler weather so it hasn’t been the warmest on record.

Perpignan bars will stay open longer during VISA

The municipality has agreed that bars can stay open till 3am rather than the habitual 2am. The security situation has meant that this is an earlier closing time than last year when it was 5am. The new hours will be in force from 29th August to 3rd September inclusive. The bar owners are happy as it means that they will still have 3 hours of business after the screenings at Campo Santo finish.

Application for AOC status for Roussillon olive oil

The olive oil industry in the area was practically wiped out in one night in 1956when the temperatures plummeted below -10, killed off most of the trees and ruined the farmers at the same time.  The industry was restarted 20 years later in Millas under the impetus of the mayor and it has taken a long time to recover.   But now the unique tasting local olive oil is back, and the Federation of Roussillon Olive Oil has applied for AOC status to give it proper recognition as a speciality olive oil.  The application has already been handed into INAO (National Institute for Origin and Quality).  According to Jacqueline Reig, the federation’s president it might take a little finessing but they are confident that it will be accepted.  Only producers who are members of the federation will be able to use the label.

€12,000 damage to children’s playground

On Monday 15th August  3 adolescents aged between 15 and 17 were arrested around 11pm vandalising a children’s playground on Wilson Boulevard in Perpignan and setting fire to two bins. A 4th escaped and the other 3 refused to say who he was, although they did admit causing the damage which will cost about €12000 to repair.

“Lynching” on Perpignan nightclub carpark – suspect freed on bail

The rugby player who was being held on remand while being investigated for attempted murder after attacking and nearly killing a man on the carpark of a Perpignan club in December 2015 has been freed on bail after spending the last 8 months in gaol. The court of appeal in Montpellier decided that he would be unlikely to cause any further trouble before his trial meaning that he no longer needed to be held. He is however not allowed to enter the P-O or to go to nightclubs. Rachid Alhalou attacked another client when very drunk and on tranquilisers, after thinking that he had sneered at him. About 10 other men came to help the rugby player kick and punch the victim who was unconscious for 6 minutes and woke with his head split open, spitting out his teeth and with several fractures, among them a broken nose. Alhalou was depressed at the time as his career was not going as well as he had hoped and he had split up with his girlfriend. He denies attempting to murder the man and claims to have been shocked when he saw the CCTV footage of the attack and that it was totally out of character, only happening because he was in a “secondary state” at the time. He has disassociated himself from the others who joined in, saying that they are not friends. He faces 30 years if found guilty.

Rapist on remand wants to be freed

A young homeless man and his accomplice got to know a vulnerable girl who had just turned 18 and was 4 months’ pregnant. They robbed her and her boyfriend of their bank card and their mobile phone, then took them to their squat in Perpignan where they beat up the boy and ordered the girl to perform blow jobs on them. She refused, so they tied her hands and feet with electrical wire and raped her. They also made her eat condoms, drink urine and threatened to beat her till she lost her baby. The ordeal went on for 3 hours. The man is from Perpignan and has been in prison on remand since it happened in March 2015. He is just about to turn 20 and has appealed his detention as he “wants to get on with his life, pass his exams and his driving test and have a normal social life like everyone else”. He added that he had made a big mistake and he was really sorry for what he’d done. The psychiatrist who examined him found him indifferent to the suffering of others and with  “a complete absence of any scruples even when being examined”.

Biggest fraud of the summer – Argelès flats

More than 100 tourists have been the victims of fraud and seen their holidays turn into nightmares. They all booked their holidays via the internet, some on Leboncoin but others on sites that boast of providing “proper rentals for successful holidays”.  An Alsacian couple who booked one of the flats last April had take a house 5 minutes from the beach costing €1200 for 2 weeks which was an average sort of price in their view. The wife telephoned and talked to a charming man who filled her with confidence. He asked for a €700 deposit to be paid by bank transfer, not cheque. This was done and when she phoned again a couple of days before the holiday, she was reassured that everything was fine. When they turned up, the owner of the house told them that it was a scam, so they went to the tourist office to find alternative accommodation before heading to the police to complain. They were lucky enough to find a vacancy on a campsite which had had a cancellation, unlike many of the other families who had suffered the same fate as most accommodation was already fully booked. According to the Independant’s information the police have received around 100 similar complaints this summer, and Argelès is not the only resort that is affected.

Elephant club shut in Canet

The Elephant, one of the trendiest clubs in Canet has been shut for safety reasons by the Prefecture. The manager admits that they had had a problem but says that it has been rectified, although it appears that what was done was not enough. He added that to shut them in full season was to put 18 jobs, the livelihood of their suppliers and the future of the club at risk. He has been encouraged by messages of support from a faithful clientele but the club is not allowed to reopen until 2nd September.

He robbed a 70 year old and headbutted a policeman

A 40 year old man grabbed the bank card of a 70 year old when he was making a withdrawal.  He was then arrested taking out €500 but headbutted one of the policeman who was trying to detain him. He is well known to the police and has admitted taking the money and verbal assault but denies attacking a policeman. He is being held in detention while investigations on other potential offences are being carried out and will come to court on 17th August.

Man dies in Amélie fire

A man received 3rd degree burns in a fire at a house in Amélie Les Bains on Sunday night/Monday morning 21st/22nd August. The man was found unconscious and was rushed to Montpellier but died of his injuries. His 9 year old son was also in the house at the time and was taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation, but later released.  The fire is thought to have started in the kitchen and spread throughout the house which was entirely destroyed.  The family had arrived in the house which belonged to the man’s parents a couple of days earlier.

Man stabbed in restaurant brawl

A lady who was dining in a restaurant in Latour Bas Elne was accosted by another client. Her partner intervened and there was an argument. When the couple later left the restaurant to go to their car, he was again attacked by the same man and his cousin with a knife and a truncheon. They stabbed him 3 times in the stomach, back and at the bottom of the head.  A friend of his who tried to intervene received truncheon blows to the head. The emergency services were called and the alleged attackers were quickly apprehended. The victims were taken to hospital, but their wounds are not life threatening. The two cousins, one of whom was already known to police, were up in court on 22nd August. They have been put under investigation for violence aggravated on 3 grounds: use of a weapon, drunkenness and violence by joint enterprise. They are on remand: one in the remand centre in Perpignan, the other in the one in Beziers.

Two fires in space of one day at Calce

A fire which started on Monday morning in the commune of Calce at the Col de la Dona and burnt 9 hectares before being brought under control was followed by another one which started just before midnight on the same day. The fire was quickly put out but still destroyed a hectare and a half. The fact that the 2 fires happened so quickly one after the other raises questions about how they started.

“Tous unis pour Matthéo”: association started to help autistic, disabled boy

Matthéo was born with autism and Dandy Walker syndrome, a congenital brain malformation which affects his movement and the muscle tone in his legs, as well as making him scream to communicate most of the time. The doctors said that he would be a vegetable, but he is managing to come to life thanks to his mother, Hélène Bonnaud who quit her job to look after him. Medek (a sort of strengthened physiotherapy) has helped him to walk and his mother has taught him to communicate using sign language and by touching him. “He recognises textures, objects. He takes in and understands what I’m asking him.” Most of the costs of his care are either not reimbursed or only partially and his disability benefit does not cover the expenses. So his mother decided to set up an association partly to help with the costs but also mainly to change people’s idea of her son’s disability. The launch is taking place on 10th September in St Cyprien where she is organising a release of lanterns on the beach, because her son adores the sea and light. She has also set up a Facebook page whose 1200 members have proved to her that there is support out there; Matthéo received cards and presents for his birthday. One man even sent €200. Her next plan is to start a Parent Café as a way of meeting other parents in her situation, to share and to make Matthéo less isolated. You can find the Facebook page here.

Christ du Taxo d’Amont disappears

A statue of Christ which has been on the old road to St André in Taxo for decades has disappeared.  A man from Palau del Vidre raised the alarm.  He was in the habit of going to put flowers at the foot of the statue once a year in memory of his mother who loved it.  When he went this year, the nearly 2m high wooden statue had disappeared and only its base was left.  The Independant’s investigations have lead nowhere; it is no clearer whether it was taken down because it was dangerous (woodworm?), has been stolen or vandalised.

Incestuous father wants out of gaol

A father in his 50s who has been in prison since April 2104 accused of sexually abusing his daughter when she was aged 11 – 16 is asking to be freed on bail.  He is alleged to have made her watch pornographic films and filmed her during sexual exploits.  He acknowledges most of the facts, although not the worst ones.  According to the case handler from the investigative Chambers, he minimises his responsibility and says that the daughter instigated sexual relations to get permission to go out with her friends.  The mother of the family knew of the abuse, but has not been pursued by the authorities.  The church to which he belonged organised a ceremony to pardon him at which he confessed and repented in front of a pastor and the young victim accepted his apologies.  She eventually plucked up the courage to complain to the police.  “Everybody in the evangelist church knew about the affair”, according to the civil parties’ lawyer and the young victim is still very traumatised despite managing to get on with her life.  The man’s trial is fixed for 2017 and he wants to be released till then so that he can be with his son, repair his house and help his wife financially.  He claims to be a different man who will have to live with what he has done for the rest of his life.  The prosecution is opposing the release to avoid any pressure on the victim and because he is a flight risk as he faces 20 years in prison.  The decision will be handed down on 25th August.

€6million win on Loto

A lucky individual who has chosen to remain anonymous has hit the jackpot in Alès, not actually in the P-O but I thought it would be nice to have a bit of good news and it’s not too far away.  He apparently woke his mum up to tell her at 2am when he had checked his ticket and found he had won, and is planning to spoil his immediate entourage.

Géocaching taking off in the P-O

Geocaching is a form of treasure hunt where people track down a box somewhere in the countryside, write their name in a book that has been left in it, and sometimes leave a little token which can be taken in exchange for something else.  Its attraction is that it enables practitioners to get fresh air and exercise while discovering new areas and walks.  Details of the locations of the 1960 geocaches in the P-O can be found on www.geocaching.com.  All caches are placed in areas where they can be reached without placing yourself at risk, so why not practice your map reading skills, or just download the GPS co-ordinates and go and find some!

Madeleine McMullin lives in Palalda from where she runs her marketing business Marketing66.  She has worked both in the UK and abroad, with big brand names in the interiors and design industries such as Wedgwood, Denby, Sebastian Conran, Laura Ashley, Hemingway Design……..

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