NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION

with Madeleine McMullin

Ski resorts open: Les Angles, Font Romeu, Porté Puymorens

The cold, dry conditions have allowed the snow cannons to go great guns all week so that some ski resorts could open at least partially this weekend. Formiguères, Puyvalador, La Quillane and L’Espace Cambre d’Aze will open on the weekends of 10th and 17th December. Font Romeu will have 13 pistes and 8 lifts open, and the snowpark which has just been named the best snowpark in the Pyrenees and the 6th best nationally by the paper L’Equipe is already operational. At Les Angles there are 11 pistes and at Porté Puymorens, where they opened one piste last weekend, this weekend they will extend a bit further. They are working to get 75% of the resort open by the 8th December when the Spanish Catalans start a long weekend.

Collioure in colour

At 6.30pm on 2nd December, the first screening of Collioure couleurs will take place. Kéroscène, the “son et lumière” experts based at St Estève and Llauro are putting on “Nadal à Cotlliure, un Noël Catalan”. The screenings will take place every Friday and Saturday in December at 18.30 and 20.00 starting from tonight. It lasts for 15 mins and tells the story of the Kings of Majorca who are associated with the town in the spirit of Christmas. Part of the projection is against the church and takes on its contours. The town has contributed to the cost of this and other festivities to the tune of €55,000.

Lieutenant acquitted of sexual harassment

6 female recruits to the gendarmes had accused the lieutenant in charge of them of sexual harassment in 2014 and the trial has just been held in Perpignan.  They spoke of the remarks, double entendres, allusions and other slights that they had to suffer. 3 of them left the gendarmes for various other jobs, but one said that she had stayed and found that it was the same everywhere in such a macho environment with a huge lack of respect towards female officers. The lieutenant said “I was brought up in a 100% khaki culture and sometimes my remarks are a bit crude”. He has been transferred and is being considered for promotion to captain. His lawyers defended him as having a salacious sense of humour and being risqué, bawdy and a bit “Rabelaisian”, but said that he had not intended to hurt and was being made an example of. He was acquitted of intentional sexual harassment but could still face an appeal.

Iggy Pop back for 10th Déferlantes

Iggy has agreed to come back and play the Déferlantes in Argelès for the third time. He will headline on the 10th July. The other act confirmed so far is Renaud.

Oui au pays Catalan continues

The movement has continued even after the confirmation of the new name for the region, and is going round meeting the population in the different communes in the department. The party is trying to ensure a recognition of the Catalan nature of the region and is particularly worried about the expressed intention of Manuel Valls to abolish all French departments by 2021, thus getting rid of the only mainly Catalan body left.

Fake marriage network dismantled

The head of the interdepartmental service of the border police has asked for the dismantling of the organisation that arranged a marriage of convenience in the P-O. An investigation found that the wedding that took place in a small village in the department was for the sole purpose of getting a residence permit for the groom who was foreign. The organiser is said to have taken advantage of the material and mental fragility of the bride, a young lady of 19. She put together a network of people she knew who put up the future groom and that together with false statements about where he was staying allowed him to come to France and get permission to marry. The wedding took place in May 2015. The organiser, her ex-husband and the two newly weds will come before the court on 8 March, until when the marriage will not be annulled.

Boyfriend gave her AIDS

A woman in her 50s was infected with AIDS by her boyfriend who knew that he had the disease. She is currently seeking justice after catching it from him in 2013 shortly after meeting him through her daughter. They had the same GP who said nothing to her due to confidentiality laws. She found out when she became ill. Her boyfriend told her that he knew he had the disease in 2000 and left his wife because he didn’t want to infect her. He wasn’t taking any treatment and hadn’t told her because he didn’t want her to leave him. She has other medical problems and has only just found an AIDS drug regime that she can take. She made a formal complaint and the boyfriend is being tried for administering a harmful substance followed by mutilation or permanent disability, but she is frustrated by the time that it is taking and worried that he will die before he is brought to justice.

Consolidation of private maternity services confirmed

The transfer of maternity services from the Clinic of St Pierre to Notre Dame d’Esperance has had the nod from the ARS (regional agency for health) and should be confirmed before the end of the year. This is likely to mean that eventually the only perinatal centre in the department will end up at Notre Dame d’Esperance.

Body in the cupboard guilty verdict upheld

The appeal court in Aude has upheld the guilty verdict for Alexandre Bourgeat, 31, with a 20 year sentence. The accused was being retried for the murder of Jean-Marie Kleinbauer whose body was found bound and wrapped in sheets and blankets in the cupboard of a hotel room in Argelès sur Mer in May 2010.

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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