NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION

with Madeleine McMullin

Perpignan artist retweeted by Shakira

Alcantara Manuel’s drawings are often retweeted by Shakira – the reason being that they are of her.  The artist uses her as his muse inspired by her videos and concerts.  He would love to be asked to design one of her album covers and is thinking of publishing a book of his drawings of her.  Any profits would be given to Pies Descalzos, Shakira’s charity to help disadvantaged kids in Columbia.

 

Wanted man breaks into gendarmes’ barracks

On the night of the 23rd May a man who seemed totally spaced out climbed over the wall into the gendarmes’ barracks at Port Vendres.  He then attacked the gendarmes who were alerted by the alarm and was eventually overcome, although a senior officer and young police woman were injured in the process.  On investigation the man was found to be wanted by police in Carcassonne for an incident where one man was knocked into the Aude during a drunken fight, climbed out and stabbed his adversary 47 times before fleeing.  The wounds were serious but the victim will live; one eye and a lung were damaged.  Nobody knows how the wanted man ended up in Port Vendres, nor why he climbed into the barracks, but it definitely wasn’t to give himself up.  He has been handed over to the police in Carcassonne and remanded in custody on a charge of attempted murder.  He was already known to police for various incidents to do with theft and had been freed before standing trial in November.

 

Unemployment stable at +0.1% in P-O

Unemployment was down across France but in the P-O it stabilised with only 37 extra people signing on.  In the Aude it was up +0.4%, but in the new region as a whole it was down 0.6% against last year.

 

Green Light for solar power plant in Llo

The ELLO thermodynamic centre will be built on 36 hectares at Port de Llo.   The Administrative Tribunal in Montpellier has just given the project the green light following an appeal by Frene66, an association for the defence of the environment, which had lodged 2 appeals against the Prefectural decision to block the project.  The appeal had been supported by a number of town halls in Cerdagne and Capcir, the communities of communes in Pyrenees-Cerdagne and Capcir-Haut-Conflent, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Perpignan, the Building Federation and the Department.  The reason for building at Port de Llo is its proximity to other solar projects, namely the solar oven at Mont Louis and the one belonging to CNRS in Odeillo – Font Romeu as well as the Themis solar power plant in Targasonne.

 

March in support of shepherd in Corneilla de la Rivière

The affair of the shepherd and stable owner in Corneilla de la Rivière continues: this time there was a gathering in support of the shepherd and his wife on Sunday 30th May.  Organised by the movement Coordination against Racism and Islamophobia, the group demanded the release of the shepherdess so that she could tend the sheep, as well as the cherries and apricots on their land.  The shepherd’s 23 year old son was there, and said that he was feeding the sheep who were all being kept in the sheep shed, but that he didn’t know how to look after them properly and some of them were ready to lamb.  He added that it was his mother who took the sheep to the field and knew how to handle the sheep dogs and that there were financial complications.  He continued that he didn’t feel safe when he was at the sheep shed and was always on his guard.

 

Bouille affair: 5 convicted back before the court on Monday

The case came to the light of day in December 2008 when a system of corruption which was said to go to the heart of the municipality in St Cyprien and involved works of art and real estate was uncovered by the Perpignan police.  It was named after Jacques Bouille, the ex-mayor of St Cyprien who killed himself in prison in May 2009. 

About 20 elected officials, bureaucrats and heads of companies were put under investigation, until 15 of them were summoned before the court  in February 2015.  When the verdict was delivered in June, there were some discharges but also prison sentences.  

Six of those in question appealed to try to have their sentences reduced.  These were 2 years for Rémi Bolte, the ex-principal private secretary of St Cyprien, 1 and a half years for Francis Montor, ex-general manager of services for the commune, 1 year for Pierre Fontveille, ex deputy for finances, 6 months for Marie-Antoinette Bouille, the mayor’s widow.  Pierre Ferrer and Jean-Christophe Deville, company directors also appealed their 1 year suspended sentences and bar from working in business for 5 years. 

However Mr Deville has since withdrawn his appeal, so there were 5 appellants at the bar on the 30th May.  The prosecutor straight away agreed to dropping part of each of the cases against Pierre Fontville, Rémi Bolte, Francis Montor and Pierre Ferrer, although all will still have some charges to answer.  Doubts are being raised about the impartiality of some of the witnesses: the officer in charge of the inquiry was sleeping with the principal witness, who had been Remi Bolte’s long term partner, and the investigative judge knew about this but still allowed it to continue for a year and a half.

 

152kg of cannabis hidden in beetroots

A Dutch truck containing 22 big bags of beetroots coming from Spain and destined for Holland was pulled over by customs at the toll at Le Boulou and found to contain 152kg of weed.  The Dutch driver claimed to know nothing about the contents of the lorry, but was handed over to the police, and the drugs and lorry were seized by customs officials.

 

Old Mex building in Canet may become cinema

A buyer who has been negotiating for years to buy the old Mex club in Canet which was closed after a fire in 2005, may see his purchase pre-empted by the town hall which has been looking for a suitable premises for a cinema for years.  According to a source, the mayor has always wanted to create a cinema complex as the demand is there in the town, and the old cinema building is obsolete.  He is therefore considering using his powers to purchase the Mex building for the commune. 

The buyer who has signed the compromis de vente was diplomatic, saying that he could see that it was a good idea to build a cinema, but that the premises would have to be big enough to accommodate inhabitants from both Canet and the surrounding villages as medium sized cinemas like the one between Leucate and Le Barcarès had difficulty surviving financially.  He would like to reopen the building as a night club which the town hall has acknowledged would also not be a bad thing.

 

Guillaume Fort from St Estève champion barber of France

Guillaume Fort took part in an international barber’s competition organised by American Crew last Monday, 23rd May.  He came first out of the 105 French competitors, making him French Barber of the Year for the second year running, but missed out on the world title which went to a Briton.  Fort runs an old fashioned barber’s shop in St Estève, complete with cut throat razors, warm towels and bowler hatted barbers.

 

Ecocup opens a Barcelona branch

Ecocup, the Céret-based company behind the printed recyclable beakers for events, has signed two big contracts, one with the town hall in Barcelona and the other with a major brand of beer.  They are the market leaders in France for all ferias, festivals and sporting events and were also used at the last rugby world cup. 

They recently supplied the Springsteen concert in Madrid and those of Adele and Coldplay in Barcelona, where the town hall was so impressed that they decided to adopt the concept and use Ecocups in many of their tourist sites such as the zoo, Montjuic, the Lluis Companys stadium, the Palau Sant Jordi, the Tibidabo and the Forum.   Any organisation that wants to put on an event in the city either has to use Ecocups or pay a tax for the rubbish. 

The demand is such that the company has had to open a small production and washing station in Catalonia with 5 permanent employees and several seasonal staff in charge of about 2 million plastic cups.  The company has just pulled back from trying to get into major amusement parks, as they are only just managing to keep up with demand elsewhere. 

They are the official suppliers of Euro 2016 and have just signed a contract with Super Bock, the most popular brand of beer in Portugal with 6 big rock festivals.  They have just opened an office in Portugal because of the demand there, in addition to their existing 9 offices and washing stations in France, Belgium, England and Barcelona.  They are now negotiating to supply the final of the Top 14 at Camp Nou.  Emmanuel Torrent would like to see a reduction in the number of disposable plastic cups in use elsewhere such as service stations etc.  Discarded Ecocups are collected and rewashed and he would like to see this practice spread to service stations etc.

 

Policeman from Perpignan suspected of stealing drugs from the judicial police

The judges announced on 24th May that they’ve finished their investigations in to the theft of 52kg of cocaine from the police headquarters in Paris.  They are pursuing 11 people who have 1 month to comment or ask for the further investigations, otherwise they will have to wait for the court to decide whether to proceed to trial. 

The theft wasn’t discovered for a couple of days, but Jonathan Guyot, a policeman from Perpignan who was working for the drug squad in Paris was caught on CCTV on the night of the theft in July 2014.  He was arrested in Perpignan on 2nd August 2014 and is still on remand.    The drugs have still not been found.  Guyot was in touch with an important drug trafficker from the Dominican Republic, who might have got rid of the merchandise.  5 other policemen are under suspicion as well as a grass nicknamed “Robert” who admitted having handled large amounts of cannabis given to him by the officer and may have helped Guyot transport the drugs once he’d stolen them. 

Guyot and several of his colleagues are suspected of having trafficked more than just the cocaine, keeping drugs that had been seized and selling them.  The officer who was on €2500 per month had bought several apartments in Paris and the P-O.  They also found around €25,000 in cash in his home and in a rucksack, and his brother admitted hiding €200,000 in and around the lake at Créteil.

 

State grants down overall for P-O

The amount that the State gives to the different towns and villages of the P-O has gone down this year although the amount per inhabitant has stayed roughly the same (€222 per inhabitant).   St Laurent de la Salanque & Le Barcarès were among the few lucky towns to have their grant increased.  Perpignan saw its grant shrink by 5.5% (€1.5 mill).

 

Prisoner caught live-streaming

A prisoner in Perpignan prison was using Periscope, an app that allows you to stream video live, on his mobile phone when he was caught by a guard on his rounds.  He will appear before a disciplinary committee.  Mobile phones are not allowed in prison, but are increasing in number since the end of systematic searches after visits which guards want reintroduced.

 

May’s weather not as bad as it felt

While most people are grumbling about the weather in May the official records reveal that it wasn’t actually all that bad: an average temperature of 17.1o compared with 16.9 o most years and rainfall of 30.9mm in Perpignan which is one of the lowest totals on record, although it did rain 1 day in 3 which is more than normal.  There was more wind than most years: 11 days with winds over 50km/h and not a single day with winds under 31km/h on the Roussillon plain.  Perhaps it was just the fact that it was drizzling and windy and stopped us from going outside which made it feel like a bad month.

 

Woman alerts authorities about failure to find knife in hand luggage

A woman on an Hop flight from Paris to Perpignan realised that she had a knife in her bag on board which was missed by the security checks at Orly.  The knife had a blade about 10cm long.  Apparently it is legal to travel with a blade up to 6cm according to EU laws.  She pointed out the security failure to the authorities once she’d arrived in Perpignan.  The director of Perpignan airport said it was probably down to human error with the person sat at the X-ray scanner not spotting the knife, but that Orly would hold an investigation.

 

€1.5 million for Prades lycée

The Lycée Charles Renouvier will get a €1.5 million facelift with funds from the Conseil Général.  The money will be used to redo the athletic track and the entrance to the school.  A teachers’ carpark will be created and a new car park for students and visitors as well a pedestrian area which will make the flow of visitors and cars safer.

 

ABOUT MADELEINE

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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