NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION

with Madeleine McMullin

2 people drowned in Canet

A man in his 40s drowned in Canet while trying to save his 12 year old son.  The son was rescued about an hour and a half later after being found by 2 helicopters searching for him, but eventually died in hospital a few hours afterwards.

Hospital management to consider alternatives to paid parking

Union representatives and Front de Gauche presented a petition of 5000 signatures against the introduction of parking charges to Vincent Rouvet, the director of the hospital in Perpignan.  They are opposing charges for parking and the handing of the management to a third party, saying that the local population is already paying for the difficult birth of the new hospital, and to bring in parking charges would cause chaos in the surrounding area.  The spokesperson pointed to the situation at the Saint Pierre Clinic which has seen “anarchic” parking in the streets around the clinic since they started charging.  The management is said to be considering alternatives in order to reach a consensus but is refusing to contemplate a continuation of the status quo.

Extension of the pedestrian zone in Perpignan

Twenty years after the Quai Vauban was first pedestrianised the town has spent €450, 000 on extending the zone to the start of the Clemenceau Boulevard.  Traffic has been redirected and the pavement upgraded with trees and street furniture to help ensure public safety and security, and prevent traffic from entering the zone.  The option to pedestrianise the Quai Sadi-Carnot is also being looked at, but would involve re-routing buses and redirecting traffic to the Avenue Général Leclerc, which may cause problems with the parking for the Theatre de l’Archipel.

Parisian landlady continued to rent out Rivesaltes flats despite them being condemned

A landlady carried on pocketing the CAF payments for her tenants and taking the rent from 25th May to 1st September 2015, in spite of the fact that her building had been condemned as unfit for habitation.  The lady who is an architect by profession, claimed that she was swamped by her professional and private life and so didn’t act quickly enough.  She  has since repaid the CAF and put in place renovation work to rectify the faults with the flats.  She was fined €5000 – half of what the prosecution was demanding.

France’s biggest windfarm inaugurated

The biggest windfarm in France based in Calce, Baixas, Villeneuve de la Rivière and Pézilla la Rivière was opened on Friday 24th June by the CEO of EDF one of the biggest stakeholders in the project.  The windfarm will produce enough power to service the city of Perpignan.  The project which cost €130 million cements the department’s position as the a leader in the changes in energy.

Appeal for witnesses in alleged rape

The police are appealing for witnesses who may have been approached by an individual of North African race, aged 20 – 25, between 1.70 – 1.75m tall with short brown hair in the area of the station, around lycées and in Bas Vernet and Canet en Roussillon.  The man is suspected of approaching minors and young adults on the pretext of robbing them of money or cannabis before threatening them with a knife and demanding sexual favours or attacking them if refused.

Portes des Neiges project ends in €1.439 million payment for Porta

The Portes des Neiges project which was to create the biggest ski resort in Europe linking Porta, Porté Puymorens and Pas de la Case ended in a court judgement for the commune of Porta to pay the investors who had bought the land in the 1990s when the prefect at the time gave permission for it to go ahead and installed a ski lift in 2006.  The lift which belonged to the commune of Porta cost €4.5 million to install and was eventually dismantled at the request of the mayor after permission for the project was withdrawn by the prefect.  It was sold by the investors for €2.1 million.  It is the difference that the commune has to find to reimburse the investors who had originally been awarded €14 million in compensation.

Small-scale fishing boats accuse trawlers

There is a 3 nautical mile exclusion zone for fishing with trawls around the coast, but the smaller fishing boats are complaining about ripped nets from trawlers which do not respect the zone and anger is rising.  The director of the marine park, Gildas Le Corre explained that “the difficulty is catching the trawlers as you need to prove that the nets are there, and that the trawler is fishing.  That said, we have put measures in place and have caught 2 vessels which we are in the process of prosecuting.  We are hoping that this will dissuade others from breaking the rules.  Everyone working at sea needs to sustainable and that implies respecting resources”.

Small rural businesses made to take down signs in Corneilla de Conflent

A garage owner and a campsite both based in the countryside in the commune of Corneilla de Conflent have been forced to remove signs that they’d put up to help customers find their businesses, as they are within the Regional Natural Park.  The DDTM (Departmental Management for Territories and the Sea) sent them both a directive forcing them to remove the signs or pay fines of €202 for each day they were in breach.  The mayor of the commune is installing smaller directional signs.  The garage owner, Damien Moné said that when he telephoned the authorities they told him that everyone has GPS and mobiles these days so there is no longer a need for signs.  He however disagreed saying that he had to drive to the village to help older customers find him.

Biggest burger in France

Antony is the owner of the New York New York café in Argelès sur Mer.  A big fan of the USA, he runs a restaurant which uses Charolais, Limousine and Scottish Black Angus beef and has the best Trip Advisor marks of all the 177 eateries in the village.  Up till now he has offered 3 different sizes of burger: 200g, 400g, 1kg, but he has just introduced a 2kg burger in response to customers who said that they made them bigger in the States.  It is served with buns, Irish cheddar, caramelised onions, smoked bacon and the house sauce.  The café is thought by the owner to be the only place in France to serve this size.  If you can eat it in less than 30 minutes you will get it free, if you manage to finish it, your name will be on the wall of fame in the café, if not you’ll be up on the wall of shame.

Stolen meat found in car with defective indicators

Police tried to stop a car with defective indicators in the middle of the night of 23rd June.  The car sped up and took off before turning down a dead end where the police caught up with it and found 3 dead lambs cut up on the back seat and a crowbar and screwdrivers in the boot.  The driver and 3 passengers eventually said that they had bought the meat from a third party, but a refrigerated lorry driver had lodged a complaint about being broken into and robbed at Fourques and the two incidents were quickly linked.  The 3 men will be summoned before court.

Argelès inhabitants fed up

A group of shopkeepers and other inhabitants of Argelès have formed a group and launched a Facebook page to try to get action on the increasing number of delinquents hanging around in the centre of the village on the rue de la République and the place de l’Eglise.  Residents, visitors and local business people feel threatened by the youths, who are dealing drugs, fighting, swearing and generally making things unpleasant for everybody else.  The mayor acknowledges that the situation is intolerable but says that the police have had difficulty acting because they need to catch them in the act of dealing.  They are looking at ways of tackling the problem including the use of CCTV.

Mushrooming regulations

The National Office for the Forests has restated the laws surrounding mushrooming: namely that you are only allowed to pick enough for your family – no more than 5 litres per day.  You must use a knife to cut the mushroom and leave the foot, you can’t collect any at night, you can’t systematically destroy any mushrooms that you don’t pick yourself and you mustn’t use vehicles on roads that are out of bounds.  Picking mushrooms for sale is forbidden unless you have a private forest.

Armed lifesavers on the beaches

A decision has been taken to arm the maitres-nageurs-sauveurs (master lifesavers) in charge of various beaches around France.  In the P-O the heads of the stations at Barcarès will have guns.  Previously they had a retractable truncheon and a pair of handcuffs which were generally kept in the hut.  They will be there from 20th July to 22 August, a shorter period than usual due to the Euro.  The armed lifesavers come from the Police Nationale and wear tee-shirts with this marked on the back, so there are worries that they could become targets for terrorists in the same way as the policeman and his partner killed in Magnanville.  The attacks on the beach at Sousse in Tunisia are also another reason for giving them a gun so that they can act in case of a terrorist attack.

Anti-Occitanie petition gets 5000 signatures in 3 days

The opposition to the new name for the region put up a petition on change.org on Saturday 25th June which had received 7500 signatures by Tuesday 28th.  They are trying to get the name changed to include a reference to the Catalans as they say that they are not and never have been Occitan.

800 travellers’ caravans in the P-O

Over the weekend of 25th – 26th June, 700 caravans belonging to travellers arrived in the P-O bringing to 800 the total number in the department, a lot of them on the coast and in Perpignan.  350 are parked on private land as at Corneilla del Vercol and Montescot.  A minority have gone to the public areas provided for them and the others have parked in public spaces, such as the sports grounds at St Cyprien and the municipal stadium at Porte d’Espagne, where 100 caravans, 30 light vehicles and 40 vans are in situ.  They broke in according to the municipality which has made an official complaint and is intending to claim damages.  The mayor complained that they are in the middle of a maintenance period and that the community has to spend €400,000 a year repairing damage caused by travellers.  The new prefect, Philippe Vignes, said  “it is a complicated situation.  There are more people arriving, they are earlier than normal and they are all coming at the same time, so it is not surprising that they are not getting a warm welcome.  We are worried that we might see up to 1000 caravans this year.  It could be a difficult summer.  Warnings for illegal parking and other infractions have already been issued” and the prefect warns that he may have to authorise expulsions.  (There were 22 expulsions in 2015 and 9 since the beginning of 2016).  He added that he will reactivate the commission for travellers, as it has not met for several years and is far from reaching the objectives set for it with only 400 places provided out of 600 on parking areas.  But in the meantime he is meeting the mayors whose communities are affected to examine the situation and see if they can come up with a solution by using ground belonging to the State, as the parking areas provided are not always available due to work and are not always properly equipped.  He called for solidarity and a spirit of collaborative initiative to find a solution to a difficult situation.

4 children and a teenager saved from death by carbon monoxide poisoning

On the night of the 28th/29th June the emergency services were called to the cabin on the Pic de la Mine above Porté Puymorens for a young girl aged 9 who was vomiting and dizzy.  When they got there they found her, her 6 year old brother, 2 other kids aged 6 & 8 and a 16 year old all suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.  The only adult with them was a shepherd of 45 who hadn’t been poisoned.  The children were all taken to St Pierre in Perpignan to be treated.  The fumes came from the water heater in the cabin, and had set off an alarm in the living room of the shepherd’s hut.

Husband found guilty instead of wife

A man who filed a complaint against his Moroccan wife saying that she’d tricked him into marriage because she wanted the right to live in France found himself in court instead.  The man had met his wife on the internet, met her in Morocco and brought her to France.  But he refused to live properly with her, didn’t give her any material help and told her he didn’t want any children, even going so far as to give her contraceptives.  When she fell pregnant anyway he kicked her out and filed the complaint to get a divorce more easily.  According to the prosecution he married her because she wouldn’t sleep with him, and in actual fact he is a playboy who has children all over the place.  The court agreed and sentenced him to 2 months suspended sentence and €1000.  The wife is currently in a refuge for women in difficulty as she can’t return to Morocco where her family has rejected her.

Hang glider dies in Céret

A Perpignan man was hang gliding in the Tour de Guet Boularic area when he plunged into the forest on a rocky escarpment which was very difficult to get to.  His companions quickly called the emergency services and ran to find him unconscious.  He was dead by the time help arrived and his body was helicoptered out.

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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