with Madeleine McMullin

Cable car in Perpignan – a good idea?

The ADE (agency for economic development) along with the CCI (Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and UPE (Union for Companies) has prepared a preliminary dossier proposing a cable car in Perpignan.  The project would cost €8-15 million and would have to be adopted by the council at which point there would be more studies to firm up the budget and feasibility. The ADE believes that to have an innovative mode of transport would create a positive image for the town  and would make give its inhabitants something to be proud of.  If it went ahead, a public consultation would take place in 2017. Work on the 8km of track would take approximately 3 years with the cable car entering service in 2021 – 2023. According to the agency a cable car would be two times less polluting than a tramway and 7 times less than the bus. Underground railways and tramways would also be a lot more expensive to build.


The President of the region, Carole Delga, has met Hugues de Francesco, the Al Chemist singer in the Region’s offices in Perpignan. The meeting was deemed cordial by both sides, and Ms Delga commented on the affection that she has for the “Pays Catalan” and what she had done for the department including the teaching of Catalan and the yellow train. However she refused to budge on the name for the department, saying that Occitanie was not just a territory where Occitan is spoken but a Latin translation for the states of Languedoc. This obviously did not convince the Al Chemist member who is planning on fighting on and will take part in the demonstration on 10th September. He said that the problem was that rather than bringing people together, Occitanie is divisive, and that the Catalans refuse to be wiped from the map. He admitted that the Catalans should have voted in larger numbers and fought harder  before the vote but said that it seemed overwhelming, as there were so many more Occitans than Catalans in the new region. He added that they were going to make some noise before the Conseil d’Etat meeting on the 1st October.

Wine harvest drops 9% in Languedoc Roussillon

The minister for Agriculture announced on Thursday 25th that wine production was on course to be 9% lower in Languedoc Roussillon compared to last year, due to the climatic conditions this year which include spring frost, winds and drought, as well as damage from hail. This is a smaller drop than in Charentes where it is estimated that it will be down by around 16%. The harvest is a week later than the average over the last 10 years.

VISA pour l’image starts 27th August

22 exhibitions are open to the public until 11th September, although for security reasons there are only 6 exhibition venues this year, as opposed to the usual 9. They are open from 10am to 8pm with the exception of the Couvent des Minimes which opens at 2pm. Entry is free.

Calvet writes to Valls about Occitannie

The Senator and Mayor of Le Soler, Mr. Calvet has written to Manuel Valls asking him to share the emotion being felt in the P-O because of the choice of Occitannie as the name for the new region, and appealing to his Catalan roots. Mr. Valls replied that the government would consider the question in line with the process that had been put in place, and said that he had forwarded Mr. Calvet’s letter to both Bernard Cazenove, the minister for the interior and Ms Delga, the president of the region.

Le Boulou first town in the P-O to sign up to a municipal “mutuelle”

ACTIOM (Mutualisation Action to Improve Buying Power) working with “ma Commune, ma Santé” (my commune, my health) is offering a way to get a “mutuelle” top insurance policy for those who do without one due to financial constraints. Interested communes sign an agreement with the association, and then provide a place to meet with the locals. The town halls do not have to get involved in either the contracts or their management. The fact that the association buys in bulk means that the top up insurance is between 20 & 30% lower depending on the person’s age. There are also 3 levels of guarantee to choose from, with insurance cover from 3 different companies: Miel, Pavillon Prévoyance and Ma Santé Solidaire. The association also undertakes to renegotiate the fees or to move companies should prices rise too much in future. So far 1233 communes in France have signed up, with Le Boulou the first in the P-O.

Le Point awards for clinics

Le Point, a health magazine, has published a list of the top private and public hospitals and clinics in France. The St Roch Clinic in Cabestany came in 30th in the private list for treatment of prostate and bladder cancer and knee replacements amongst other things, the St Pierre, 35th for the treatment of heart attacks, and some cancers such as breast, colon and intestine. Perpignan hospital was in 13th place on the public list for the treatment of infectious diseases. The hospital in Thuir was 6th for the treatment of schizophrenia. In response the head of the hospital in Thuir said that he was not running a football team and that whilst the award was gratifying, it did not take into account the human side of the treatment of patients which could not be expressed in numbers. He had much more confidence in the certification awarded by the official authorities.

Terror drills for school kids

All school children in the P-O are to take part in simulated exercises to prepare for terror attacks. These will differ depending on the age of the children with the youngest playing games aimed at training them. Children in Troisième will be trained in first aid. The school inspectorate will be notified of all school trips and will rule on their suitability.

More torn nets within the 3 mile limit

Smaller fishermen are calling for urgent action after yet another net was torn by a trawl within the 3 mile limit inside the marine reserve, where trawlers are forbidden to fish. They claim that it is affecting their livelihood and in some cases their financial viability. The Vice President of the Federation of Petit Métiers de Languedoc Roussillon complained that it was well known that the trawlers started fishing within the limits but they were never cautioned or fined, so they did not care. The federation is demanding an urgent meeting with the Prefect.
The owner of the net that was torn this time went to see the trawler owner asking for compensation for the net and the 3 days lost work that it represents. He also made a formal complaint to the police. That night he went and blocked the trawler which was trying to go to sea in the presence of the gendarmes whom he had invited to be witnesses. The trawler owner then also made a formal complaint to the police.

With a little help from her friends

Anne Julia has Chiari syndrome (a rare condition that affects the spinal column and stops her standing up for too long), but she had always dreamed of climbing the Canigou. A group of her friends decided to make it happen. They borrowed an all terrain chair that weighs 32kg empty from Courir 66 and all of her friends and family joined together to get her up to the cross from Les Cortalets. It took 3 hours and 40 minutes but they made it to the applause of the other people up there. It then took 2 hours and 40 minutes to get back down. Anne said “I was so happy to be up there. It was a unique moment. Life is not about power or money but about love and friendship”. They were treated to a cargolade (mass eating of snails) when they got back to the refuge whether they stayed the night; some of them in tents and Anne Julia inside with a friend.

Panic in Perpignan

4 men armed and in masks crossed the rue de Cardeurs in Perpignan causing a moment of panic. It turned out to be the filming of a video about which the authorities had been alerted and the local shopkeepers had also been told. The police received a lot of panicked calls from the public and people also posted on social media.

Argeles man wants €10,000 compensation

An error in measurement meant that the Community of Communes had fenced off 3m² of Mr. Georges’ land for 3 years in return for which Mr. Georges wants €10,000 in compensation. In 2013, he bought a parcel of land in the middle of some other land belonging to the town but rented by the Community of Communes. The surveyor who was setting out the boundaries realised that the land was 3m² smaller than it should be as there was already a temporary building on it. It was agreed that the land would be returned to Mr. Georges once the building had been taken down. This finally happened on 18th July 2016. Mr. Georges is demanding €5,000 from the town and €5,000 from the CofC. The mayor is saying that the town would not have sold the land if it had been down to them and that the mix up is nothing to do with them. The CoC is saying that they have asked for an evaluation of the rent for the years that they occupied it and the matter is now in the hands of the lawyers who are looking for an amicable agreement.

Occupation of ex-gendarme barracks in Elne

3 men are living in one of the flats in the old gendarme barracks in Elne. The 3 moved in when 2 of them were evicted from the flat where they had been living. One of them was unable to pay his rent after a long period of illness. The other was staying with him. The third lost his job in March and had been living in his car since then. All of them are registered unemployed and cannot afford the deposit required to rent a place. The door had already been forced when they arrived, so they did not break anything, simply moved in. The men do not want to be considered squatters as they want to pay the rent and charges, and they have the support of the head of PC66, Nicolas Garcia, who said that there are 5000 less HLM (social housing units) than are needed in the department. The town hall has sent workers into solder shut the gates and cut off the water. The 3 men tried to get the electricity connected but the supplier would not do it when he saw that the gates had been soldered.

Prison for Terrorist Threats

The ex-employee of an event organiser who wrote anonymous letters threatening terrorist attacks at local events, and also threatened the ex-employer’s family, was sentenced to 7 months suspended with various other terms: 2 years probation, the requirement to be treated, to either work or go on a training course, to repair the damage done and not to contact the civil parties. He also had to pay Frontera, the events organiser €1000 for slander, plus €500 to the director for moral prejudice and €500 to each of the 6 other civil parties. He harboured a grudge against his ex-employer for not renewing his contract in 2014.

Suspected murderer taken to crime scene

The suspected murderer of Erika who was stabbed aged 17 has been taken back to the Maillol Park in Perpignan a year after she was found with her throat cut. The suspect is 19 years old and is the ex-boyfriend of Erika. He had to go through his last meeting with her step by step.

Caught stealing cannabis

3 youths who were partying with friends in Vernet Les Bains decided to break into a shop and steal 25 cannabis plants that they knew the owner to be growing under the shop. A neighbour alerted the police who turned up as they drove away, but got the car registration number. The 3 stashed the drugs, then panicked and the driver went to the police to report his car stolen. He was arrested and he appeared in court with one of the others on Tuesday 30th August. The third is a minor and will come in front of the youth court. The driver claimed that he was not after money but vengeance as the shopkeeper had lured him into taking hard drugs when he was only 15. He was given 18 months with no parole and will serve a further 6 from a previous suspended sentence. His mate will serve 8 months with the possibility of parole. The owner of the plants is also in trouble with the authorities.


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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