with Madeleine McMullin

Super League supporters help the local economy

Two thirds of the supporters of the teams that come to play the Catalan Dragons in the Super League prefer to give Perpignan a miss and spend the weekend on the Costa Brava, and the local hotels have a hard time competing with the Spanish prices.  However local businesses still benefit to the tune of about €1.5 million per year from those who do base themselves in France as well as supporters coming in early on the day of the match and eating and drinking in the area. The local tourist office works with  tour operators and also advertises directly to the fans to encourage this.


Nineteen motoring contraventions on Easter Monday

About 20 gendarmes were stationed on the  roads leading in from Spain on Easter Monday checking drivers for motoring offences, and 19 people were fined for different offences (drink driving, driving without a licence or an up to date Contrôle Technique).


Rapper R Can sets the words flowing in Perpignan prison

R Can, a French rapper, has been holding a workshop in Perpignan prison, working with a  small group of male inmates to allow them to develop their own songs and then perform in front of the rest of the prisoners.  This follows on from a workshop held over the winter with a group of female inmates.   The same formula is used in various places around France, the idea being to help the prisoners gain some confidence and self-respect, as well as improve their morale.


Jim Harrison, American writer dies

Jim Harrison who wrote Legends of the Fall has died aged 78.  The writer had a connection with the area as he came to Collioure after his wife died and slept in the hotel where the poet Antonio Machado died.  He published a novella about Collioure and Machado in 2006.  He also praised the region’s wine in an interview with the Wine Spectator.


A new mayor for Argeles

Antoine Parra has been elected mayor of Argeles, replacing Pierre Ayaglas who was mayor for 15 years.  When interviewed by the Independent, he said that his priorities remained the same as the previous incumbent’s: bringing life back to the village, improving connections between the different sectors to allow people to move around easily and improving everyone’s quality of life.


David Guetta returns to Le Barcares

David Guetta, currently one of the most successful DJs on the planet will return to the Electrobeach festival at Le Barcares this summer.  He first performed there 3 years ago, and since then the festival has grown to be the 4th largest music festival in France, with 140,000 spectators in 2015.  Guetta is currently touring to promote his Euro 2016 official anthem.


Cémoi to launch a premium export chocolate

Cémoi is conducting research alongside Cirad (agronomic research for development) and the Lallemand Group, one of the world leaders in production and selling of yeasts and bacteria destined for the agro-alimentation market.  The aim is to develop a chocolate, codenamed “Frenchoc premium” which will have its flavour profile managed through the whole of its production in the same way as the wine producers do.  The firm is investing €2 million in the project which is aimed at the specific demands of the American and Asian markets.


Pompier services to remain free in the P-O

Calvados is the latest department to start charging for certain call outs judged abusive or not emergencies, but the pompiers in the P-O will not be following suit.  They currently charge for certain activities such as removing wasp nests from areas judged not to be at risk, such as a rarely visited part of the bottom of the garden, as opposed to your bedroom from where it will be removed without charge, but will not be adding to the list.  The unions on the other hand would like to see nuisance call outs charged for to discourage people who ring up expecting a lift to the hospital because their contractions have started or similar non-urgent cases.


€90,000 withdrawn from dead pensioner’s account

An old lady who died in 1991 continued to have her pension paid into her account until 2008, a total of €180,000, at which point a bank employee realised and started withdrawing money.  €49,000 was transferred in 3 transactions, then €41,000 was withdrawn as cash on 17 separate occasions.  The bank only realised in 2011 when all the security tapes had been destroyed.  They narrowed it down to an employee who had withdrawn money from accounts that he’d created for his family and ex-girlfriend.  He at first denied it, but then owned up that he had taken the money into the accounts in return for a commission from his ex.  He claimed to have had €10,000 in total to which he added another €12000 which he’d taken from a different client in 2005, but in total €66,000 had disappeared.  His ex-girlfriend denies everything.  Yes she owns property and paid back loans without ever withdrawing money from her own account, but she explains that by way of gifts from her family and the evidence against her is very thin.  The verdict will be returned on the 3rd May; the ex-employee’s lawyer is pleading for clemency, saying that the bank was negligent, and his client should only be condemned for what he has actually done.  The ex-girlfriend’s lawyer claims that the ex-employee is attempting to put his crime onto his blameless client.


Perpignan Lycées’ success rate

The Education nationale has just published a list of the local lycées’ success rate in the bac in 2015.  Top in the region was St Louis de Gonzague in Perpignan with a 100% pass rate.  Pierre de Courbetin in Font Romeu came next with 97%, however the latter overtook the former with a +4 for adding value (a measure that is calculated by scoring the likely percentage based on the social background of the school’s pupils compared with the actual result) compared with a +2 for St Louis.  Ste Louise de Marillac came 3rd with 96% passing and a +3 for added value.


Plans to transfer beds from Banyuls, Cerbère and Arles rejected by the State

The bitterly disputed transfer of rehabilitation facilities was thought to have been put to bed and the Town of Perpignan had gone ahead and spent €500,000 on land to the north of the current complex that was occupied by Gifi and La Halle aux Chaussures.  However the government has now intervened and forbidden the development because of the risk of flooding.  Nobody was available for comment on the situation which throws into confusion plans to create a single centre of care for elderly and other patients needing post-hospital care.


Verdict awaited for members of Perpignan’s basketball club

Three members of the club, including the ex-president were up before the judges for having organised illegal games of bingo.  One of them had already been found guilty in 2006 for the same activity and therefore left the room whenever the bingo nights were discussed.  The 3 did not benefit personally from the nights which were held 4 times a year, open to the general public and which nobody from the club actually attended.  But the organisation of any lottery or game of chance is strictly regulated and the club broke the rules.  Prosecutors are demanding fines and suspended sentences for all but the person previously found guilty who is facing a prison sentence, and the authorities want €1,922,729 in unpaid gambling taxes from the club which made on average €8000 per evening.


Company boss found guilty of bullying

The owner of a company in Saleilles was sentenced to a year’s suspended sentence, a fine of €15,000 and €32,000 in damages and interest to 12 employees for bullying and bad treatment of his staff.  He refused to answer the claims in court, saying that everything was lies and false statements.  He was accused of a long list of degrading propositions, humiliating and repeated insults, harmful texts and emails etc by 18 employees in a joint action, but 6 of them had their cases dismissed for procedural reasons.


7 victims of crash on N11 at Figueres

A crash which killed 7 people was caused by a young man from Perpignan driving without a licence, which he had had taken away for drunk driving and speeding.  He and the 4 passengers in his car were all known to the police for various offences such as pedalling drugs, violence and theft.  One of the occupants had €7000 and 2 bottles of vodka on him.  None of them were wearing a seat belt.  The car skidded and crashed into a Spanish car, killing the 2 passengers and badly injuring the driver.  All 5 people in the French car were killed.


French wine makers blockade the A9

Around 100 wine makers from the Aude and Pyrenees Orientales met at the North Perpignan exit on the A9 and partially emptied  a tank of red wine and one of white before setting off in a convoy for Le Boulou to try to stop tankers transporting Spanish wine across the border.  They are not happy because Spanish wine sells for half the price of French wine.


Property sales up by 5 & 10%

Property sales rebounded in the first quarter of 2016 with an increase of sales on the coast and in the mountains of between 5 and 10% according to the president of the FNAIM of the P-O which represents 2 out of 5 estate agencies.  Sales in Perpignan were a little less buoyant and prices were stable across the territory.


Hoteliers protest about AirBnB

Local hoteliers want the communes to guard against the proliferation of non-registered lettings in the area, claiming an unfair advantage by the likes of AirBnB etc.  They are demanding that there should be rules which the “collaborative” sector should abide by, namely that they should only be allowed to rent for a minimum 7 nights, be forbidden to go over 52 days per year, have to be registered and that the sites where they advertise should be made to check that anyone registered with them respects their legal obligations.


Front National losing elected members

7 of the 24 Front National representatives elected in the municipal elections of 2014 have left the party complaining of a  lack of communication and bad treatment.  Louis Aliot, the interim departmental secretary, as well as Xavier Baudry, a municipal and regional councillor, seem to be a catalyst for the discontent and defections.


Shortlist of regional names announced

The shortlist of 8 names for the region has been announced by the consultative committee.  The next stage which will happen on 15th April is for the region to choose which to put forward to the electorate for consultation.  The final name will be chosen by the council on 24 June and put forward for adoption by the government.  The 8 names on the shortlist are: Languedoc, Terre d’Oc, Occitanie, Pyrénées-Méditerranée, Languedoc-Pyrénées, Pays d’Oc, Midi, Occitanie-Roussillon.


Cigarette smugglers arrested

A man found with 565 packets of cigarettes on the back seat of his car and a further 1000 concealed elsewhere in the vehicle worth in total €10,000, claimed that the fags on the backseat were from Andorra and for his own personal consumption and that he didn’t know about the hidden packs which he said must have been put there by the car’s owner who had lent him the vehicle.  The owner and a third individual were also arrested.  The latter is suspected of being the head of the smuggling ring.  The statements of all 3 Perpignan based men were pretty far-fetched and contradictory and they are all already known to the police.  They were due in court on Monday 4th April.


Confirmation that Corbières water reserves are renewable

Henri Salvayre, a hydro-geologist has succeeded in proving that the vast reservoirs of water under the Corbières are refilled by the rain.  The underground lakes have been known about for a long time, but it has been forbidden to tap into them, at least in the Aude,  although the Pyrénées-Orientales does allow wells to be dug.  The presence of CFC and tritium (from Chernobyl and the French nuclear tests ?!) proves that the water is less than 50 years old.  A committee has been set up to explore ways to use the water for local agriculture in the 2 departments, but it is still very early days.


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…….

Leave a Comment