NEWS FROM AROUND THE REGION
with Madeleine McMullin
Region’s 1st rurality contract in P-O
Jean-Nichel Baylet, Minister for Rurality and Regional Authorities came to Céret on 9th Dec to sign a contract of rurality. This new measure (in place in only 2 areas in France) brings together the State, the Department, and the federations of municipalities (communautés de commmunes) for Albères-Côtes Vermeille, Aspres, Haut-Vallespir, Vallespir and the Pays Pyrénées-Méditerranée. It will allow action to be taken in favour of rural zones in all areas of everyday life: access to services, to shops, mobility…
Cooperation for cross-border Catalan area
On 24th November, The Department of the P-O and the Diputació de Girona signed an outline agreement for the first time, making official their collaboration. A new project, ECTAdapt was also launched at the same meeting. Its objective: develop a common policy to reduce the cross-border area’s vulnerability to climate change. The project is being 65% funded by the European Regional Development Fund under the auspices of the POCTEFA 2014 – 2020 programme to strengthen economic and social integration between Spain, France and Andorra around the border.
Star grouper released in Marine Reserve
A grouper that had been in the Aquarium in Banyuls-sur-Mer for 10 years was released in to the marine reserve. It is fitted with a transmitter so that it can be tracked for 3 years. It has found a home within the reserve’s protection zone.
Department building for the future
10% of the current housing stock in the P-O is social housing, but with 21% of people in the department living below the poverty line (an income of less than €1000 per month), more is needed. The Council is investing in building housing and also standing guarantee for other organisations that want to build housing. The idea is that this helps stimulate the economy by providing jobs as well as housing. The council has also made it mandatory for any firms working on a public contract to take on unemployed people to work for them on it.
There are 2200km of departmental roads in the P-O and 62.5 tonnes of rubbish were removed from them in 2015. This included bottles, fast food packaging, rubble, tyres, white goods, plastic and even remains of palm trees that had been attacked by beetles. This took the department’s workers 1000 days of work and cost €220,000. There is a fine of up to €1500 for fly tipping and the vehicle can be confiscated.
End to Messmer affair
Jean Bastouil, aged 89, died on 17th January. The old man was found guilty in 2014 of the 2010 murder of his son-in-law in Rivesaltes. Jean-Charles Messmer was an anaesthetist in Perpignan. Bastouil admitted killing his son-in-law on the terrace of Mas Saint-Jean, but claimed that he had done so because the latter had given his daughter a lethal injection 2 years earlier. Bastouil was sentenced to 10 years but was released on health reasons pending an appeal which was supposed to go ahead in 2017. He was found fit to stand trial, as long as he was allowed to rest every 2 hours. His lawyer put his case one last time after his death: “People at the hospital said that his son-in-law had been trying to get hold of a product to kill his dog a few days before his wife’s death even though he had no dog. He did nothing to try to help his wife when she was dying, and the doctor who examined her after her death couldn’t be sure that it was a stroke. The policeman that was in charge of investigating her death gave evidence in court that he thought that Dr. Messmer had killed her. After her death the doctor brought his mistress to live in the house he had shared with his wife, opposite that of M. Bastouil.
Argelès lycée student in court for terrorism
A 20 year old Hospitality BTS student in Argelès-sur-Mer was in court in Montauban for threatening a school with an IS attack by Twitter. The student has no criminal record, no links with IS and does not have a Jihadi’s profile, but could not explain his actions. He opened a twitter account in his sister’s name and sent two messages saying that there would be an attack in a school and praising IS. He said it was a game and that he hadn’t thought it through. The trial was adjourned while he has psychiatric tests.
Tricycles for Perpignan street cleaners
Perpignan council has decided to use electric tricycles for street cleaning. These are cleaner, quieter, quicker than vans and environmentally friendly. They will be used in addition to street cleaning vehicles and dog-poo scooters.