by Madeleine McMullin
News from around the region, collated from local sources.
Husband in coma following gun attack in Elne
A couple were just paying for a coffee in the centre of Elne on Saturday 13th May when they saw a man attack a friend of theirs who was smoking outside the cafe. The husband went to his aid and managed to overcome the assailant who then threw the wife to the ground. The man then left and came back with a gun which he cocked and pointed at the wife. When her husband tried to defend her, he turned the gun on him and fired 4 times, and then again twice in his back when he fell to the ground. He was then in the process of putting the gun to the husband’s head, when the friend came running and the bullet just grazed his skull. He threw the gun to the ground in front of the wife and left at a run. The gunman was arrested that afternoon and is remanded in custody under investigation for attempted murder. The husband is in a very serious condition and it is not sure if he will pull through. The couple who are popular in Elne seem dogged by bad luck. One of their sons has a genetic illness and their disabled daughter was due to celebrate her 18th birthday with a big party which has been postponed.
No pay or redundancy for employees
The 24 employees in Perpignan of SM Clean, a Toulouse-based cleaning company that won a contract with the Perpignan town hall have not been paid for 2 months. They have been unable to get in touch with the company by phone, email or letter. Some of the employees are having to go soup kitchens to feed their families, and others do not know whether they will be able to carry on paying the rent. The departmental secretary of the FO (Force ouvrière – one of the big 5 unions in France) has put the affair in the hands of their lawyer who is checking whether the firm has gone into liquidation and will go to the Prud’hommes for compensation.
Perpignan introduces bylaw for stray cats
The town of Perpignan has passed a municipal bylaw allowing stray cats to be picked up by associations which have registered with the town. The cats will be neutered and then returned to the place they were found. This is to try to limit problems caused by them breeding, spreading feline diseases, fighting and caterwauling. Any associations that would like to take part have been invited to contact the town hall.
New speed camera on the A9
A camera was put in place on Wednesday 17th in the section of roadworks between Le Boulou and Le Perthus, as a lot of HGVs and other vehicles have been speeding. The camera can distinguish between the different types of vehicle and apply the correct speed limit for each. There is a warning sign before you reach it.
Home ownership in the P-O
Insee, the government statistics office, has published stats on how we live in the P-O. There are 333,363 dwellings and over 60% of them are owner-occupied. This is slightly more than the average in Occitanie, but less than the 63.3% in the Aude. The percentage of owners is particularly high in the communes around the centre of Perpignan. Cabestany, Pollestres and Le Soler make up more than 70% of the total. On the other hand, Perpignan only has 42.7% owner-occupiers. The other number of note is the more than 95,000 second homes (28.5% compared to 15.7% in Occitanie). These are mainly clustered around the coast and in the mountains with 86% in Le Barcarès, 92% in Les Angles to name a couple but only 1% in St Estève. Despite the reputation as a department crippled by poverty, there are very few people living in social housing in the P-O: only 7.6% compared to 8.6% regionally. However there are big disparities between communes with some such as Cabestany with more than 16% and others such as Argelès and Canet a lot lower at 3.3% and 4.4% respectively.
Lost Canigó walker found dead
A walker who disappeared on Friday 15th May was found dead on Monday just as a massive search put in place after his friends sounded the alert on Saturday was being called off. He was found lying in the snow in a valley on the west slope of the mountain.
Thuir boxer champion of the world
Angélique Duchemin who boxes at the club in Thuir was already double champion of English-style boxing in France and in Europe when she beat Erika Rousseau of Royan to become world champion.
Drunk hitch hiker steals car
On the 9th May a driver stopped to pick up a hitch hiker on the RN116. The 25 year old woman asked if he had a cigarette paper so she could roll a fag. He stopped at Marquixanes to try to find a few papers and she grabbed the wheel and sped away with the car. The gendarmes managed to stop the car at Bouleternère and the girl owned up. She did not have a licence and was under the influence of alcohol. She has been freed pending trial.