by Madeleine McMullin

News from around the region, collated from local sources.

Armed threats and blows exchanged between an elected official and youths

An incident currently under investigation by the gendarmes took place in Banyuls sur Mer on 2nd June between a respected retired doctor who is on the town council and some young locals, also well-liked and active as young Sapeurs Pompiers.  The doctor, aged 67, came out of a restaurant in the centre of town and drove off.  There was a group of teenagers, several of whom were on mopeds and scooters in front of the town hall who, he said, were blocking his passage.  He caught one of the bikes with the car on the way past, rolled down his window and shouted some insults which were returned before carrying on.

Some of the boys, aged about 16, apparently followed him to his house to “fill in a constat (insurance accident form)” according to them.  The situation is alleged to have degenerated into mutual insults and blows before the pensioner went into his house and came out with a gun which the father of one of the boys claims he put against his son’s head, made him kneel down and apologise, before threatening to shoot another in the ankles, as a third rang the gendarmes.

The father has made a formal complaint to the police.  The pensioner who has also made a complaint for assault with a medical certificate to back him up, said that it was an alarm system that looked like a pistol, that he had told the kids that it wasn’t dangerous but that it would sting, and that his wife was scared and he felt helpless and in danger as he was being attacked by a pack.  He admits that he reacted badly.  He also said that as he was acting in a private capacity he didn’t see why it should affect his position as a councillor but that he would resign if there was any criticism at all.

The mayor said that he was very angry and upset by the affair.  He condemned violence but said that he knew the kids who are not hooligans; he’d seen both the parents and the town councillor and he would wait until the police investigation was over and the facts established before doing anything.

Communal land laid waste to enlarge a campsite

The campsite Paris-Roussillon had rented a half hectare of land from the municipality in Argelès-sur-Mer for decades until very recently when Capbreu, an association that restores the fountains in Argelès, found the wood on the fringes of the protected Zone Natura 2000 had been cut down.  The lease for the land contained a clause binding the tenant to maintain the space without building, degrading or especially not using it for commercial ends.  Contrary to this a lot of trees had been felled and there was equipment and even caravans on the land.  The council immediately revoked the lease and the campsite management have been ordered to restore the land to its former condition.  Proceedings are under way with the public prosecutor.

Recycling on the rise in the P-O over the last 6 months

From Oct 16 – Mar 17 the population of the P-O recycled an extra 880 tonnes – 579 of mixed recycling (paper, plastic, metal) and 301 of glass – bringing the totals to 13978 and 6470 tonnes respectively.  This is due in large part to the modernisation of the sorting centre at Calce last autumn at a cost of €1.2 million, €800,000 of which was paid for by Eco-Emballages.  One of the improvements was the addition of optical sorting for soft plastic.  This means that there is a very low “rate of impurities” in the final bales at 5% compared to 30% allowed in France.  Vincent Pujol, the sustainable development director at Sydetom66 (departmental syndicate for the transportation, treatment and value-creation of household waste  on the P-O) pronounced the organisation “very pleased” with the result.  There has also been a 2% reduction in the amount of mistakes by people putting recycling in the wrong container (glass in mixed and vice versa).

All 4 P-O constituencies pitch En Marche against the FN

The 2nd round of voting on 18th June will see La République en Marche candidates battling it out against the Front National in all 4 constituencies in the P-O.   In the first round of voting, en Marche candidates came first in all but the 2nd Constituency where Louis Aliot, the FN candidate scraped in with 1.69% more of the votes cast than the en Marche candidate.  It was also very close in the 3rd Constituency with 3.32% between the two highest placed candidates.  The biggest story was the number of abstentions with only around 50% of voters bothering to vote in all 4 constituencies.

Local bar owner blocks the station road

The owner of the Brasserie de la Gare was so fed up with the constant problems of people stealing from customers, staff being insulted, premises damaged and drug dealing that he parked his car across the road in front of the café to make the police turn up in an effort to get them to listen to him and the other business owners in the area.  The police duly showed up and talked to them while his car was towed to the local pound.


Chaos reigns in Perpignan prison

According to the union, Perpignan prison is on the brink of exploding.  3 mobiles and 13g of cannabis were found in searches on the way out of the visiting room on the 7th June, 64 male inmates are sleeping on the floor of the remand centre plus 6 being held in the disciplinary cells.  There are 15 9m² cells being occupied by 3 women each, 4 of whom are pregnant and 2 more in the disciplinary centre.  There is even a baby living in the middle of all this.  The staff cannot cope with the over-crowding and are facing exhaustion, burn-out and distress.  “How much longer can they keep up this frantic pace and guarantee safety?”

Running in pays Catalan

Mathias, a 22 year old student ran through the department and Dylan, a 23 year old master’s student filmed him in a zany film showing off the delights of the P-O .  Mathias acts out the part of a tourist leaving London and  becoming mixed up in a series of madcap events in various towns, villages and beaches around the area.  You can check out the video on Youtube

Plant olive trees not palms or pines

A lecturer and researcher based in Montpellier, Philippe Villemus has just published a book about the death of the Midi in which he discusses the changes to the area within a 50km band from the Mediterranean.  One of his themes among other things is that we need to plant lots of trees to keep the area healthy.  But he is against the number of palm trees and pines that are being planted rather than the olive trees, evergreen oaks, hackberries etc. that are native to the region.   He argues that the pine trees in particular are killing the soil by making it acidic.  He would also like people to stop planting lawns which use too much water.

Madeleine McMullin

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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