AND HERE IS THE NEWS…
….a quick glance at the latest local news with Caroline Manson
Domestic dispute ends in flames
Firefighters and gendarmes had to intervene last Saturday when a domestic dispute between a married couple in their sixties nearly ended in disaster. During the argument the man had thrown a chair at his wife, who then sought refuge with the neighbours, and while she was out the husband set fire to the sofa. The flames quickly spread, destroying the interior of the house, and the adjoining garage containing two cars. The man was arrested and ordered to be sent for psychiatric tests.
Perpignan Hospital saturated with Covid patients
All the beds in intensive care reserved for Covid-19 patients are occupied and the hospital is now having to set up beds in offices and in the recovery rooms. The staff say that they are exhausted – and the position is not helped by the fact that many of the staff themselves are on sick leave. More than 90% of the Covid patients in intensive care are not vaccinated.
Census population figures published
The office of statistics (INSEE) has published the results of the census taken in 2019 and it shows the population of the Pyrénées-Oriéntales is 479,979 – up by 17,274 from the last census. The department ranks 4th in the Occitanie region in terms of population – half of whom are concentrated around Perpignan and along the N116 to Prades. The census was carried out before the pandemic so it will be interesting to see how the influx of Parisians and residents of other large cities will affect the next figures.
Brinks security truck breaks down
A major traffic jam was caused on Monday when a cash transport truck broke down while driving between the prison and the Serrat d’en Vaquer roundabout. In addition to a tow truck it was necessary to call another armoured truck to recover the money stored in the broken down vehicle – a delicate operation which required the aid of several armed police officers to secure the transfer of funds.
Covid outbreak at Perpignan prison
Nearly a hundred cases of Covid-19 were detected in Perpignan prison over Christmas weekend – more than 80 among the inmates and 14 on the supervisors’ side. The situation is becoming increasingly difficult to manage because the prison is already overcrowded so it is difficult to isolate the infected prisoners. In some cells, three inmates share nine square meters and elsewhere there are 72 mattresses on the floor.
Officials vote against re-installing the Rivesaltes sundial
The sundial ‘artwork’ installed on the Rivesaltes traffic island at the entrance to the péage in 2014 was damaged by the Yellow-Vest protestors, and was considered to be in a dangerous condition. The cost of reinstalling it has been estimated at 450,000€ euros – the original cost of the piece was 230,000€ but apparently the inflated cost is due to increased costs of certain materials such as steel. The officials held a secret ballot and voted against the project. The artist is threatening to sue, and officials are now trying to recoup costs from Axa insurance, and also from the Yellow-Vest protesters if they can be found and prosecuted.
Scooter accident in Amélie-les-Bains
A young man was riding his electric scooter along the Avenue du Vieux-Pont when he lost control, hit the parapet and tipped over into the void, falling nearly 4 metres into the waters of the River Tech. First aiders arriving at the scene were able to pull him from the water but as the area was so difficult to access it took 15 firefighters and the GRIMP (special mountain rescue) team to get him back up to the road level. He was taken by helicopter to Perpignan hospital, suffering from several fractures of his legs.
Blue crab alert
A major study will be launched in the coming months to try to limit the spread of the blue crab, a species from America that has invaded the lagoons of the P-O for several years and is now increasingly being found in the sea. This crab devours other species in the lagoons and ransack the fishermen’s nets. It is also a very aggressive species with very sharp claws. Part of the study will involve deploying 30 nets every day in Canet Lagoon so that the Banyuls-sur-Mer Oceanological Observatory can study the size of the problem.
While celebrating New Year’s Eve with fireworks and large public gatherings have been banned this year due to Covid regulations, there is one tradition that the authorities have not managed to stop – car burning. A total of 874 cars have been set alight in various city suburbs in France during the celebrations this year – although the Minister for the Interior was pleased to announce that the figure was much lower than in 2019!