AND HERE IS THE NEWS…
….a quick glance at the latest local news with Caroline Manson
Fire risk warning
The Préfecture has issued a fire risk warning for the next few days, which is very unusual for what the newspaper describes as ‘the heart of winter’ . The drought conditions and the strong gusts of wind expected over the weekend and the early part of next week means that a simple bonfire could very quickly cause a wildfire. The prefecture reminds the public that anybody discovered to have caused a fire is liable to a fine of 15,000€ and possible imprisonment.
Man accused of running over his ex-wife and son
A motorist in Moyen-Vernet deliberately crashed into two pedestrians, leaving them badly injured. One was his ex-wife, the other was his 14 year old son. The mother and son spent several days in hospital, but as it was a total of less than 8 days, the defence lawyer asked that the man be charged with “voluntary violence with weapons”. The president of the court decided otherwise and he will now be be tried for attempted murder.
Refuse collectors on strike
Rubbish bins are overflowing and household waste is littering the pavements of several towns in and around Perpignan as the rubbish collectors continue their strike. Perpignan, Saint-Estève, Rivesaltes, Canohès, Bompas, Cabestany and Saint-Hippolyte are among the towns most affected. On Tuesday several lorries blocked the main municipal technical centre, preventing the trucks from starting their collection rounds. The strikers are demanding the implementation of restaurant tickets, an advancement of rank and promotion, an increase in the driver premium, an increase in staff, the return of weekly yellow bin collections and the abolition of the obligation to wear helmets.
5 villages without drinking water
In further drought news, four municipalities are now having to provide cisterns and bottled water as residents can no longer drink the tap water. These villages are Bouleternère, Saint-Michel-de-Llotes, Corbère and Corbère-les-Cabanes. This situation has never before happened in winter, and forty other municipalities in the Pyrènèes-Orientales are under surveillance.
Latest drugs seize at Le Perthus
Drugs smugglers seem to think of the most unlikely hiding places to carry drugs, but customs officers are becoming more and more suspicious. Last week at Le Perthus officers decided to check out a ‘suspicious’ vehicle – a car registered in the Czech Republic, coming from Barcelona. The driver, from Slovenia, stated that he had been on holiday and was returning home to Slovenia. The customs officers decided to make a thorough search of the vehicle, and having dismantled the dashboard with the aid of a pick-axe they delivered several plastic bags containing 4kg of cocaine, hidden behind the radio. The driver was sentenced to 30 months in prison, a 5 year ban on entering the country and a fine of 300,000€
New speed limit for Perpignan?
As part of an investigation into lowering the city’s carbon footprint, it has been proposed that the speed limit in the entire urban area be reduced to 30kmh. Several people have already pointed out that it will be very complicated on the major axes such as Boulevard Mercader, so there may be two or three exceptions. It has already been voted that from 1st January 2025, the most polluting cars will be banned from driving in Perpignan, although the Mayor rests firm that he “does not want the famous Crit’Air 3”. Perpignan has recently been designated the worst agglomeration in France, among the 40 largest, in terms of bicycle or public transport use. The car remains the number one means of transport in the city.
More motorway blocakges
Spanish farmers mobilised in force last Tuesday and Wednesday and completely closed the A9 between La Jonquera all the way to the Aude. Vehicles remained blocked for many hours, and there were also huge delays on the alternative routes such as the D900. They have promised to keep up the pressure with new demonstrations on Tuesday 13th February. No details have yet been released but if your are travelling, it might be advisable to avoid the major routes if possible. While the local French farmers are protesting against cheap imports from Spain, the Spanish farmers are complaining about cheap imports from Non-EU countries (such as Morocco), among other things. A third protest is planned on Wednesday 21st February but it is expected that tractors from all over the country will head to Madrid.
In May last year, while the region was on ‘high fire risk’ alert, a man was seen throwing a burning paper onto dry vegetation in a field near Montner. The witness managed to put out the fire, and noticed that the perpetrator was driving off in a car bearing the logo of the Conseil Municipale. Gendarmes quickly traced the driver, who worked for the water management department, and he faced court this week. The 53 year old man was ordered to pay 1000euros to the SDIS66 (local fire department). The man’s only defence was that he wanted to experience what it felt like to be a pyromaniac. He has also resigned from being a volunteer fire-fighter…