AND HERE IS THE NEWS…
….a quick glance at the latest local news with Caroline Manson
‘Summer’ fire in Torreilles
We are sadly accustomed to seeing vegetation fires during the long hot summer months, but on 5th February nearly 60 hectares of vegetation went up in smoke between Torreilles and Sainte-Marie-la-Mer. 170 firefighters and 60 vehicles were mobilised but the high winds and dry terrain made their work extremely difficult. Seven people were evacuated and several firefighters were slightly injured before the fire was under control – but even during the heavy rains of Monday morning, smoke could still be seen.
Demonstration against Pension Reforms
Around 10,000 people marched through Perpignan on Saturday to protest against the proposed new pension reforms. The rally was mainly peaceful, marked only by shouts of anger by some of the crowd queuing for the ‘traditional’ pre-protest barbecue at the foot of the Castillet when they discovered that there was a shortage of Merguez sandwiches.
Mystery of gunshots in Haut-Vernet
On Saturday afternoon a biker was seen riding on a large scooter at low speed along Rue Rosa Bonheur near the hospital and Gilbert-Brutus stadium. Witnesses saw him aiming a gun and firing six or seven times towards parked vehicles and house facades, before driving away. Luckily there were no injuries and police are carrying out house to house surveys in an attempt to discover the identity of the mystery gunman.
Teenager injured in ski accident
A 16 year old from Céret was skiing in Les Angles when he fell down a black run. During the fall he punctured his abdomen with his ski stick and was discovered traumatised and vomiting. The mountain rescue team and a Samu doctor treated him on site before he was taken by helicopter to Perpignan hospital.
Animals in appalling condition found in ‘puppy’ farm.
Following reports, police and animal charities investigated a property in the Porte d’Espagne area of Perpignan and discovered animals living in terrible conditions. It was purported to be a dog-breeding business but 27 dogs and puppies (some just a few days old) were living in cold and unhealthy conditions. Four horses were also found to be malnourished and neglected. All the animals have been taken away by local animal charities and police are continuing their investigations, hopefully leading to a prosecution as the owner of the property is already known to the police. This is the first case of its kind since the appointment of an ‘Animal Abuse’ investigator at Perpignan Police station.
90 year old man wins annual vine pruning competition
Around 50 participants, including winegrowers, employees or farmers, were in a vineyard plot in Nyls this Saturday for the annual departmental vineyard pruning competition. Although there is an ‘Under 21’ category, sadly each year there are fewer and fewer young candidates – this year less than 10. The overall winner was 90 year old Paco Fila, who was the first ever winner when the competition was created in 1972!
Cannabis hidden in compost
Customs officers in Le Perthus intercepted a truck arriving from Spain on the A9 motorway, and the driver declared that he was carrying 22 pallets of compost en route for Germany. The trailer did have several ‘big bags’ filled with compost but the officials were not convinced and decided to check the load with a probe. Hidden in the compost were many heat-sealed bags containing cannabis grass. In total 340 kilos of drugs were seized, with a street value of 595,000€. The driver was sentenced to 3 years in prison, a fine of 595,000€ and banned from French territory for 5 years.
A few years ago 35 year old Fiona was visiting her grandmother in a retirement home. Doctors had told her that her grandmother was dying – so rather than leave her there, full of medication and counting the hours staring at a white wall, Fiona decided to take her 100 year old grandmother on a final trip. This ‘trip’ was a 2 year road trip around Europe in a motorhome – 15,000 kilometres on the roads of Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes, Andorra, and Portugal. They were on their way to Eastern Europe but on the way the old lady died peacefully in her sleep. Fiona and her mother are now campaigning to change society’s views on old age and are visiting retirement homes all over France to tell their story – this week they were in Perpignan. At the end of their tour they will be received by the National Assembly in Paris.