with Madeleine McMullin

“Police citadel” planned

A new police headquarters is being planned for the officers of the Perpignan commissariat (357), the judicial police, the border police (400) and internal security.  The outgoing prefect has asked for a study to be carried out into uniting all of these 800+ officers currently situated in outdated offices around Perpignan.  The proposed site is at Moyen Vernet at the CRS 58, where the old police training school shut in 2009 and the squad numbers have also been cut leaving the 23000m² grounds largely unoccupied.  The police are hoping that the “citadel” progresses faster than the equivalent for the judiciary which has been pending a decision between a new building in the station area or a renovation and extension of the existing premises for years.


One year of prison for 248 cartons of cigarettes

An unemployed man who had been stopped on the way in to Andorra with €6000 tried to escape from customs officers on the way back into France but was forced to halt when they punctured his tyres twice with spikes.  He was found with 248 cartons of cigarettes and has been sentenced to a year in prison, €17360 custom’s fines, a €1000 fine for refusing to stop and the confiscation of the merchandise and his car.  He will appeal the decision which was even more severe than that asked for by the prosecutor.


Southern Catalans banned from vote for region’s name

The Southern Catalans voted massively for Occitanie-Pays Catalan in the local press polls following a tweet from the secretary general of the Unitat Catalana party who is also the deputy mayor of Perpignan.  However they will not be allowed to vote in the official poll as anyone who does so has to have a French mobile phone number.  The “Occitanie-Pays Catalan” supporters are up in arms as the unfairness of this.  as anyone in the rest of France is free to vote, even if they don’t live in the region.  They are saying that the vote should be restricted to people that are registered inhabitants of the new region.


First cherries from Céret arrive on the presidential table

cherry_PNG3090 (1) The first cherries from Céret were delivered to the Prefect of the P-O by the mayor of Céret on the 11th May for her to taste a sample before sending them on by plane to the President.  The same ceremony has taken place every year for the last 84 years.


Landslide damages Yellow Train line

Heavy rain in Cerdagne caused old embankments around the clinic La Solane to crumble and displaced 3000m³ of earth and trees onto the road out of Osséja to Nahuja.  The road was shut off whilst it was cleared and made safe.  The GR10, the walking route across the Pyrenees was also cut.  Luckily nobody was out at the time due to the rain so there were no injuries.  The landslide carried away a hundred metres of train track.  The rest of the slope is also very unstable and could fall next time it rains heavily. Damage to the railway which had just had engineering work completed 2 weeks before, is estimated at over a million.  Total damage is estimated at around €3 million .


USAP to be opened up to new capital

The current majority shareholder of USAP, François Rivière wants to see his shareholding reduced from 90% to 70% of the capital by issuing new shares to allow others to invest in the club.  The aim is to move the club back into the rugby union elite.  Since he first invested in the club, he has injected several million euros to sort out the problems associated with law suits and a drop in receipts, particularly for the Thursday evening match.  He now feels that it is time to let others invest as well, whilst retaining a controlling share.  Fans will be able to take part, probably under the umbrella of the “Amics de l’USAP”, a cooperative which already exists to safeguard small shareholders.


Internet fraud

The financial police have caught an individual who was advertising smart phones and tablets for sale on the web, taking the money and not sending the goods.  The man, aged 29, was already known to the police and had been to prison for other crimes.  He has been kept on remand and will be judged at a later date.  The total fraud amounted to around €1500.


Catalan pizza chefs win gold

Stan Sitz and Christophe Toix won 3 gold medals at the European pizza championships in Italy this week; one for the former and two for the latter.  You can try Stan’s pizzas at the Pizza Claira and Christophe’s at the roundabout St Mamet at St Estève.  Meanwhile Laurent Lemal, the chef at the Cooperative at Belesta (Domaine de Riberach), and his assistant, Léa Fagéol, narrowly missed the medals at the European Cooking Championship, but coming fourth still wins them the right to go to the World Championship in Lyon next year. 


Shark spotted within 40m of coast at Banyuls sur Mer

A young Banyulenc (person from Banyuls) spotted a 2m long blue shark when he was out kayaking on Thursday morning.  At first he thought it was a sunfish when he saw the fin form at a distance, but as he got closer he realised that it what it was and snapped it on his smart phone.


Catalan artist exhibits at Cannes Film Festival

Valérie Giner-Boisselot from Perpignan was invited to show her portraits of stars by an agency based in Lyon.  She only had a month to prepare the exhibition but was very happy to do so, as it represents a real chance to get her work known more widely, especially as it will be seen by many of the stars.


Medicines present in the River Tet

A study just completed by CEFREM (Centre for Environmental Training and Research) at the University of Perpignan has found high levels of medicines in the waters of the Tet, particularly when the river is in full flood following heavy rain.  Pain killers, anti-depressants, contraceptives, epilepsy pills are all present and are causing problems for the fauna in the river.  Male fish are becoming feminised from the residues of contraceptives.  It is also possible that traces of the medicines are present in the tap water in Perpignan as the researchers could not rule out them having entered the water table.  SMX, an old antibiotic, hardly used now, is present all the way along the Tet, and the researchers think that it is being used by stock farmers and then being washed from the land into the water when it rains heavily.  Sewage treatment works do not eliminate these medicines from the waste water that is released.


Study locally to go to university without the bac

The University of Perpignan runs a course called the diploma for access to university studies for people that have not taken the bac to be able to go to university, thus allowing them to take part in competitive exams for civil service/bureaucratic positions and to further their careers.  The courses are run in Prades, Font-Romeu, Le Barcares and Tautavel.  The course involves 300 hours of evening classes from 6.30pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday.  Contact 04 30 19 81 41 or for more information.


Mont Louis campsite featured on “Bienvenue au Camping” on TF1

Aude and Yannick run the communal campsite Pla du Barrès in Mont Louis and featured in the TF1 programme which involves couples from different campsites visiting their sites and voting for the favourite each week, along the lines of “Un diner presque parfait” (Come Dine With Me).  Mont Louis is very different from most campsites in that it is classified as a “camping nature” where they don’t have a swimming pool, or any entertainment and no noise at night.  Most of the clients are there for walking, fishing and picking mushrooms and bilberries, and about 50% of them come from within the P-O.  The couple said that the filming was interesting and gave them some good ideas about how to improve the site.  They were looking forward to seeing the programme which was being broadcast on Monday 16th May.


Companies getting healthier since the beginning of the year

The percentage of companies in better shape went from 5.4% to 6.5% according to the barometer put together by the CCI of the P-O and the number of companies which were in worse shape dropped from 12.2% to 10.8%.


Moroccan company planning to start producing tomatoes in P-O

At the moment Matysha exports 23000 tonnes of vegetables to the P-O via the market at St Charles in Perpignan.  The owner is intending to start farming in the P-O in 2017 and has announced that he will employ 28 people. The company turns over €35 million per year.


Restrictions on amount of water allowed for irrigation canals

The peasants are uneasy and upset.  The new law on water has increased the amount of water that has to be left in the river at the dam at Vinça meaning that there will be less for irrigation, replenishment of the water table etc.  The subject was brought up at the general assembly of the Canals of the Aval de Vinça, with the major players in the association worried that there would not be enough water to allow everyone to get their share, in particular the 300 hectares of vineyards in the Aspres.  The state representative maintained that there would be sufficient as the decision was based on careful calculations of how much was required.


Regional Natural Park project on course for Corbières Fenouillèdes

The campaign to establish a regional natural park for the area which straddles the P-O and the Aude is in a crucial phase demanding the attention of those involved.  Obtaining the designation will mean the recognition of a defined territory for research and products and all that involves.  All the parties involved have confirmed their wish to reconcile the demands of protecting the biodiversity and countryside of a very rural area with those of economic, social and cultural development.  The area in question has a population of 30991.


Vallespir loses internet for a morning

A worker carrying out maintenance work accidentally severed the fibre optic cable, cutting internet and ADSL landlines from  Arles sur Tech to Le Boulou for the whole of Wednesday morning.  The service was  restored around 1pm.


Police demonstrate against anti-cop hatred

Off duty police all over France were called on by their unions to attend demonstrations against hatred of the police.  The action has been triggered by the violence which has accompanied the demonstrations against the new employment law, leaving 350 officers injured.  200 attended in Perpignan, watched by a group of anarchists on the opposite pavement.


Fold away toilets

A couple from Le Soler have just won the gold medal at the Concours Lépine in Paris for their concept of a fold away toilet which can gain valuable space in small bathrooms.  Rachel Arredondo and Philippe Marleix came up with the idea because Philippe, a plumber by trade, noticed the lack of space in clients’ bathrooms.   Sanifree beat 556 other entrants for the competition for the best French invention.  The idea has yet to be commercialised and its inventors are looking for potential investors.


People smuggler caught at Le Boulou

A Moroccan resident of Spain was pulled over by border police at Le Boulou on Saturday with a man and a woman with her 2 children aged 2 and 13 in the car.  The woman said that she had been lodging in a charity refuge in Spain with her children but wanted to join her family in France.  She added that she had met the other man at a holding centre on the other side of the border and he had arranged with the trafficker to deliver them to Perpignan station from Barcelona for the sum of €250  which she paid in the car.  She used money she had received from the charity to pay for passports for the children.  The driver said that he didn’t know anything about the administrative status of his passengers, was not a people smuggler and denied that he had been paid.  However cash to the same value was found on him.  He has a court date on 15th June.  The immigrants have been given notice to quit the country.  The man is in a holding centre in Perpignan and the woman and children have been given leave to appeal the decision.


Disappearing cars in Céret

The town council has recently appointed a private firm to run parking patrols, and locals who live and work in town and rarely move their cars were unpleasantly surprised to find that they’d disappeared.  Their first reaction was to report them stolen to the police, only afterwards realising that they’d been towed as they’d been parked in the same spot for over a week.  The victims said they understood the need to ensure that abandoned cars are removed, and this was the case for 25 out of the 35 moved.  However they added that the police could have put warning notices on the cars before taking them.  There is a fine in place of between €190 and €250 for those whose cars are towed and the company is targeting illegally parked vehicles as well as those that have not been moved.



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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