30 December, 2012

Frédéric Béatse and Jean-Claude Antonini to the Angevins : in 2013, "Go with the will"

It's just a greetings card. But it's the greetings card sent by the Angers mayor, Frédéric Béatse, and Jean-Claude Antonini, president of Angers Loire Métropole, to hundreds of decision-makers of the town and surroundings. So, as their first communication act of 2013, it would be strange that the card was choosen by chance. The card displays four persons, a woman and three men. All look to the lens of the camera. In their expression, there is both confidence and resolution. All have something in common : they are managers of projects or, what is the same, companies. 

While the economic situation was tough in 2012 and threats to become tougher next year, the two represen-tatives, appropri-ately, put "in front of the stage", through these persons, all the decision-makers of Angers, from private, public or associative sectors, on whom is based the ability of the local economy to bounce back. The place is not due to chance. The picture has been shot in the Grand theatre of Angers, a place where dramas, comedies, so life are acted. That setting looks a little been old-fashioned, (The building was erected few time after the Us Secession war) but in fact, it is timeless because supply of products or services, turnover, growth and jobs has depended on individual initiatives.

Up to now, the Angers city council greetings cards had never so clearly pointed out the importance for Angers inhabitants to go on with the will to create, invent, discover and undertake. Messrs Antonini and Béatse's greetings card sounds like an appeal to the 280 000 Angevins to roll up their sleeves. Because there is a lot work to do in 2013.

29 December, 2012

Tablets in Angers schools : after 4 months material changes are visible, cerebral gains not yet

Credit : Notre Dame de la Misericorde
Four months after it has been implemented in most of the schools of Angers, the use of the iPads tablets is sumed up in a little survey by Tablette tactile.net a website dedicated to "the understanding and the analysis of the tactile tablets market". For its survey, Tablette tactile.net was in touch with Notre-Dame de la Miséricorde and Montessori primary schools and warns that its analysis may not reflect all the experiences of other schools having tablets in Angers.

Credit : Angers city
The use of the tablets has probably decompartmentalized the computer universe, previously confined in computer classrooms. Thanks to the tablets, the computers are present in all the school, now fitted with wifi, notices the website. While formerly, each pupil had to keep an Usb stick, now Dropbox is the standard (Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers storage of pupils'works). The fact the school boys and girls don't have anymore a pen, but a tablet, led the school to set up a new blackbord : an Apple tv screen.

The observers look a little bit dumbfounded about the way the tablets have been introduced in Angers schools : without any supplementary resources for the apprenticeship of the tablets, above all for... teachers, some of them "having some apprehension" even others " reluctance" for the computer tool and "hesitation to involve themselves in its use".

One of the field of tablet use is reading apprenticeship. The elder pupils record their voices and their reading is then displayed to the youngests (the obervers do not mention the risk these can reproduce mistakes of the olders). Others fields of use are maths where challenges between pupils are organized (but was it impossible formerly?) and history where documents may be "enriched". Till now, the tablets have introduced material changes but the cerebral benefits have still to be proved. Four months is probably a too short period.

28 December, 2012

The beginning of 2013 will be difficult for the Angers university

One of the most delicate issues Angers city will have to deal in 2013 is the difficult situation of its university. After the closure of Technicolor, formerly Thomson, a flagship company of the town located there in the sixties, the university is another symbol of the weakness of Angers. That one, formerly called the "Western Athens" has still an important number of students. Almost 20 000 Angers inhabitants are students when the overall population of Angers is 150 000 persons.

The problem is financial. Recently the university chairman, Jean-Paul Saint-André complained that the allocation given by the state was not sufficient to finance the expenses. In 2010, out of a total of 136 millions €, 125 millions were dedicated to operating expenses (wages included) and 11 to capital expenditures. In 2012, the endowment of the state (among others resources) was 110 millions € when 115 millions were needed. "We have already reduced expenses and save up money", notices Mr Saint-André, aware of "the economic situation of the country".

The chairman has pointed out that the university board could decide a temporary administrative closure. The trade unions of the university employees warned that "the winter could be hot". Those two sides could easily convince the students to demonstrate in the streets. The Angers university looks victim of its success : from 15 500 students ten years ago, it counts up now about 20 000 students, an increase of 30%. About 28% of them are in literature, languages and social studies, 15% in law and economy, then medecine and sciences (11% each).

27 December, 2012

Angers chats up "The French Lover" in England

England discovers presently an advertising campaign about tourism in the Pays de la Loire area, in which, Anjou and Angers are in good position. Under the adress "www.paysdelaloire.co.uk", English people may find ideas for a stay outside their country. But, for Anjou and Angers inhabitants, the way under which they are depicted could sometimes be a little bit disconcerting. 

One of the adverts involved the English targets to "become a French lover and win your holiday in the Pays de la Loire". But what is that French lover look like? If the man pictured on the panel has a likeness with Hugh Grant, the famous British actor, his get-up (kindly) depicts the men of Pays de la Loire as a little sure of themselves. While the beret is a not a common headgear in France, the "French lover" has one and, of course, the famous French stick. Moreover, it is not sure many French people eat frogs. 

Regarding Angers, the city with its "Charming architecture, refined cuisine, renowned vineyards, festivals and monuments, superb parks and gardens, surprises visitors with its wealth of heritage and the quality of its lifestyle"! And "For those preparing to tread the wine trails that surround the city, a visit to the Maison des vins d’Anjou is a good place to start your research", says the advert.

From an idea of Sébastien Lewis. 

26 December, 2012

Two Angers parks get the national reward EcoJardin

The meadow of Balzac park at spring (Credit Picture : Angers city)
Angers, a city attached to the care of nature, has recently received the label "EcoJardin" awarded by the association Plante et Cité, a national centre for landscape and urban horticulture whose headquaters is located in... Angers. The EcoJardin label rewards respectful practising for environment in the management of greens. Everything is carefully watched from the absence of phytosanitary products as well as the origins and components of uban furnitures till the consumption of gas for the maintenance of the parks.

If the head of the organization is Jean-Claude Antonini, the deputy-president is the mayor of Versailles, a city where the gardening art has known its zenith, and among the members are major towns like Lille, Lyon, Marseille, Montpellier, Nantes, Paris and Rennes as well as several professionnal networks and private companies like Pierre&Vacances and Center Parcs. So the award is not only a compliment. 

If recently, Angers city had managed to extend the surfaces of the lawns in its cementaries,the EcoJardin label rewards the dedication of the town for living gardens : the Balzac park and the Saint-Nicolas park have been distinguished. And, according to the city website, thet are among the first in France. That acknowledgement is moreover a demonstration of Angers dedication of environment care. 

The only little regret may come from the fact that prize arrives when Angers gardens and parks are not at their best. That is especially true with the Balzac park which is annually flooded. Most of the Angers rivers are in rise. And, after the fall in level, the Balzac park needs time to recover.

25 December, 2012

The stance of Angers Loire Métropole regarding the prohibition of stores to open on Sunday contradicted by inhabitants

Angers policy regarding the opening of stores on Sundays is turning schizo-phrenic. On December 23, the new commercial park Atoll, whose the creation was supported by Angers town council, was full of passer-by, had noticed Le Courrier de l'Ouest.  "The car parks were almost full. Angers inhabitants thought it was a good idea for a walk before Christmas. But only two stores out of sixty were running", looks to deplore the daily newspaper.

While it is possible to let the no food stores to open five Sundays per year, all the mayors of Angers Loire Métropole asked on July 2012 to the Maine et Loire prefect  not to grant such authorization. The mayors justified - cautiously - their wish saying that even "the rules allowing food stores to open on Sundays do not seem to fit with the expectations of French society". But is that sure? What were all the people doing on Sunday before Christmas in a commercial center. What was their purpose walking along the front sides?

The Angers Loire Métropole council has been, that las Sunday before Christmas, absolutely contradicted by the facts. A few days before the beginning of a year generally predicted as difficult by the French national authority, Angers Loire Métropole representatives should be wise to reconsider their stance regarding the opening of stores on Sundays. The Angers society has probably changed much more than they believe. A change of mood on that issue would be a useful gift for the local economy in 2013. Hopefully for chidren, Santa Claus was working that Sunday...

23 December, 2012

The "iron curtain" about the interest of opening stores on Sundays is not yet lifted

Angers, as France, gives sometimes the feeling things are considered back to front. While, during that mild Sunday before Christmas, crowd was walking along the front illuminated sides of buildings and under the trees enlighted, while queues of people were fainting some hot wine or pastries near wooden mobile chalets, while children were waiting for a ticket to the merry-go-round of Ralliement square most of the retail stores were closed!

Credit Picture : Tony
The contrast between the hustle and bustle of the streets and the iron curtains of Angers stores (on order of the city hall?) was striking and intriguing. What were all these people looking for in the streets? If, as it has been said in official circles, they were not here to purchase Christmas gifts, the same people should be visible in public gardens on the other Sundays. Yet, it's not the case. And that is the proof they were in Angers down town that day for something else.

If, as it has been said, the purchasing power of Angers inhabitants is not sufficient to let the stores opened that day, it should be wise to close those stores on other days because that would improve the passer-by's domestic budget. If, as it as been said in official circles, Sunday must be dedicated to family life, is shopping with relatives not a family pastime?

Angevins and their representatives should consider the facts regarding economy and Sunday instead of insisting on old theories and dogmas of ancient times.

The new tv channel of Angers gives priority to viability and starts at low scale

Credit Picture : Vo Live
Angers city council wants to go fast. After the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel gave, on December 12th, the green light to broadcast, the 21 shareholders of the tv channel gathered and gave it a name, Angers Télé, and a manager, Olivier Hamon, already manager of an internet channel in Brittany, Armor Tv. The choice was probably due to the experience of Mr Hamon in the web tv. If to broadcast on the Hertzian net should become too costly for Angers télé, the local channel would come back to the internet channel.

Amor Tv is itself a creation of the Vo Live company which offers in its services to "set up your television channel on internet what allows to the customers to modernize their communication". Its most important project is Armor tv, a channel located (and about) in the Côtes d'Armor which has started in November 2006. Its website gives an idea of what could be the programmes of Angers télé : daily and weekly news, sports, music or culture are the contents of that channel who is already a token of longevity. The two predecessors of Angers télé lasted lasted nine years (Tv 10) and three years (Angers 7).
The new Angers channel displays a smaller ambition than the previous stations. The team will not exceed ten persons. For the shareholders (private companies and local authorities like Angers city and Angers Loire Métropole, those having the majority) the viability of Angers télé is more important than  its size. So the business model claims to be modest. A "contract of objectives and means" will be submitted to the Angers city council on January 30th and Angers tv will strat its programmes before the end of February.

22 December, 2012

According to Le Figaro, through balanced finances, Angers representatives take care of their image

Angers town hall
Under the title "Big towns, the mayors take care of their image", the national daily Le Figaro has studied the lifestyle of 36 French towns. And Angers is among them. The aim of the newspaper is to check that way of life of those cites is not disconnected with the cure of austerity, the state, the private sector and the housholds faced in 2012 and will endure in 2013. For that purpose, Le Figaro has listed a series of financial figures ranging from expenses regarding the local representatives, operating as well as capital expenses, and debt. 

A. Despagnet
Regarding the debt, Angers is the second French city with the smallest amount of loans to refund : 128 € per inhabitant (The first has 25 €). That point has always been a caracteristic of the management of the town since the election of Jean Monnier, and his deputy mayor in charge of finance, still in function in 2012, André Despagnet. The average of that series of French towns of more than 100 000 inhabitants is above 1 000 €. The rank of Angers is rather satisfactory regarding the operating and capital expenses.

The Gare + project
The operating expenses sumed to 624 € in 2011, what is a little bit less than the national average (639 €). Other towns have, one 306 € that year and another, the double (771 €). On the side of capital expenses, Angers, with 315 € in 2011, is above the average (311 €). But between 2010 and 2011, the expenses recorded an increase (2,6%) in the operating budget and a strong decrease (-26%) in the capital budget. 

Fréderic Beatse (right), Angers mayor
The way of life of local representatives has been analysed through their communication expenses and the mission fees. In the field of the communications expenses (for 10 000 inhabitants), Angers is credited with 152 318 € per year while the national average is around 114 000 €. But, the dispersion is important : a town has 27 000 € per year and another around 317 000 € (the double). The mission fees of Angers city representatives reached 1 010 € but the neighbouring Le Mans is much more thrifty : 112 € while Nantes representatives spend 1 014 €.

21 December, 2012

Letter from the editor

Dear Mrs Lazic,
Thank you for your comment. I have no doubt about the flavour of the L'Angevine I would like to taste. Would you have also the good articles' recipe?

Opened and closed stores on Sunday : the day of the mess

The mayors of cities and villages members of Angers Loire Métropole have not cleared out the debate about the closing of superstores on Sundays. The commercial center of Murs-Erigné, Hyper U, announced it will be opened the Sunday morning before Christmas. Why? Because its neighour, the E. Leclerc centre, located in Brissac, will open that day. "We  can't loose market shares", notices the manager of Hyper U : "We have to counter competitors". But why is the E. Lecler centre opened in spite of the prohibition of Angers Loire Métropole? Because it is not located in the area of that authority...

Another original aspect of the case is the Hyper U is supported by an ecologist, Philippe Bodard, mayor of Murs-Erigné and himself member of Angers Loire Métropole board which, a few months ago voted, unanimously (so including Mr Bodard), against the openings of superstores on Sundays! "They are entrusted to open, above all if the E.Leclerc of Brissac open in the same customer catchment area", he remarks. Local trade unions critized the move of the hyper U management but the employees of that store were favourable to the opening : they will get a double wage what, for the Hyper U, is not profitable! 

Picture before Sunday closing
But, what will the customers do? A priori, those of Murs-Erigné should not go to Brissac. Perhaps those of Saint-Jean-de-Linières who, one year ago, have to stop their Sunday shopping, will go to Murs-Erigné. On the afternoon, they will be free to pay visit to the wooden mobile stores set up in Ralliement square and rented by Angers city, because on the following days, they will have vasnished. The same day, the settled stores of Angers down town will be closed. They will reopen after Christmas, but the purchases will be over!

20 December, 2012

The purchase of the industrial equipments of Technicolor, a daring bet for Alm

Angers Loire Métropole has made a bet. At the auctions of the equipments of Angers Technicolor, organized on December 20th, the authority bought all the tools and equipment necessary to resume an industrial activity on the site. The board of Alm, who has decided to purchase later to Technicolor the land of the factory, considers in a press release that those acquisition was "a first step". 

"Through that repurchase, the agglomeration avoids the disperse of the production tool and preserves the possibility of a resumption of the activity", writes Alm whose industrial plan and industrial partners are not known. Up to now, a few reactions the local medias displayed on their website have disapproved the money Angers Loire Métropole involved in the acquisition. These readers criticize a bad use of public receipts and the risky bet of the local authority.

That one believe it's possible to create about 200 jobs through several industrial projects. Now the only thing Angers Loire Métropole can do is to go till the end of the logic with the purchase of all the plot of Technicolor because it will manage all the future of the site, and its potential conversion in real estate projects. The plots, once sold to real estate developers, could fuel some money useful for the setting up of industrial area for future projects.

19 December, 2012

Angers Loire Métropole inhabitants must get ready to the decrease of parking facilities

Angers Loire Métropole has published on December 19th a survey about the ways choosen by the inhabitants to move. The first record is agglomeration inhabitants are moving more and more : about one million travels takes place daily in the area. The most important increase is located in the villages of the second ring (+40% since 1998), a phenomena due to urban spread. If the use of individual cars is stagnating, the survey notices a surprising fact. In spite of the implementation of the tramway, the proportion of collective modes of transportation in the total of the moves is declining. 

The explanations given by Angers Loire Métropole to the figures of moves reveal what kind of measures the authority could implement to change the behaviour of inhabitants. Regarding the car parking, Angers Loire Métropole considers that "the easiness to park stimulates the use of cars". So, logically, the authority and its members may choose to reduce the car parking facilities in the years to come. If that becomes true, it will not please Angers retail store owners.

But these will not be alone because one half of Angers Loire Métropole inhabitants moves are linked to the work and the studies. Employees and students may face more difficulties in the years to come. The survey brings also informations about the daily average time travellers dedicate to their movings : 52 mn and almost the three quartiers of the movings within Angers Loire Métropole go throughout Angers.

18 December, 2012

The increase of unemployment considered as "inescapable"

As France, Angers territory is few by few affected by the growth of unemployement. The number of persons without job has increased by 13% during a twelve months period ending on october 2012. At that time, more than 15 000 persons were out of work within the limits of the agglomeration of Angers. According to local observers, those figures illustrate a strong deterioration. That is more than the double of the increased noticed in May 2012 during the twelve previous months. 

But this is only a part of the crisis. If, the number of persons having worked till 78 hours and above 78 hours during the last month is added, the figure of job seekers rises to about 24 000. The increase is close to the 10%. The trend of deterioration of unemployment goes back to the 2011 second trimester. Two categories of Angers inhabitants look more affected by the deterioration of the economy : the women and the youngs. 

Angers city could be one of the most affected towns of the Pays de la Loire. The rate of unemployed persons in Angers was about 9,4%, a figure more important than those of Maine et Loire (8,9%) and the region (8,3%). Few by few, Angers is nearing France average (9,7%). And the number of persons laid off has increased of more than 6% in Angers during the twelve months period ended in October 2012.

17 December, 2012

Soon or later, the right side will have to put back the pieces together

After he was dismissed, a few days ago, of his responsability as the spokesperson of the minority group at Angers city council by his former colleagues, Laurent Gérault has finally been excluded of the opposition. The reason would have nothing to see with policy, they say. What would be at stake is his character. The local Ouest-France reported the critics against Mr Gérault but all of them are connected with its part in the political field like "dominance on the communication of the group" while he was its spokesperson.

So such a measure could become an harassment and could backlash against its initiators. More recently, Mr Gérault got some support from former colleages in the Angers town council or present regional councillors who considered his exclusion was an humiliation. The interview Laurent Gérault gave recently saying he was more and more hailed by Angers inhabitants has apparently triggered an appeal he had not foreseen. If Mr Gérault will be completely isolated , but not mute, in Angers city council, the members of the minority group will have to find out a new spokesperson but, above all, to gather the more and more necessary supports as we go along with the municipal campaign of 2014. 

The right side of Maine-et-Loire, already weakened by a national divided leadership, looks more and more torn apart between the far right Front national and the two centres Modem and the new Udi. Its leader, Christophe Béchu, if he wants to win the next Angers municipal ballot will have to get the support of a large part of the right, center included. So Laurent Gérault's recent eviction could be counterproductive in the future.

16 December, 2012

Angers store owners should send a letter to father Christmas

There is an issue which could be submitted to the new Angers mediator by the city store owners : the opening of their shops on Sundays. On December 16th, some of them were working. Leather shop, clothes store or hairdresser, some of them attempted to get a supplementary turnover in that period traditionaly propitious for purchases. Maybe they didn't got what they wished in financial terms. But if that is the case, their efforts deserve to be saluted because they probably lost money by giving hustle and bustle to the city center generally empty of people on ordinary Sundays.

That was not the case that Sunday. The merry-go-round of Ralliement square and the mobile wooden chalets made come in down town thousands of passer-by looking for fun in spite of a gloomy and rainy end of afternoon. It is not impossible that some of them have been astonished by the change of atmosphere with, and without, stores opened. While many Angers representatives or trade union leaders believe the Angevins purchasing power is not sufficient to let the stores to open on Sundays, the refutation was clear today

And, one more time, Angers inhabitants revealed that purchases were for them a leisure and a family activity. In a consumtion society, who could have thought the opposite? While many projects are launched by the city council, its members should be inspired to walk throughout Angers center to realize that something must be reconsidered in the prohibition of opening stores on Sundays. It would be a wonderful gift for the city.

The industrial vocation of the Technicolor site becomes hardly conceivable

Credit Picture Technicolor
The likelihood for the site of the Technicolor company to have an industrial future looks grim. On December 19th, the liquidator choosen by the Nanterre bankruptcy court will auction all the technical and administrative equipments of the former factory. Without any capital goods, it is technically impossible to put on the tracks rapidly a new activity. 

So the odds for the former employees of Technicolor to work again on the site becomes nothing. That situation is due to the absence of agreement between Angers city and the liquidator about the value of the site. Angers city made a bid of € 4 millions where the liquidator's price was € 14 millions. Such a situation is nevertheless favourable to a total conversion of the site from an industrial to a real-estate purpose. For the former employees of Technicolor, those auctions will make happen the carving-up of their own life. Few of them plan to watch the scene...

15 December, 2012

The future Angers tv, a channel to English

Credit Picture : Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel
"The project of a local tv channel in Angers has been approved by the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel, the French broadcasting authority, on December 11th", notices one of the readers of Angers Daily News, Sébastien Lewis. Mr Lewis, in a post to that blog, hopes that "there will be some programs in English, since so many English-speaking people live in Angers". If Angevins coming from English speaking countries could be interested by programs in their mother tongue, natives Angers and especially young inhabitants could be interested, in addition to the English lectures they already have at school or university, by a supplementary way of learning English.

Credit Picture Angers city
An educational content, besides the informative purpose of the channel, would not necessarily contradictory with some of the actions already implemented by Angers city as well as Angers Loire Métropole. The first is the choice to increase the use of scholars of numerical tablets instead of traditional computers. Since last september, all Angers public primary schools use it and those tablets are also appearing few by few in private schools.  And one of the most interesting field of interest is the "apprenticeship of foreign languages".

Credit Picture Angers Loire Métropole
The English content of the local programs would also be consistent with the positionning of Angers Loire Métropole through the brand "Angers Loire Valley", the twinning of the city with the capital of Texas, Austin, and the recent audience of the last Accorche-Coeurs edition regarding the fact Angers was the native land of former English kings.  Because the contents of the future local channel have not been settled, its managers, and among them Angers city and the Angers Loire Métropole authority, have time to think about that supplementary educational purpose.

13 December, 2012

Secularism wants to root in Angers

A tribute to secularism has taken place in the redevelopped Lorraine square in Angers. That tribute is a tree, a symbolic choice for the supporters of such an initiative who want to see secularism protected and even developped in France. Numerous persons have attended the tree planting ceremony on december 9, 107 years after the most famous French law enacting the state and church separation was drafted. The originators of the event are above all public education trade unions while Angers gathers an important number of catholic schools and event a catholic university. 

But in Angers, civil society and church are not as separated as church and state are since 1905. Angers gathers an important numbers of confessionnal schools and even a catholic university. And, in Angers, as in many other French (and English) cities, religion has invaded the streets because of the headgears and clothes wore by women who seem to impose their religious opinions to the passer-by's knowledge. 

The Angers catholic church is going to take part next saturday to a debate about the opportunity to generalize the civil mariage between persons of the same gender. It is not said the ideas of Angers catholic church will have the same echo in the city that the defense of private schools got more than 30 years ago.