30 April, 2013

Angers Technicolor : the French state invests elsewhere

Is the industrial future of Angers already part of history? The entry of the French state in the capital of Technicolor, a former Angers flagship company which closed its doors for good last year, has infuriated Laurent Gérault, opposition member in the Angers town council, but the fact surely disappointed some Socialist members of the majority. 

"While the industrial project for the Angers site is desparately dormant, it's astonishing to learn that the French state, through the strategic investment fund it set in 2008, has taken part of the capital and of the vote rights of Technicolor. What a cynicism!", said Mr Gérault. After members of the government came last year in Angers to support the Technicolor 330 employees, finally laid off Angers Agglomération stay
ed alone to buy the site, the industrial equipement and started to work on its possible conversion which, until now, gave no result.

That case demonstrate one more time that in the industrial recovery, Angers has nothing to wait from the French state but can only rely on itself. That will only come through competitive tax level, so a slowing down of some beautiful but expensive projets Angers can't anymore buy.

28 April, 2013

The failure of the primaries supporter : a signal that policy is not the current priority of Angers inhabitants

Consecutively to the rejection, by the Angers Socialist supporters of primaries inside the left side for the choice of a candidate for the municipal ballots of 2014, Jean-Luc Rotureau, decided to withraw, at least temporarily, from the Socialist party. Was it right? His own press release brings a doubt about that. If the adversaries of open primaries (114 persons...) got the majority, the voters were 159... While more than 9 000 Angers inhabitants took part of the choice for the former presidential elections...

Credit Picture : http://www.rotureau.fr
There is something which puts ill at ease. What is the meaning of such a narrow electoral college? But above all, what level of interest Angers inhabitants have to local elections, in spite of the efforts the Angers majority council do for the citizens participation?  In comparison to the difficulties Angers inhabitants face in their daliy life, that campaign for a political choice did not interested many people. 

Maybe Mr Rotureau should have done differently : a platform first (projects, analysis of the balance of the municipal team) then a campaign about his candidacy. The other candidates didn't do the same mistake. Both Frédéric Béatse and Christophe Béchu didn't unveil their intentions, even if these will certainly be candidate. Now Mr Rotureau has no other choice than to be an additional force of another candidate. He probably lost the chance to be a candidate himself.

27 April, 2013

France students in Shanghaï university during François Hollande visit were "out of the questions"

Apparently, the quick travel of president François Hollande in China will not leave an imperishable souvenir to French students staying in Shanghaï. On April 26, the president celebrated the inauguration of the Engineers Paris Tech-Shanghaï Jiao Tong and met there young fellow citizens following the cursus in that school. One of the students present that day, Julian, has studied in Angers and didn't got the opportunity to ask a question to Mr Hollande.

Credit Picture : Elysée
"Only Chinese students had the right to talk to the French president. Moreover, all the questions were overseen by the France consulate in Shanghaï before", deplores the Angevin who would have love to know why French students in China or everywhere else don't get the same housing allocations their Chinese or foreign fellow students benefit when they are themselves in France for a few months... It would have been appropriate for the French president to talk a few minutes to the students France sent there several months ago and for several months to come even if Shanghaï was called the "Paris of the East" as Mr Hollande pointed out.

26 April, 2013

Severe increase of joblessness in the Angers agglomeration on over the last 12 months

As the national trend, the unemployment rate has severely increased during between February 2012 and February 2013 in Angers and in Maine-et-Loire. At the end of February, 15 727 job seekers were count. The increase is 13.7% on one year. If we ad the others groups of unemployed persons, the overal number goes over 24 000 persons, i.e. about 12% in a single year. 

Credit Picture : Helpline
Already worrying, the figures are in Maine et Loire, well above the national pace of increase : 3.8% in March in Maine-et-Loire compared to 1.2% in France as a whole. The rate of joblessness in Angers Loire Métreople is very close to the national one : 9;7% vs. 9.9%. According to the barometer published by La Maison de l'Emploi (Angers), the numbers of  new companies or companies takeover has decreased. And the volume of credits granted by banks looks to stagnate on the last twelve months. 

Hopefully, those bad news are (a little bit) offset by the recruitments announced by Helpline, a remote computer assistance company which arrived in Angers four years ago and started to run with 20 employees, while they are 180 today and about 230 within the twelve next months. Angers city should give a call to Helpline for jobs.

25 April, 2013

Angers local economy on a skating rink

The simultaneity of the construction of an ice skating rink near the new AquaVita swimming facility due to open at the end of the current year in the Verneau district is surely a good news for the hockey team Ducs d'Anjou supporters and for the building companies but it raises questions about what is really important for Angers since a few years. Recently it has been said in local medias that an integration company, whose purpose was to get work for very low income people was experiencing troubles because many orders were now sent by local customers to similar companies located abroad.

After technicolor Angers employees who have faced the closure of their company last year because the production is now given to Vietnamese workers, after the closure of Valeo alternators, due to be implemented in the months to come because the workload will be sent to Poland, and so many other cases, Angers city does not seem to realize its economy has loosen an important part of its competitiveness. And all those, probably legitimate new facilities, give the feeling leisure has priority over work.
 It is sure the room for manoeuvre of the city is narrow but that one does not express an economic policy as well as a social policy. The allocations granted to economic development by Angers city have soared in its latest budget to € 7.3 millions. But those dedicated to sports and leisures totalize € 12.9 millions. Angers has a young population which, within a few years, will need money, so work, to finance its sports and leisure time.

24 April, 2013

Angers University, 2nd in France for the proportion of students getting their degree in time

According to a ranking published on april 22nd by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research, the Angers university is on the 2nd place on a national range of 28 universities. That ranking is got by the comparison between the noticed success rate and the foreseen success rate of students after their third and fourth year of the cursus.

The foreseen rate being linked to the university structure, the survey may indicate that, in spite of its limited resources, the Angers university has rather good results. Suc a news should give confidence to the dean of the Angers university, Jean-Paul Saint-André, who complained on the beginning of the current year about the scarcity of the financial resources its university go from the French Ministry.
 But that survey could alos mean Angers University should not compete for an increase of its number of students for the first three years. The main caracteristic of French university is too few students will get their license or master's after only three years of studies. Most of them will get their degree much more later, or even, never.

22 April, 2013

Notre-Dame des Landes and Angers Loire Aéroport at a turning point

The issue of airports is still in the daily news of Angers inhabitants. While, Angers Marcé airport opened that week its flights towards Tunis, at the same time, opponents to the project of the Notre-Dame des Landes airport project carried on their opposition to the scheme. Some of them were distributing leaflets to the passer-by walking throughout the open air market. Others were gathered in down town to send their election card back to city hall.

The conjunction of these two facts illustrate the difference the inhabitants do between a little airport whose difficulties demonstrate Angers is rather few opened toward the international world and, at the same time, the fact they consider a new international airport in the Western France is something useless. Would the Angers Marcé airport, which has already the worst difficulties to survive, resist to the
competition of the future Notre-Dame-des-Landes scheme?

The success of the new lines opened in 2013 would be a turning point of the history of the facility, until now introduced as something rather suited to the business travels and not the holidays travels. After years of dificulties, Angers city and the Angers Marcé airport decided to open a free bus line for travellers comin or going to the airport. Let them do the balance of the try. After, they shall decide... [Credit Pictures : Angers Loire Aéroport and Wikipedia]

20 April, 2013

At the English speaking library : spring books

Books were "for sale" at the English Speaking Library of Angers on April 20th. But, above all, a British atmosphere was to breathe all day long throughout the rows and the shelves of the place among members, French or foreigners, of the English speaking Angers community. At the entrance of the library, a lady fond of vegetables and flowers offered, for a few pennies, sorry, cents, Narcissus and a large variety ot young tomato plants.
A little bit further, tea, coffee and English or Us pastries were to eat before, or after, a dive into the books collections set up on tables. An ordering of those would have been appropriate for visitors, but, at the same time, that made the visit a little bit longer. The English Speaking Library looks to be more a place of rally of foreigners, most of them nervetheless settled in Angers for a long time and apprently happy to be there.

The institution will soon start its third decade and, ins spite of the difficult economic situation, has still the confidence of the public and the enthusiasm of its members. In its last annual geneal meeting, on April 3rd, the members learnt the 2012 fiscal year saw the strenghening of the library throughout associative indicators : the number of members, stable (1 839), but an important  increase of native French speaking members, probably because of the enlargement of the services to new parts of Maine-et-Loire. The English events planned by the institutions are an important part of its success.

19 April, 2013

Angers lighting policy is not clear

The change is not visible and even, from a specific point of view, clarifying. In some Angers boulevards or avenues, streets lamps are now lighted up one out of two from 10 pm to 06 am. The problem is now, some zones of the streets are in the dark because the streets lamps were set up face to face and not in staggered rows. That is helpful to save up money but the reduction of the number of lighted lamps during nights may make more unsafe the streets of the city for people coming back home, early (what is not an offense). 

Maybe the city should replace few by few (given the financial constraints) the old electrical street lamps by solar systems which catch their energy on days and use it during nights. Moreover, with the lengthening od days recently, it would be wiser to switch them until 10.00 pm and from 06.00 am, because there is light at those hours during the four or five months to come.

In that field, would it not be possible to save up money through a decrease of the number and of the time the illuminations of public buildings? Angers city took part to a special event dedicated to the savings of energy for environmental purposes. That should lead to think what lights are useful or useless at night. such a debate would be clarifying.

17 April, 2013

The Angers city council "live" transmission could become lively in the months to come

A new functionnality making possible to watch "in live" the meetings of the city council is available on the Angers website. Apparently, the first broadcasting was dedicated to the April 17th meeting. If the town councillors have the idea to watch, like a simple viewer, their own performance, it is sure they will have the idea to work  their communication. Some look shy, others seems to be comfortable with the new tool the website has implemented.

On the last meeting, a part of the debate was focused on the ice-skating rink the members of the majority side want to study now. That triggered critics from the minority which said that it will be difficult to finance, on the year to come a new swimming pool, a new ice-skating rink and a new stadium. The live transmission of the debates within the council could probably stimulate the confrontations between the right (minority) and the left (majority) just one year before the next municipal ballots.

The live transmission could become more and more lively as we go along the next election year and the issues be discussed much more agressively even if it is not sure their clarity will be increased. In fact, one of the dangers of such live transmission would be to transpose in a local assembly the national positions.

16 April, 2013

Angers airport : ready to take off with... buses

The implementation of a new service of buses - and above all - free between the Marcé Airport and Angers city should benefit to the running of that facility. Till now, the lines hve operated only temporarily and have not lived more than a single year. But, maybe the problem was not to take off from Marcé, but, more simply, to go to Marcé! In fact the airport needs planes, but the plane need buses.

Pictures : Google and Angers Marcé Airport
Located "in the middle of nowhere", about 20 km North-East of Angers, the facility, which survives only thanks to allocations from the city and the Maine-et-Loire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is completely isolated. It was said that when the first flight of the British Airways subsidiary arrived from London at Marcé, everything was ok to welcome the first passengers except the means to go from there to Angers!

That case illustrates, once again, the need of the city to work more globally about its offer to business or leisure tourists.
Self proclamations are not sufficient to convince customers. Angers should think about that case to take benefit of the future Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport, it that one survives to the current demonstrations.

15 April, 2013

Another industrial production has left Angers.

After the Technicolor disappearance a few months ago, Angers is loosing another industrial company. One of the two factories of Valeo, an automobile parts manufacturer, settled near La Roseraie district since the 70', will silently join the other one, much more important, located in Ecouflant. While about 400 persons worked there until a few years ago, only 86 of there are still in place and will go to Ecouflant next year.

That factory, which ultimately produced alternators, has lost that work which was re-located, by Valeo, because of lower costs, in Poland. The sharing of the time work implemented in France more than 15 years ago, has still undoreseen, and probably bitter, consequences.
Credit Pictures: Valeo

Because the arrival in Angers of major companies recruiting instantaneously hundreds of employees is unlikely, the city would be well advised to carefully consider how it could get more economic attractiveness. for years, the city, has paid attention to the improvement of its inhabitants way of life. It should also look to the necessary conditions the small and medium companies currently settled in Angers need to only survive.

13 April, 2013

An American company performs the "theatre of war" at Jean Vilar

The "theatre of operations", the United states led in Irak a few years ago was the setting of two short stories, "The last stand" and "Gold star", both of them staging the thoughts of women of soldiers gone to war, and performed, in English,  on April 12, at the Jean Vilar theatre, by an american company. That one, the Word for word performing arts company, "believes in the power of the short story to provide solace, compassion and insight into our daily lives". All the stories have in common the will of husbands and wives to grasp to their own families, those endangered of splitting because of 
the  war.

The Word for word company, settled in San-Fran-cisco, was invited in Angers by the English language library and the Centre JeanVilar. The performance gathered, in spite of the language barrier, a numerous audience, for the tiny Jean Vilar hall mainly English speaking Angevins, native of an English speaking country or in charge of teaching English in Angers schools and universities. 

 This is maybe  the main regret such an event may inspire : the absence of Angers youngs studying English. Such an event would have been, because of the diction of the actors, a very good exercise for them during the following weekend. The Word for word company play would also deserve to be part of one of the next Festival d'Anjou(Credit Picture : Word for Word on www. zspace.org)

11 April, 2013

Angers Socialists : the primaries are not their first choice

With the refusal of Angers Socialists supporters of primaries, the current city mayor, Frédéric Béatse, looks to be the best positionned candidate for the 2014 municipal elections. if the votes of supporters are largely against the primaries (114), the number of people who have voted is tiny (159) what is a little bit more disappointing for Jean-Luc Rotureau, deputy-mayor and promoter of primaries designed to choose the best candidate for the ballot. Thousands of supporters had taken part of the choice of their candidate for the last presidential elections.

The result now opens the way for Mr Béatse and let a litlle margin of manoeuvre for Mr Rotureau : to join Mr Béatse's list, to join another movement or to take another direction. Mr Rotureau didn't said what he will do. He only pointed out that such a choice was a pity for the Angers inhabitants because primaries should have made them more operator of their city life. The big question is what his supporters will do.

If the way is clear for Mr Béatse, it is not yet a triumphal road. The opponents in the Angers city council have already started to attack his balance a few months ago ("Angers Dangers") and week after week harden the tune of their critics, paving the way for Christophe Béchu. But that one will not be the fiercest opponent of Frédéric Béatse. The economic crisis, eroding the mind of the Angers electors, will be an adversary much more difficult to defeat... And the refusal of the primaries looks to demonstrate that risk is not in inhabitants' mind.

10 April, 2013

Angers 2014 ballots : the opponents on sport fields

Credit Picture : Ducs d'Angers
The successes of the ice hockey Ducs d'Angers have recently triggered a demand from the city council minority to build a new ice rink. These representatives say that the current facility, located in Haras street, is old fashioned and too small for a club which should play in a higher division next year. If such an idea is visibly designed to increase pressure on the Angers majority council one year before the 2014 municipal ballots, it could also backlash against the current minority in case of its victory on next elections.

Credit Picture : Wikipedia
In fact, the Ducs d'Angers would not be the single club to ask for a new stadium. The soccer club Angers Sco is currently well ranked and could play in the first league in the 2013-2014 sporty year. But, in that case, the cost of the stadium would be much more important than a ice rink. Such a project, launched during the former campaign, could resurface. But the economic situation of Angers has worsened since 2008.

Credit Picture : Angers city
Now, the mood in cities like Angers is rather for savings. In its 2013 budget, the town has, wisely, strenghened its support towards economy, whose decline has severely damaged inhabitants way of life. So, after the launch of AcquaVita, the new swimming pool facility, it is not sure Angers interest is to dive in additional sports and leisures expenses.

09 April, 2013

Angers pedestrians : keep of the grass!

Credit Picture : Iris
Angers city takes care of its image through the maintenance of numerous green spaces and flower beds along the streets and at the roundabouts. That was visible during the last days on Saint-Michel boulevard where an olde line of shrubs has been taken away and replaced by by rows of new little plants. 

The green lane in the middle of the way has been totally changed : new paths among the flowers allow the pedestrians to cross the street avoiding they walk on the flowers. A little fence has even been erected to lead the people to the paths. But these do not care. They put their feet on the new green lane, without any care for the work of tow hall employees, visibly got used to such behaviours. 

Packaging papers and cigarette buts are thrown away by the car drivers. Are such works useful for people who don't pay respect, even attention, for those improvements. Those are costs for Angers city and its (impoverished) inhabitants? Maybz town hall is going to far in such gardenings tasks, pedestrians walk on?

05 April, 2013

Hosting Austin for an enlarged twinning

The twinning policy of Angers is speeding up. In only three years, the links between Angers and Austin, the Texas capital, are getting wider and are inspiring new ideas for the capital of Anjou. "The exchange of students, inovation, culture, music [are] carriers of economic links", pointed out a few days ago Frédéric Béatse, Angers mayor, welcoming an Austin delegation after a local one was hosted a few months ago to the South by Southwest, a music festival which takes place every spring at Austin.

Because Angers would to overcome the current economic difficulties, the Angers representatives would to enlarge the twinning with Austin to new fields : "green economy, food, health". The Texas capital is considered to be a major centre for high tech with numerous companies Angers would love to get only a sample : Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox... 

 But is Austin looking for the same? It is not (yet?) sure. If one member of the Austin delegation said that the texas capital is envious of the Angers tramway (the Us city has already one trolley) and of the pedestrian streets, no businessman was travelling too. After the visit to Södertälje, the capital of Scania in Sweden, Angers city should conceive a strategy aiming at driving activity and jobs from others Western countires. Angers Loire Valley could be helpful for that purpose.

03 April, 2013

SpeakyPlanet : play in English

Angers is still attracted by English language. SpeakyPlanet, created at the end of 2011 in Angers, is taking its place among the institutions dispensing lectures of English to inhabitants. The originality of  SpeakyPlanet is its customers : the children from 7 years old. The method is simple. Instead of waiting the college to learn Englis, the subscribers of the website have only... to play. "Playing our games, your children will be immersed in the heart of a funny and interactive world where they will learn English in fun", writes the SpeakyPlanet website.

After a first year, the little company has seven employees and works with indepe
ndant English teachers and illustrators conceive the games dedicated to French pupils from the preliminary class to the 5th at college. the vocabulary SpeakyPlanet is teaching is the most usual in order to be useful for children, what doesn't eliminate the interest to attend English lectures at school or college.

More than 3 500 subcribers play in and with English and the figure has rose since January mainly in French speaking countries, says the founders of the company. Numerous institutions teach English in Angers which, few by few, is renewing its former links with its English past.

02 April, 2013

Jean-Luc Rotureau sees a second chance in the Angers first primaries

The support given by the prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, at the end of his visit in Angers a few days ago, to the city mayor, Frédéric Béatse, didn't apease the debate between Mr Béatse and his left contender for the municipal ballot of 2014, Jean-Luc Rotureau. Mr Ayrault indicated Frédéric Béatse was the best choice for Angers inhabitants, "I praise the qualities of the Angers territoriy and of his young mayor".

Credit Picture : Angers city
Indeed, Mr Rotureau announced today that "next week the Angers members of the Socialist Party will debate and vote about the best way for them to choose their candidate : primaries as I am calling for that since two years". But the deputy-mayor doesn't say what he will do if these supporters do not select the primaries way. Angers medias reports that he could create its own list or will join another candidate. Originally, Mr Rotureau wanted opened primaries to all Angers citizens.

But it is not sure that Mr Rotureau has interest to apply pressure on his own side because that could be very useful for the Angers right opposition and its leader, Christophe Béchu. But it is clear that the campaign will gain in intensity even before summer. And the current position of the French lef as well as its balance on the economic field (even in Angers) is presently an asset... On the right side, primaries are not planned. Until now.

01 April, 2013

The Angers dead city on April 1st isn't a joke

On April 1st, no working day, but sunny day, even if a little bit windy, in Ralliement square all the terraces West positioned were full of people, eager to benefit of the first sun beams. Those comfortably seated on armchairs and around tables were not only the first clue of the coming (?) spring but, paradoxically, the symbol of how the city is alive when stores are working. 

In the nearby deserted streets, a few people were walking along closed front windows, hands in the pockets, and money in the wallets (?). In the neighbouring ways, the cafes terraces are also the only point of animation and all are full of (young) people.

Angers, like many others many French cities, deserves, even more during Sundays and other no woerkig days, that qualifying term of provincial while many stores in Paris stays opened on that day (Many stores are opened in London during ordinary weekend, may notice Angers tourists who stay there for a few days).

The persons seated on Ralliement square saw the new trolley running empty of people. But why should the Angers inhabitants travel in down town on April 1st when there is nothing to do? On that Monday which is France the day for April fool's joke, even city council had not promised that, from now on, Angers stores would run on Sundays! What a pity.