30 April, 2014

In the Angers real estate market, the golden triangle is a quadrilateral

Dans une récente livraison, l'hebdomadaire L'Express a consacré un article au marché immobilier d'Angers. Sous un titre un peu tapageur "Angers où vivent les riches, où vivent les pauvres? ", le magazine souligne, et parfois surjoue, les contrastes entre quartiers mais relève également qu'entre les moins favorisés de ces derniers, la politique de rénovation urbaine n'a pas eu la même ampleur.

The weekly L'Express has published in an issue of April a report about the social and economic differences between Angers inhabitants through the real estate market.  The main lessons of the survey is "in spite of a social tradition deeply anchored, the differences in resources between Angers districts are obvious" and "the important schemes of urban renovation have not solved all the difficulties".

While interesting and detailed, the article looks, through its title ("Where the wealthiest and poorest Angers inhabitants are living?"), to oppose each others. The wealthiest Angevins "are concentrated in a rather narrow perimeter included between the Montaigne avenue, the Foch and the Pierre-de-Cubertin boulevards and the Létanduère street". It is indeed in that quadrilateral that the highest income of the Maine-et-Loire are spotted. They range from € 2,024 to  € 2,525 per month. "There the gentry, the upper class, the catholic families and up from now the bobos", say an  executive of the Agence d'urbanisme de la région d'Angers while a real estate agent considers that many elements "help to keep the prices at an unattainable level for the mere mortals".

At the opposite, in the most unfavoured Angers districts like La Roseraie or Monplaisir "the home purchase is not something conceivable" because the medium monthly revenue (in Monplaisir) is  € 634. But there are inequalities between Angers districts : some, like La Roseraie, where concerned by the urban renovation, while Monplaisir was not. And the differences between them are "striking", points out the Express who considers that in Angers, "misery has not been eradicated but simply displaced".

29 April, 2014

Critics between former Angers socialist decision-makers boomerang

Les critiques en boomerang entre anciens décideurs socialistes angevins. - Rien ne va plus entre les socialistes angevins après la perte, lors des dernières élections municipales, de la mairie d'Angers. Tout le monde critique tout le monde. Après celles de l'ancien maire d'Angers à certains de ses anciens compagnons, ceux-ci lui retournent le compliment. La reconquête de l'électorat devra peut être attendre la reconstruction interne. 

Nothing works any longer inside the Anges socialist community. After the interview the ex-Angers mayor, Jean-Claude Antonini gave to local medias about the defeat of his heir, Frédéric Béatse, at the municipal elections and the behaviour of his former deputy mayor in charge of finances, André Despagnet, some critics bommerangs on him.

An Angers socialits councillor in the Maine-et-Loire Conseil général, Claude Desblanc has decided to slam the door of his group inside that authority. Mr. Desblanc, who was favourable to primaries between Mr. Béatse and Jean-Luc Rotureau for the socialist candidacy to the Angers mayor office, blames Mr. Antonini he accuses "to have despised [mépriser] the citizens" and he also finds regrettable that Mr. Antonini never expressed "self-criticism" after his political side was defeated.

Mr. Despagnet is not be outdone [n'est pas en reste]. He reproaches to Jean-Claude Antonini to have suggested in his recent statements that his ex-deputy-mayor, when in charge of finances, would not have been so irreproachable as it has been said on the field of financial accountancy. " I don't know what he implies, but I am not dishonest. Indeed, there were some toxic borrowings in Angers Loire Métropole [which was presided by Mr. Antonini] in foreign currencies, like yen or dollar. But how could we finance the tramway scheme or the Biopole when state allocations were decreasing? Who was rather clever to forecast the subprime crisis?", asks André Despagnet.

A few days ago, the general secretary of the socialists in Maine-et-Loire, Grégory Blanc, was also criticized by Jean-Claude Antonini and Frédéric Béatse. Jean-Luc Rotureau, socialist dissident, has been excluded from the party. The former mayor of Bouchemaine, Anne-Sophie Hocquet de Lajartre, also blamed the decision-makers of that political community to behave as "barons". Visibly, the wounds from the electoral defeat are now open and will take time to heal [cicatriser].

28 April, 2014

Pictures of an inhibition

La foire exposition d'Angers qui se tient jusqu'au 1er mai inclus a ménagé un espace à une exposition photographique consacrée aux anciens salariés d'Angers Technicolor. Cette entreprise qui a employé plusieurs milliers de personnes et fut l'un des emblèmes de l'industrialisation de l'Angers d'après-guerre a définitivement fermé ses portes en octobre 2012. A travers les photos de ces hommes et femmes encore inhibés par ce traumatisme, l'exposition suscite une réflexion sur l'avenir économique de la ville et de ses habitants et fait en cela oeuvre utile. 

Credit : Marc Leclerc in Foire d'Angers
Angers Technicolor, the symbol of post-war years industrialisation of the city, which closed its doors in october 2012, is the issue of a photographical exhibition hosted by the town fair from April 26th to May 1st. That look towards a sad event - 350 employees lost their jobs - is due to Marc Leclerc, amateur photographer who "shot" the former employees of that factory, which, at its peak, gave work to more than 3,000 persons. Those pictures look to express the disbelief [incrédulité] of the last men and women of Angers Technicolor who passed there until 10, 20, or even maybe more than 30 years.

The persons are pictured alone in their former office or workshop. Their immobility make them look as statues. The characters look to be confused and for good reason : with the disappearance of their job, a new, and for most of them, difficult period of their life has started given their are in their fifty. As for the offices and workshops, they are empty. The activity they hosted has vanished. There are no materials, no tools or files. The place looks to be a museum and already belongs to the past.

But the photographical exhibition, through the faces of its characters, asks questions about what happened to them but also to Angers and its inhabitants and above all what is going to happen? Is the industry disappearance something unavoidable ? What is the economic fate of the city and its population? The exhibition is so very current because its theme, the loss of Angers competitiveness, was at the core of the last municipal campaign. The tribute paid by Marc Leclerc to the victims of such a drama may be very stimulating for the necessary reflections in the years to come.

27 April, 2014

Jean-Claude Antonini, former Angers mayor, settles accounts

L'ancien maire d'Angers règle ses comptes. - La défaite de la gauche aux dernières élections municipales n'est visiblement pas encore digérée, encore moins analysée et ne sera vraisemblablement pas surmontée avant longtemps. Pour Jean-Claude Antonini, ancien maire socialiste d'Angers, l'heure est pour l'instant aux explications. Certains hommes de gauche en prennent pour leur grade. Depuis sa défaite, la gauche angevine n'a pas encore quitté le stade de l'émotion pour celui de l'analyse.

Jean-Claude Antonini
The defeat of the Angers left at the last municipal elections is far from to be analysed and to be swallowed by its former represen-tatives. But the recons-truction of the city left forces is something unthinkable now, and for a while. Those can be some of the feelings expressed by a interview Jean-Claude Antonini, former mayor, gave to the daily Ouest-France. On a political standpoint, the defeat of the left forces at the 2014 municipal ballots has been lived as "a slap" [gifle], reminds Mr. Antonini  : "Yes, that defeat is unfortunate, but do not analyse it under the influence of emotion".

Frédéric Béatse
The main actors, within the Angers left, of that outcome, Frédéric Béatse, Jean-Claude Antonini's heir and Jean-Luc Rotureau, former deputy-mayor of these, are differently considered... Regarding Mr. Béatse, the former Angers mayor indicates (was it his part to tell that?) "he is very affected by that defeat. Will he resurface one day? In politics, there is never death, except the physical death", warns Jean-Claude Antonini, former general practitioner. His opinion is much more entrenched [catégorique] regarding Mr. Rotureau whose involvement in the ballots weakened Mr. Béatse's chances : "I do not know anymore that man.I do not know who he is. For me he doesn't exist anymore", sends Mr. Antonini who rubs in it [enfonce le clou] : "That said, I think he was not the cause of the defeat, but he certainly contributed to the final gap [between Frédéric Béatse and Christophe Béchu]".

Grégory Blanc
Other characters of that political tragedy for the left are not spared by Jean-Claude Antonini : André Despagnet, his former deputy-mayor in charge of finances who criticized the level of Angers city investments, and Grégory Blanc, the current Maine-et-Loire delegate of the socialist party, Mr. Antonini blames for his lack of support to Frédéric Béatse's candidacy. After he resigned from the Angers mayor office in 2012, Mr. Antonini left the presidency of Angers Loire Métropole, now entrusted to Christophe Béchu. That one said in his inaugural speech as president of Alm he will, in spite of political differencies, solicit the experience of his predecessor.

26 April, 2014

Christophe Béchu "decision-timer" of Angers Loire Métropole board

Christophe Béchu, maître du temps de décision au conseil d'Angers Loire Métropole. - La première session du nouveau conseil communautaire d'Angers Loire Métropole a été l'occasion d'un discrète mais réelle critique de son président, Christophe Béchu, à propos du mode de décision dans cette instance. Alors qu'il était le seul candidat à la présidence, il n'a pas fallu moins de plusieurs dizaines de minutes au conseil communautaire pour mener à bien, certes dans les règles, une élection pourtant sans surprise. 

Credit Pictures : Angers Loire Métropole
The first session of the new Angers Loire Métropole board whose members have been recently elected as mayors or deputy mayors has given to its new president, Christophe Béchu, the opportunity of a rant about the time necessary to vote a decision. The decision regarding the choice of a president, the first the Alm board had to make, was an important one for political and institutional reasons. But, it was rather easy and without surprise given only Mr. Béchu was the only candidate. So, the worry of efficiency would have legitimated a simple vote by show of hands.

But... it's not what the regulations order. So after a speech of Marc Goua, Trélazé mayor and elder of the members, it was necessary to designate a secretary and two scrutineers, then to give time to the voters to write on a bulletin their choice, then to collect the bulletins, then to count the votes and finally to annouce the result.... Dozens of minutes were necessary to fulfill those formalities in spite of a total absence of suspense. Maybe a third of the time of the meeting has been dedicated and, what has been implicitely suggested by Mr. Béchu, wasted in terms of time and... money. Are such rules useful when there is only on candidate to the office?

In his final speech after his election, the new decision-maker let be understood that, for efficiency and common sense, such formalities would have to be reconsidered or, at least, avoided. From now on, a permanent committee gathering all Angers Loire Métropole mayors will make all the ordinary decisions before the sessions of the board. That is wise and indicates that in very numerous fields and institutions, savings are possible as well as necessary and will give resources to the most important task, and even challenge of the Alm board term : the economic development.

Charity begins at home.

25 April, 2014

Christophe Béchu, new Angers Loire Métropole president, wants to stimulate economy but with lesser resources

Sitôt élu à la présidence d'Angers Loire Métropole, le maire d'Angers, Christophe Béchu, a annoncé ses priorités. La première, très consensuelle, sera le développement économique. Celui-ci est d'autant plus indispensable qu'il fournira à Alm les ressources dont elle a besoin alors qu'il est acquis que les dotations de l'Etat iront en diminuant. Le mode de gouvernance de cette institution préservera le travail collectif : les groupements par communes ou sensibilités politiques resteront proscrits. Mais le nouveau président en a visiblement marre du formalisme avec lequel se prennent les décisions s'appuyant sur celui de... sa propre élection.

Credit picture : Angers Loire Métropole
The task will be hard and and the resources will be scarce. Christophe Béchu, elected on April 24th, president of the board of the 33 towns and villages members of Angers Loire Métropole (Alm), is eager to get to the heart of the matter : the economic development. "This is the top priority of our authority", he said after his election, aware that there is a tough competition between the economic areas and Alm needs fiscal resources to work. "The economic development is the first solidarity. An additional economic development is a lesser need for solidarity", outlined Mr. Béchu who promised "strategy, instruments and leverages" and also "resources sharing". A first exemple of that way is the concentration of the economy, research and higher education fields in the Alm area "in a single hand". His standpoint was not criticized by his opposition.

Housing will be another issue of attention for the Alm board. "We have to focus on the goals and principles of the building economy. The costs of flats or houses are restraining the purchases. We have to consider the urban forms, the quantity and the quality of the offer", announced the president which also stressed that regarding the second tramway line, "it will not be longer than 8 km". Its financing and route will be studied soon, stated Mr. Béchu who, as Marc Goua, Trélazé mayor and member of parliament reminded, "the state allocations will be cut". That new equation - to stimulate the economic development with lesser resources - will be the topic of a seminar of the members of the Alm board dedicated to finances.

The new president also disclosed that the applicable governance method under Jean-Claude Antonini's term will no change : the rules and regulations of the board will still prohibit the constitution of political or geographical groups of towns or villages. "We are not here to work for personal of municipal interests" warned Mr. Béchu who urged the members to think about the commom stakes they had through Alm. In order to prevent critics about the fact the Angers mayor will manage Alm, the president dispatched the 15 deputy-presidencies between Angers (6) and others members (9). Some of them have been entrusted to left mayors. Those, through Mr. Goua, stressed that they will not give to the Alm president "carte blanche".

Another point, more practical but quite symbolic, is the method of decision. Obviously, Christophe Béchu wants efficiency and the 20 mn necessary to elect him at the presidency despite the fact he was the only candidate is something he doesn't want to see anymore. "Now, get back to work", he concluded.

24 April, 2014

According to some medias, a return to favour of Valérie Trierweiler can't be ruled out

A la faveur de la prochaine publication d'un livre sur les relations entre le président de la république et la gent féminine, les rumeurs vont bon train à propos d'une réconciliation entre François Hollande et l'ex-première dame, l'Angevine Valérie Trierweiler. L'Express et Bfmtv s'en sont faits l'écho. Le "vaudeville d'Etat" intéresse bien sur les médias étrangers. 

The weekly L'Express has in its latest issue dedicated a coverage to the relationships between the French president, François Hollande, with women and, among them, the Angers native Valérie Trierweiler, herself editor in Paris Match. A book written by the editor in chief of L'Express, soon published, "The president who wanted to live his lifes", is about to relate the circumstances of the split between Mr. Hollande and his partner... But according to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, which published an article about a "Vodevil de Estado", the affair between the French president and the editor has maybe not ended!

According to El  Mundo, Mrs. Karlin "dares to conjecture the possibility of a reconciliation between Hollande and his 'thrown out of the window' first girlfriend, given some gestures that the author has spoted in his relationship during the last months". "Since several weeks, the behaviour of the president vis-à-vis his former partner look to have changed", suggests Mrs Karlin who goes on "A series of gestures lead to think that the feelings of the president for Mrs. Trierweiler are far from being vanished"...

The case also led the French tv channel Bfmtv to highlight that Valérie Trierweiler doesn't rule out nothing in its most next future : neither to become friend again with her former companion, nor to publish a book about her experience as first lady. According to El Mundo, maybe the state vaudeville is not over.

23 April, 2014

Numerous and difficult issues await to be tackled by the new board of Angers Loire Métropole

Des sujets difficiles et nombreux attendent d'être traités par le le nouveau conseil d'Angers Loire Métropole.- Le nouveau conseil communautaire d'Angers Loire Métropole qui doit se réunir le 24 avril dans sa nouvelle composition devra élire son président lequel sera, vraisemblablement, le récent maire d'Angers, Christophe Béchu. Celui-ci pourrait avoir assez rapidement à prendre à bras le corps un certain nombre de sujets dont plusieurs ont différencié les candidats lors de la dernière campagne électorale. Le plus récent est l'avenir du projet de seconde ligne de tramway. Mais d'autres sont tout aussi importants : le site industriel Technicolor, le marché immobilier, l'aéroport et, last but no least, les finances.

The board of Angers Loire Métropole, gathering all the mayors of towns and villages members of that
authority, is due to elect a new president after the end of the term of Jean-Claude Antonini. Christophe Béchu, new Angers mayor, the most likely successor of Mr. Antonini, will have to tackle now several important issues which were at the centre of the last electoral campaign. The most recent one is the project of a second tramway line which, according to Marc Goua, Trélazé mayor, former deputy president of Angers Loire Métropole and himself member of parliament, could be jeopardized because of the disappearance of public allocations from the French state.

But other topics could focus the debate of the Alm board and even keep its attention in the months to come. One of those is the situation of the real estate market. During his electoral campaign, the Angers mayor stressed that too new appartments were planned, or in course of construction, or already for sale in town and around. Their number could sum up to more than 4,000. So measures could be implemented by the new Angers city council in order to reach a balance between offer and demand. Another topic is the future of the former Angers Technicolor site, now property of Angers Loire Métropole which was looking for some opportunities to re-industrialize the place. The manufacture of the "intelligent meters" for Electricité de France was mentioned by the former Angers mayor, Frédéric Béatse, but, until now, nothing has been realized.

The future of the Angers Marcé airport could also to be discussed. The facility is running with some
irregularity and seasonal flights towards a handful destinations are its main activity. Last but no least, the financial situation of Angers Loire Métropole will be one of the issues of the inaugural session of Alm (an audit is planned). The new Angers mayor never concealed his will to work with a reduced number of structures in the fields of economy, tourism or layouts. The potential savings with such a policy could lead to some organisational adjustments in the months to come, maybe in partnership with the Maine-et-Loire Conseil général.

22 April, 2014

Beyond the changes of persons, a deep political change is looming between Angers and Maine et Loire

Au delà des personnes, un changement politique de fond se profile entre Angers et le Maine et Loire. - L'élection de Christophe Béchu à la mairie d'Angers est le prélude à une série d'arrivées et de départs à la tête d'importantes institutions du département : Angers Loire Métropole et le Conseil général de Maine et Loire. Mais au-delà de ces successions, un changement en profondeur se profile, que certains attendaient depuis près de quarante ans.

The election of Christophe Béchu as Angers mayor is about to trigger changes at the head of other Maine-et-Loire authorities. On April 24th, the Angers Loire Métropole board, constituted by the mayors of the cities and villages surrounding Angers, will choose, given the office of Jean-Claude Antonini, the previous president is ending, a new leader. Christophe Béchu will be the most likely president. On the following day, the same representative will have to resign from the office of president of the Conseil general, in accordance with the law on holding multiple offices. Christan Gillet, the current deputy president of that authority will probably come after Mr. Béchu.

But those changes imply a more important one. For the first times for decades, there will be political concordances between the main public offices in the department : Christian Gillet and Christophe Béchu belong to the same political trend while since 1977, angers mayors and Conseil general president were not from the same political side. Even if Mr. Gillet is centrist and Mr. Béchu conservative both are opponents to the French government. Such an evolution could favour more cooperation between the Conseil general and Angers agglomeration as well as Angers city what could be very useful given the necessity of the Maine-et-Loire to attract companies and jobs.

About two years ago, when the Angers Technicolor closure became unavoidable, Maine-et-Loire and Angers repre-sentatives blamed each other for a failure in cooperation (But were persons coming from different political origins able or eager "to hunt in hounds" as Mr. Antonini wished?). If those critics were true, they will not be possible up from now given the political convergences, even complete similarity between the different holders of offices. What is, all key figures of political parties put aside, rather favourable for efficacy.

21 April, 2014

The very existence of the second tramway line would now be at stake

Les doutes sur la faisabilité de la second ligne de tramway ont resurgi et se sont même renforcés. Ce n'est plus seulement le calendrier ou la longueur de la ligne qui sont en cause, mais son existence même. Selon Marc Goua, jusque là vice président d'Angers agglomération, député et membre de la commission des finances à l'assemblée nationale, l'Etat n'accordera aucune dotation au projet. Un trou de 36 millions d'euros ferait "dérailler" la ligne B.

After suspicions were raised one and a half month ago about the lengh and the calendar of the second Angers tramway line, new statements from a Maine-et-Loire member of Parliament suggest that the very existence of that scheme is now in question. In a interview to the daily Le Courrier de l'Ouest, Marc Goua, Trélazé mayor and member of the Angers agglomeration board, emphasized that "The problem, it's the financing. In this day and age, I do not see how we can finance the second line. Unless mistake or omission, the state allocations, we can't expect them. However, a single line, it's not sufficient".

Out of the estimated overall cost of the scheme, 300 millions euros, 10% have to be financed by the state, let 36 millions euros, and moreover not through loans, but through grants. If that source would come to disappear, the project would probably become impracticable. Mr. Goua, knows what he is talking about : as deputy in a majority side, he is member of the finances commission at the national assembly, so well aware about France current budgetary difficulties. And maybe the election of Christophe Béchu, himself member of parliament but in the minority side, as Angers mayor, is something the government was not pleased with.

The withdrawal of the second line project would make useless all the debates and arguments between candidates during the electoral campaign but above all would be a very severe blow to the equipment of the town and to its attractiveness in the years to come.

20 April, 2014

Terra Botanica takes root with a new strategy

Terra Botanica a rouvert ses portes le 19 avril. Cette 5ème saison est surtout la première d'une période de cinq ans au terme de laquelle ce parc sur le thème du végétal devra atteindre "la cîme" des 300 000 visiteurs. A travers deux nouvelles animations, les dirigeants mettent en place une nouvelle stratégie destinée à élargir l'audience de Terra Botanica qui ne veut plus être considéré comme un jardin géant mais ne veut pas non plus devenir un parc d'attractions.

Terra Botanica, the theme park dedicated to the vegetable universe located in Angers, has opened its doors on April 19th, and started its fifth season. But that one is also, and maybe above all, the first of a five year period which has to take end with the achievement of profitability. According to Jean-Pierre Chavassieux, the president of the company running the facility, itself owned by regional authorities, the attendance must reach 300 000 visitors in 2019. After 260 000 visitors in 2010, 301 000 in 2011, but 270 000 in 2012 and 240 000 last year (the break-even point is 240 000), the park is taking up with a new approach.

"We noticed that the park was to much considered as a simple garden. We probably over communicated about the vegetable dimension. But the park is much more than that. But we want it to be seen as a fun and family location. It is already reality and it will become more and more", says Mr. Chavassieux. That new approach is implemented through two innovations the Amazon (a movie in four dimensions) and the "amber rush" which gathers children and their parents and so is due to enlarge the attendance of the park. "Every year, Terra Botanica will set up new activities and new laying out".

Credit pictures : Terra Botanica
In 2014, Terra Botanica has widened its vegetable collection : a giant bonsaï, new pines, thousands of fuchsias, dahlias and amaryllis have been planted in that facility "which does not want to be anymore a garden but neither an amusement park", points out Jean-Pierre Chavassieux who bets on a positioning less vegetable, more human and more profitable (but its website is still only in French). May the amber lead the crush!

19 April, 2014

The Angers socialists have not yet put with their municipal defeat

Les socialistes angevins se sont retrouvés pour la première fois depuis la défaite de leurs leaders aux élections municipales d'Angers. Si les sujets qui fâchent ne manquaient pas, leur secrétaire général, Grégory Blanc, a réussi à sauver les apparences et à préserver l'unité des militants. Ceux-ci ont cependant adopté une feuille de route appelant à des changements dans le projet politique et dans les modes de fonctionnement interne. Les problèmes restent donc entiers.

Grégory Blanc
A fortnight after their leaders have been defeated at the municipal elections, and so loose the 37 years of Angers city governance, the local members of he Parti socialiste (Ps) gathered on April 16th for first explanations. The meeting should have been tense given the scale of the electoral outcome because Frédéric Béatse, the outgoing mayor, was left behind his challenger, then new mayor, Christophe Béchu by nearly 10 points, while that one was ahead in a large majority of Angers polling stations.

The consequencies of the split between Mr. Béatse and his left rival, Jean-Luc Rotureau, inside the former city council majority as the lack of support from the Angers Ps general secretary, Grégory Blanc, in favor of the former mayor, were said to be some of the topics due to be discussed, let alone the deafening statements about "feudal behaviours" inside the party from the former Bouchemaine socialist mayor, also ousted, Anne-Sophie Hocquet de Lajartre...

Frédéric Béatse
In spite of those difficult conditions, it seems that the Maine-et-Loire socialist leader, Mr. Blanc, succeeded in keeping up appearances and to save the unity of the department members. That doesn't nevertheless mean that changes are out of question. In a press release, the Angevins socialists pointed out that "carrying on and speeding up the renovation work already begun. Reformation of the project, renovation of our methods of work... here is our roadmap".

But such an evolution could be annihilated as long as the French socialist government will not reverse its drop in opinion polls, itself due to its lack of results on issues people consider as major : growth and unemployment. At the national level, the socialists have just choosen a new leader who will need some time to refresh the movement after the municipal stunning defeat. The start of the "self-examination" wished by Grégory Blanc could so be delayed for months, and their results for more time...

18 April, 2014

Scabies inside Angers prison looks impossible to eradicate

Les conditions de vie de la prison d'Angers continuent de défrayer la chronique... extra-judiciaire. La gale s'est propagée dans l'établissement pénitentiaire situé près du centre ville à proximité immédiate de logements sociaux et elle parait, selon le corps médical, impossible à éradiquer. La vétusté de ce bâtiment et son état de délabrement lui laissent-ils un avenir? Est-ce même souhaitable? 

The current life conditions for inmates in the Angers prison are resurfacing while the French justice minister is said to decide, before the end of summer, if that penitenciary facility, built in 1856, more than 158 years ago, will be be renovated, and will remain located close to the city centre, or will be transfered, the current jail being then converted into another use. Scabies, a contagious skin infection, is no longer eradicated in the prison for ten years!

"The issue is not new", reminds in Ouest-France the doctor Clotilde Rougé-Maillard, head of forensics (legal medecine) at the Angers hospital who nevertheless tempers her standpoint : "This is not an epidemic but and an endemic" meaning that the infection is maintained in the penal population because needs for external inputs are not fulfilled. If the age of the prison and its extremely poor state are propicious to the disease, the over-population, and the over-closeness which comes from it, are probably the most likely origins of the infection. Where there are 243 spaces, the number of inmates is 483, an excess soaring around 100%!

Credit Picture : Corinne Bouchoux
All Angers represen-tatives, whatever be their political orientation, and lawyers have for a long time condemned such circumstances, pointed out the emergency to act and submitted a transfer project of the facility from Angers towards Trélazé. The latest medical news give them reason. The prison is surrounded by social housing. The new mayor, Christophe Béchu, included in his platform, and now in his roadmap, the departure of the jail and its transformation in a contemporary art museum.

It is not sure the renovation of the current facility would be the more efficient way to eradicate the scabies endemic and the less costly for the public finances. Moreover, if such a "content" (contemporay art) evokes future, the "containers" (the museum) refers to past. Would the best solution be to make a clean sweep of the past?

17 April, 2014

Mca Finance, the blue chip Angers portfolio management company, once again rewarded

 La société angevine de gestion de portefeuille Mca Finance vient d'être récompensée par Thomson Reuters, groupe mondial d'information professionnelle, financière et juridique, pour sa gestion de fonds. Il y a quelque mois, cet opérateur angevin agréé par l'Autorité des marchés financiers avait été récompensé par un autre groupe de presse d'actualité économique et financière, l'Agefi.

McaFinance, the Angers porfolio management company, has been rewarded for its three years management of a funds called "Pbl growth" in the Lipper Fund Award 2014, granted by the rating agency Thomson Reuters. That is the second aknowledgment Mca Finances receives in a few months. In November 2013, that little and independant company located on Paul Bert street and created in 1987, had already got a recognition by the Agefi, the French economic and financial news group, for its management of another funds, Mca Gestoblig, on a three years period.

Managed by Patrick Creuzé, Catherine Dagorn and Michel Berson, Mca Finance, holder of an authorization from the French Autorité des marchés financiers, is one of the rare independant companies in Western France whose capital belongs the company founders and executives. It manages shares, bonds, derivative instruments and options, all equities used on the financial markets. Its twelve employees mainly work for customers coming from Western France and Paris agglomeration. The assets entrusted to Mca finance sum up 350 millions euros and the company how know is nation wide admitted by its peers. 

The Mca finance executive in charge of the financial instruments lately awarded is Pierre-Yves Le Goff (for the Pbl growth) while another one, Cyril Renaudin, got a similar prize last November.

16 April, 2014

Kfc looks ok for Angers

Déjà annoncée voici trois ans, l'arrivée à Angers de la chaîne américaine Kentucky Fried Chickens pourrait se concrétiser fin 2014 début 2015. Le souhait de la ville d'accueillir des enseignes internationales avait été évoqué par le maire d'Angers lors de la campagne électorale. Un temps pressentie dans le quartier Saint-Serge, l'implantation verrait le jour au sein de la zone commerciale Espace Anjou.

A new symbol of the English-speaking countries should arrive in Angers. After the McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Manhattan'store fast food counters, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the American restaurants chain should open a new outlet in Angers at the end of the year or at the beginning of the next. The counter would set up in the commercial area Espace Anjou. A planning permission has been submitted to the Angers town hall last February for that first outlet. The study of the Kfc file should last several months but should be favourably considered.

The news of an arrival of Kfc was already reported in spring 2011 and later, Christophe Béchu, Angers mayor, made clear during his electoral campaign that he wanted a new Us brand be soon active in the city. Kfc and Starbucks were quoted. The Us chain is already active in Maine-et-Loire (at Cholet) as well as in Western cities like Nantes and Le Mans. The Kfc's leading product is pressure fried chicken pieces, seasoned with Sander's recipe of herbs and spices. The constituents of the recipe are secret. The chain arrived in France in 1991 and employs around 2,000 persons in around 160 restaurants.

Headquartered in Louisville (Kentucky, Usa), Kfc is the second world largest restaurant chain (according to the sales) after McDonald's with 18,875 outlets in 118 countries as of December 2013. The company is a subsidiary of an American restaurant holding which also owns Pizza Hut. KFC was founded by Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from a roadside restaurant in that Us state during the Great Depression. The founder of Kfc branded himself as "Colonel Sanders" and became a prominent figure of American cultural history and his image remains widely put forward in Kfc communication.

15 April, 2014

The town councillors duly act of "difficult times" through their allocations and the city finances

A l'exception de quelques petites remarques faites par la nouvelle opposition, le deuxième conseil municipal de la mandature s'est déroulée de manière plutôt apaisée, contrastant en cela, avec les dernières journées de la campagne électorale. L'assemblée a voté une baisse de 5% des indemnités de fonctions de ses membres par rapport à celles versées à la précédente assemblée, rigueur des temps oblige, et nommé tous ses représentants. Mais d'autres sujets plus politiques sont attendus, tels la concertation sur les rythmes scolaires et l'audit sur les finances de la ville. Les débats pourraient devenir moins consensuels.

Christophe Béchu
After an intense, and sometimes tough, electoral campaign, the second session of the city council, on April 14th, took place without arguments between the new majority and minority. A fortnight after the political swing from left to right, the topics due to be discussed that day had no political content, except the allocations the members of the assembly will receive during the term (6 years). The town councillors decided that their office allocations will be lowered by 5% compared with those the city council members got during the previous term. "In difficult times, we have to make efforts", stated the mayor, Christophe Béchu.

Michelle Moreau
The allocation he will personaly receive has been set at 2 756 euros (gross) per month. If such an anmount is twice less important than Frédéric Béatse's allocation, the decrease is due to the rules limitating the holding of multiple offices and the allocations allocation (Mr. Béchu, as senator, already receives 7 100 euros). The mayor also stated that his cabinet will be constituted by five persons.

The first deputy mayor, Michelle Moreau, will receive the same amount (2 756 euros) while the others 20 deputy mayors will get 2 000 euros, the 21 delegate town councillors 700 euros and the simple town councillors (i.e. members of the minority) 285 euros. The total amount of the offices allocations paid to all the town councillors are by 25% below the upper limit set by the law for an assembly of 55 persons (they were 59 until march 2014).

Gilles Mahé
A new article will be included in the rules of the Angers city council making that the office allocations will be linked to the assiduousness. A little sparring took place between the mayor and Gilles Mahé, town councillor (and former deputy mayor) about the statements of assets "Mine is already published since February", answered Christophe Béchu who added that his deputy mayor will have to month to do the same.

Luc Belot
After the mayor invited the city council to appoint its delegates in dozens of authorities connected to the Angers town hall, that one also announced that two more political issues will be on the agenda of the next session planned on May 26th : the audit about the finances of Angers city and another one about the scholar rythms. About the scholar rythms, the assembly decided that a consultation would be launched to families, teachers and associations what led Luc Belot, former deputy mayor and now town councillor, to remind that "such a work had already been implemented". But the mayor pointed out that an internet site would be opened to collect the opinions of people.

Regarding the financial audit, it will tackle the operating expenses of the city, the investments, the debt and the room for manoeuvre. "We wish that the purchaser of the survey will work on speficifications instead of accusations", warned for the minority, Anthony Taillefait. So the next meetings could be more strained...

14 April, 2014

The reduction of the number of French regions may constitute a turning point for Angers

Les nouvelles autorités angevines devront, à un moment ou à un autre, exprimer leur point de vue à propos du redécoupage régional que le gouvernement français veut mettre en place à compter de 2017. Deux sources d'informations convergent à propos d'un démantèlement des Pays de la Loire, Angers et le Maine-et-Loire rejoignant une région Centre élargie dans laquelle la cité du Roi René passerait, en nombre d'habitants, du deuxième au troisième rang et s'éloignerait du centre de décisions. Une session extraordinaire du Conseil régional a été convoquée le 13 mai. 

The post World War II Angers history could be at a turning point given the reduction of the number of the
current 22 regions the new French government has recently decided to tackle. A few days ago, the Challenges magazine has published a map of 12 regions which is said that it could be the one choosen by Manuel Valls, the new prime minister. According to that map, the Pays de la Loire region, of which the Maine-et-Loire and so Angers are parts, will purely and solely be dismantled. Such an evolution looks to be believable because the president of the Pays de la Loire authority, Jacques Auxiette, has called in an extraordinary session of the Conseil régional saying that "the unity of the {region was} at stake".

The governmental scheme plans to include the Maine-et-Loire department (as the Sarthe and the Mayenne) in an enlarged Centre region and so locates Angers at the border of it. The former Pays de la Loire capital, Nantes would join an enlarged Brittany region in which the Loire-Atlantique department was part before the WW2 while the Vendée would become part of a Aquitaine-Limousin region.  Angers and Nantes never have in the past close and confident relations and the first was often blamed by the second to siphon the assets of Angers which was the second town of that territory.

According to Insee datas, Angers and its surroundings (216 000 inhabitants) would not keep the same rank in the Centre region, in which Tours would be first (346 000) and Orléans the second (270 000). If Angers is located at 90 km from Nantes, about 130 km separate Angers and Tours. The new Angers mayor, Christophe Béchu, had disclosed a few months ago he was not in favour of the unification of the Maine et Loire in a widened Centre region because the city would then be at the doundaries of it. In front a such an hypothesis, due to be implemented from 2017, the Angers city could only rely on itself for getting more economical development. But is that new?

13 April, 2014

The boring atmosphere of Angers on Sundays pointed out in the news

Le Courrier de l'Ouest a publié dans son édition dominicale un article dans lequel il liste un certain nombre d'activités culturelles auxquelles ses lecteurs peuvent prendre intérêt : musées, expositions, concerts, théâtre. Mais la partie la plus intéressante de l'article, voire même la plus intriguante, est son titre : "Angers quoi faire pour ne pas s'ennuyer le dimanche". Le quotidien écrit noir sur blanc que la ville est propice à l'ennui le 7ème jour. Le constat n'avait jamais été admis par la précédente municipalité. La nouvelle verra-t-elle les choses sous un autre angle?

The daily Le Courrier de l'Ouest published on its weekend issue an article telling to its readers what was possible to see in Angers and around on Sunday.  Museum, concert, exhibition and theatre were some of the possible activities available for families within the city and beyond. But, the content of the article is maybe not its most interesting part. What is intriguing is... the title : "Angers, what to do in order not to get bored that Sunday".

The newspaper admits that on Sunday, the day the (former) Angers representatives wanted as a period dedicated by the inhabitants to their families instead of going for shoppping, can be for them a boring moment. Of course, some cultural leisures are possible but all of them are charged (the prices of the activities spotted by the Courrier range from 4 to 10 euros per person, more the costs of the gas needed to go to the places those events are located). The title may also suggest that without those events, Angers is a boring city on Sunday and for people, the risk to get bored all day long may come from the fact they will not attend or take part to the events listed by the daily.

But, why Angers should be a boring place on Sunday and would be a lively place during the other days? The big difference comes of course of the closure of the stores and if there is nothing to see or to buy, is it worth to go to down town? The atmosphere of the city centre is rather sad when all the front windows are not lighted, when the store doors are shut and the shop owners and customers away. It could be up to the new municipal team to stimulate hustle and bustle, as well as business, in the core of the city which desperately need both of them.

The "Tout Angers bouge" sport event hits the trails

La popularité des trails urbains de l'opération "Tout Angers bouge" ne se dément pas. En quelques semaines, les organisateurs ont clôturé les incriptions à trois des quatre courses, le nombre maximal de participants étant atteint. La Maine et ses rives sont au coeur de l'événement de même que la possibilité d'utiliser l'espace urbain à des fins sportives. La nouvelle municipalité devra sans doute intégrer ces nouvelles visions du coeur de ville dans ses projets.

The 2014 edition of "Tout Angers bouge", planned on June 8th, is already closed. Opened on February 20th, the registrations for the Discovery trail, the Cité trail and the Roi René trail have been closed. On March 18th,  the organizers noticed that the maximum number of competitors had been reached for the second (11 km) and the third (22 km) trials : 1 100 persons. And on April 10th, no more registrations were possible for the Discover trail (8 km). For the last trail ( The Dukes trail on 43 km), "a few bibs are still available", on April 10th.

Apparently, that sport event has conquered the interest of the inhabitants and competitors from other cities. Its originality probably comes from the trails which go throughout the city as well as its historical heritage and which "put back man in the centre of the public space" invaded by cars. So the banks of Maine and their surrondings will display a very different aspect. A sports village will be set up on the Jean Turc walk where dozens of Angers sports associations will explain their activities. The speed way will be closed and people will have access to the river. The event was largely used by the former city council to promote its project regarding the Maine banks reconquest.

The new municipal team had announced in its programme that the content of the scheme and its planning will be changed. But the attendance recorded by Tout Angers bouge suggests that a new lay out of the place is considered by the Angevins as something necessary. 

11 April, 2014

Blast wave inside the Angers section of the Parti socialiste after the municipal defeat

Le basculement à droite de la ville d'Angers après quelque 37 ans de gouvernance socialiste commence à produire une onde de choc au sein du parti jusque là dominant. La dernière démission d'Anne-Sophie Hocquet de Lajartre, maire socialiste battue à Bouchemaine, fait écho à celle de Jean-Luc Rotureau. De son côté, Frédéric Béatse, ancien maire d'Angers, a publiquement fait état de son amertume au sujet de sa mise à l'écart des candidats déjà annoncés par le secrétaire angevin du Ps pour... 2020. Un autre figure proéminente, le député-maire de Trélazé, Marc Goua, reconnait que des erreurs ont été commises pendant la campagne

Grégory Blanc
The swing of the Angers city from left to right with the defeat of Frédéric Béatse and the election of Christophe Béchu is not, apparently, without consequences for the local section of the Parti socialiste. After the resignation of Jean-Luc Rotureau who failed to get primaries for the designation of the socialist candidate to the municipal elections, after the bitter observation Mr. Béatse expressed in the first session of the city council about the fact he would not be, neither than Mr. Rotureau, choosen by the Parti to be its candidate in 2020 municipal polls, another prominent character of the Angers socialist network has announced her departure. Anne-Sophie Hocquet de Lajartre, since March 30th former mayor of Bouchemaine, made public a letter she wrote to Grégory Blanc, the Maine-et-Loire socialist head, in which she informs him about her departure but also expresses several griefs regarding the behaviour of that political formation for the last years.

Anne-Sophie Hocquet de Lajartre (left), Frédéric Béatse (centre)
Mrs. Hoc-quet de Lajartre first admits she made a mistake in 2013 when she didn't publicly demanded that open primaries be organized in Angers : this is "one of my most important remorses for the term which just ended". But the former socialist member blames Mr. Blanc for having officialy dismissed that Frédéric Béatse and Jean-Luc Rotureau would not be the candidates the Parti socialiste would support in 2020. "How can we already decide who will be candidate in 2020 and who will not be?", asks the outgoing supporter who goes on "Saying that, I don't accuse the first federal secretary [Grégory Blanc] but those who prevented him to act and who decide about candidates like horses are choosen before a race. It's time for the party I'am leaving to get rid of feudal customs".

Another prominent socialist character in Maine-et-Loire, Marc Goua, re-elected as Trélazé mayor and
Marc Goua
member of parliament, made self-criticism after the municipal outcome : "mistakes have been punished : Jean-Luc Rotureau's case, the very clumsy letter sent between the inter-rounds (in which the former Angers mayors warns voters about negative consequences of a Christophe Béchu's election]. A local representative must be close to the people, explain, listen, what probably was not done at the time of the triumphal announcement of the implementation of the scholar rythms reform" led by the Angers socialist Mp, Luc Belot.

Luc Belot

Will those critics be taken into account? And if so, when? It looks very unlikely that will be soon because the European elections are in sight. A new defeat of Socialist could prompt some changes. A topic which made Christophe Béchu elected as Angers mayor.