Near Perpignan: search, excrement, water … The tired of mayors against travelers

About 500 caravans occupy private land in the municipalities of Sud Roussillon in the Pyrénées-Orientales. (© Illustration / Le Pays d’Auge)

Almost every year the topic comes up again. But this time these selected of Eastern Pyrenees say “stop”. That six mayors of the Sud Roussillon community of municipalities, south of Perpignan, launched this Thursday a great rantduring a press conference where they expressed their Tired of, against illegal settlement of Traveler on private land and the many consequences that follow from the passage of these societies.

Pyrénées-Orientales: elected representatives “discouraged” by travelers

“Today it is a call for help, a call for help that we are sending to the state.” mayor of Saint Cyprien, and chairman of the community of municipalities South Roussillon, Thierry Del Poso does not hide his fatigue. A feeling is shared by his five neighboring colleagues, the mayors from Alenya, Corneilla-del-Vercol, Latour-Bas-Elne, Montescot and Theza, all gathered in front of the press, Thursday, July 21st.

The reason for this anger and of this discouragement ? Their powerlessness in the face of a situation that repeats itself year after year without changing: illegal installation travelers on land of their municipality, which was not planned for this reception, as well as all the problems encountered during the random passage of these hundreds of caravans.

Thierry Del Poso Mayor of Saint-Cyprien and President of the Municipalities of Sud Roussillon, here surrounded by Jean-André Magdalou, Mayor of Alenya, and Christophe Manas, Mayor of Corneilla-del-Vercol.
Thierry Del Poso Mayor of Saint-Cyprien and President of the Municipalities of Sud Roussillon, here surrounded by Jean-André Magdalou, Mayor of Alenya, and Christophe Manas, Mayor of Corneilla-del-Vercol. (© Emilien Vicens / Actu Perpignan)

Illegal installations on private and sometimes protected land

“The settlement of travelers is not not a problem in itself. We respect these communities, which have always been a part of the department’s history. But we ask for mutual respectand this respect, we do not have ”, sums up Thierry Del Poso.

At the moment almost 500 vehicles totally illegally occupy private land within these six municipalities in the department. Private land, agricultural plots sometimes, but also often protected land, located in Natura 2000 sites and in natural areas of ecological, fauna and floristic interest (ZNIEFF):

“A group of 12 caravans are squatting the high-traffic area, the area intended for the reception of Travelers, which prevents other groups from settling there. The latter, which provides nearly a hundred seats, is currently useless. And in the meantime, the various groups of travelers have settled everywhere, in Corneilla-del-Vercol, at the Montescot exit, at the golf course in Saint-Cyprien or even the Chemin de la Varnède, ”explains Thierry Del Poso.

Waste, human excrement, waste of water …

But in addition to the only illegal installations, the elected representatives face one a myriad of problems, that they and their municipal services must manage and take over financially. An annual investment amounts to tens of thousands of euros as a minimum. Thierry Del Poso lists, sometimes with supporting images, the issues encountered:

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We end up with household waste, but also a massive presence of human excrement, in areas where residents are used to walking to enjoy, walking around. Water is also flowing, it is being diverted from fire hydrants to fill swimming pools and wash caravans, even though we are in a critical situation and we are asking the residents of P.-O. to make an effort for the use of water. For them, it is open bar. There are two weights, two measurements.

Thierry Del PosoMayor of Saint-Cyprien and President of Sud Roussillon
Surrounded in red, the swimming pools installed by travelers.
Surrounded in red, the swimming pools installed by travelers. (© South Roussillon CC)

“Radical measures” … but still inadequate

Faced with this situation, “which has reached a degree of indignity that is no longer tolerable”, the chairman of the community of municipalities South Roussillon intends to create drastic measures. And that is already what the mayor of Saint-Cyprien has undertaken, in his city, by trying to cut off the water from fire hydrants.

“The problem is that it is a switch that disconnects the water from the fire hydrants. After first cut, the travelers triggered the electrical cabinet nearby and took control of it. We do not have no way anymore, the municipality no longer has control, ”he continues.

“When you meet travelers’ referees, they give you Parisian lawyers on the phone”

“We put plasters on, we try to anticipate,” continues Christophe Manas, who had garbage containers moved to block the entrances to land in his town. But despite these few answers selected remains deprived. “When you meet travelers’ referees, the Parisian lawyers talk on the phone,” the mayor of Corneilla-de-Vercol continues.

“Every time, in any situation, we had problems“, adds Jean-Jacques Thibaut, Mayor of Théza, as Thierry Del Poso concludes:” It’s the law of the strongest, it’s fantastic “, launching a new call for public services. And while the postponement procedures, which are too slow, so far has no deterrent power, the mayors urge the legislature to look into the matter.

Pyrénées-Orientales: a significant shortage of seats for travelers

If the travelers present in the Pyrénées-Orientales so far did not want to answer our questions, then Actu Perpignan on the figures, which confirms that the latter suffers from a significant deficit of welcome places.

While the Pyrénées-Orientales provides a departmental plan to welcome travelers, the latter actually reports an obvious shortage of places. The department plan 2014-2020 already mentioned a deficit of more than 300 places.

The new plan, for the period 2021-2026, for its part, recommends the creation of 700 additional seats, to meet the large influx of travelers, every year from May to September, in the Pyrénées-Orientales, via the high traffic areas (AGP ) but also new so-called “relief” places, in cases where the first ones have already been filled.

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