“These subjects prevent me from sleeping”: water, roads, violence… the prefect of Hérault speaks without concessions

“These subjects prevent me from sleeping”: water, roads, violence... the prefect of Hérault speaks without concessions

The prefect responded to eight readers of Midi Libre. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

“These subjects prevent me from sleeping”: water, roads, violence... the prefect of Hérault speaks without concessions

Le préfet s'est plié à un exercice difficile de questions-réponses. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

“These subjects prevent me from sleeping”: water, roads, violence... the prefect of Hérault speaks without concessions

François-Xavier Lauch n'a éludé aucune question. Midi Libre – MICHAEL ESDOURRUBAILH

A prefect facing readers is rather rare. The State representative in Hérault accepted the principle proposed by Midi Libre. François-Xavier Lauch responded this Friday, April 19, to eight of them on subjects as concrete as drug trafficking, hyper-violence among young people, environmental issues, the lack of education. rsquo;water or even erosion. Two hours of discussions during which the prefect combined firmness, respect for civic values, listening, consultation and necessary pedagogy. Successful exercise.

Security, delinquency, trafficking: "Waves of increasingly gratuitous violence"

Operations “Clean place” emerged immediately during the meeting with the prefect of Hérault, at the initiative of Mohamed Seddik, police officer, and representative of the Unité Police union. &quot ;What objectives ?", are they called to be renewed while "the delinquents reinvest the land"  ? François-Xavier Lauch first responded that "my role is not to carry out communication operations, or short-term punch operations. This is not what our fellow citizens are asking for, especially the people who live in the neighborhoods concerned. In Hérault, we were one of the first departments to carry out this type of operation. During the first, in the Saint-Martin district of Montpellier, the name Place Nette had not yet been released. We carried out three in the police zone and two in the gendarmerie zone, we are rather ahead at the national level."

And by saying consider that, among other evils, "drug trafficking is rotting an entire part of our society" , and that it is "at the heart of all forms of delinquency", " that it diverts part of our youth from the republican format", the prefect assures that all of these actions have enabled "to close 93 businesses last year (night grocery stores, hookah bars, editor's note), whose ambition is clearly not to generate a turnover like the people who follow the rules. It’s considerable, we’ve reached 30 since the start of the year. And we want to do more or less a “Clean place” per month in the gendarmerie zone."

He adds: "The subject is still the consumer. I want to make those I called responsible, to make them react, the petty bourgeois people of the city centers. This is how it happens: people who buy drugs, it's an economy of rich people, and that leads to a parallel economy".

The question of staffing levels entered the debate. Hence this reminder from the prefect of Hérault: "We always want more police officers, gendarmes. But we have to remember where we come from, from a time when we closed brigades, units, we eliminated positions. In Hérault, we will have three additional gendarmerie brigades. Including one soon in Pignan. An administrative detention center will also open in Béziers, in 2027 I hope." Then, to be reassuring, to the mayor of Vias, Jordan Dartier, worried about the drop in gendarmerie numbers this summer in its very touristy commune, (at this time it went from 6,000 to 70,000 inhabitants), OJ obliges: "I am doing everything to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens this summer, like other summers. The strategy: concentrate forces where the Olympic Games are taking place, and find solutions elsewhere, where we will not have the usual mobile forces. Police officers and gendarmes will not take leave this summer, that more than compensates. I ask the mayors to be extremely liberal regarding municipal police numbers. And we are also going to mobilize reservists." Finally, on the subject of urban violence, after having mentioned the aggression "intolerable& quot; from Samara to Montpellier in front of his college, the prefect deplored "the effect of social networks", "separatist ideas which are progressing in the establishments", and "waves of ;more and more gratuitous violence in our society". And to a question from Lunelois Tahar Akermi on the responses to be provided other than repressive ones, François-Xavier Lauch agreed that "yes, the response cannot only be judicial or police. It’s also a question of education". And to also praise the action carried out in particular with "the means of the State", during experiments in neighborhoods, in Béziers La Devèze, for example, or in Lunel: "An extraordinary rehabilitation".

Roads, trains, electric cars: "Yes, the Com will go through and on schedule"

"The question of transport is essential in Hérault, a department which has grown gigantically, and this will continue until 2050, probably up to 1.5 million inhabitants. And it’s incredibly difficult for elected officials and public organizations to advance at the same pace of development as the arrival of the population". This established, Prefect Lauch noted that there were however "things not finished in terms of transport, particularly in the Montpellier Metropolis, we discuss it a lot with Michaël Delafosse. For this, we are launching multimodal studies, and the question of metropolitan regional express services, with the famous TER, because it is not just about regional trains, to better connect the Metropolis and its hinterland. country. These daily commuting exchanges remain intolerable. There are solutions, some which remain road-based, and others: electric vehicles, buses with a high level of service, trams that can be taken to certain places…hellip; " And it was ultimately on this subject of transport that the exchanges were to prove most lively. With Philippe Hippert, member of the Autre Com collective (for the western bypass of Montpellier), and Hélène Bras, from the Alerte LGV Thau association.

With the first, when he expressed his reservations about the Com  project: "I support this project. Not because I put my personal opinion into the subject, but because it is in the mobility orientation law, because it was the subject of a declaration of public utility, and because it is financed. I hear that people or associations are opposed to the project, but many actors on the ground tell me that it is a need for the territory. It’is always mind-boggling in our time to find yourself in the middle of the city when you come from the east of Montpellier to go on the A75 !" he exclaimed. Before carrying out: "The plans are precise, and my responsibility is to advance a project recognized as being of public utility, whose appeals are purged. And, yes, it will go to the end on the announced schedule: an environmental investigation launched this year, with new public consultation, preparatory work in 2025, and, we hope, commissioning at the end of the year. horizon 2029."

And add, smiling:"I was prefect of Tarn, it was I who authorized the A69. And I will have to issue an environmental authorization: I will be extremely vigilant with Vinci on the environmental conditions of the highway." The prefect of Hérault identically in the face of the reservations expressed by Hélène Bras on the route of the Montpellier-Perpignan high-speed line project. First by listing its assets "essential" and other advantages:"Connect France to Spain, open up the Occitanie region, decarbonize our modes of transport, ensure that freight can travel on the vacated route… And there too a fundamental step was taken with the declaration of public utility, there too a decision was taken. And at some point, you have to move forward."

Coastline, receding coastline: "I always seek consensus"

C’is a worried but determined prefect who addressed the environmental issues that affect the department, particularly in terms of the retreat of the coastline. On this subject, he was questioned by Hélios Sotomayor, elected official and resident of Vias on the seafront and testifies that he has seen 80 m of beach recede in half a century despite millions of dollars. ;euros invested by the State. To the point that the latter fears soon becoming "a climate refugee". & quot;These are subjects that scare me, responds with the sobriety that characterizes him, the representative of the State. These topics keep me from sleeping.

The prefect insists that "collectively come out of denial, that all this will be resolved by magic". Yes, global warming has impacts and yes we will have to take measures which will not always be popular: "Either we contain, we protect but I'm afraid that that only slows down the inevitable, or we push back the people who live by the sea". Jordan Dartier, mayor of Vias and its 30 campsites threatened by this rising water level, says he is sometimes perplexed by "the’abandonment" of State services and its "prefects passing through"for its commune which goes from 6,000 to nearly 70,000 people in the summer. And asks to be able to derogate from certain overly restrictive rules, such as the coastal law or the flood risk prevention plan…"I reject the term abandonment, objects François- Xavier Lauch. Know that I leave my heart in every department I pass through. I am always looking for consensus, but we cannot deviate from the coastal law". On the other hand, on the PPRI, the prefect assures that he has "no dogma on the matter. But they are there to avoid victims, because, know that there is no worse failure than a lost life". Firm but the perpetual search for balance. François-Xavier Lauch recognizes that the demographic influx of Hérault and its 1.3 million inhabitants is a real problem’ ;nbsp;: "We receive 15 000 new arrivals per year. And we will have to stop piling up these new inhabitants on the coast. And the territories will have to work together because they need each other", he recognizes.

Finally, on the subject of the huts of La Grande-Motte, the prefect reiterates his desire for balance and assures that it will be necessary to respect the judgment which protects the remarkable spaces and replace them at a another place the three establishments concerned: "But I never oppose the economy to the environment. I don't make the laws but I am responsible for enforcing them. On the other hand, I bring everyone's grievances and comments to the top", he said. In particular "the word of the elected", whom he meets. Word that he assures places a little above that of the citizens… And that he assures his total support forever, in compliance with the rules, finding solutions together.

Agriculture: "I call on all citizens to save water"

This is also a subject of great concern, at least as great as that of the retreat of the coastline and which is no more likely to let the Hérault prefect sleep peacefully& nbsp;: that of water, drought, irrigation of crops… He answered all the questions regarding the shortage of the resource "even if the rains of last month helped to slightly improve the situation », he tempered. A brief relief while "the climate of Montpellier will become that of Seville", he underlines to illustrate the urgency and the seriousness of the situation. And when the farmer from Liausson, Sébastien Vaissage, asked him to be able to take water from the Salagou in reasonable proportions, François-Xavier Lauch, was inexhaustible on the subject. He was able to express all his knowledge "of a fundamental subject. You have to be aware of this, water no longer falls in the same way as before. It will be the result of torrential rains then major periods of drought. That’s how it is, we have to adapt and the prefect says yes to winter detention, yes to the detection of new resources and yes to improving the networks.

But above all, François-Xavier Lauch calls with all his soul for sobriety: "I call on all citizens to save money of water, he asserted. How we managed to save energy when prices soared. 10 to 15% will allow you to spend the summer in many territories". The state representative stressed that he could not "promise water to everyone. Choices will have to be made. We will not be able to irrigate all the land", he told the Hauts Cantons winegrower.

Before recalling that the department was particularly responsive to the agricultural crisis in sending aid from the emergency fund! "We received 1 784 files and all were processed today". The first aid of 5,000 euros have arrived to deal with the most pressing needs and the most serious cases will be examined in a second step. 6.6 M€ have already been paid on the 13 M€ intended for agriculture in the Hérault crisis. In responding to the question of the Frenchification of foreign wines from Hélène Bras, the prefect also underlined that he had alienated part of the large-scale distribution sector for having increased the number of controls on the shelves. . Proof that he will be the first defender of Hérault viticulture…

The prefect unequivocally assures that he will do everything possible to safeguard agriculture: "This is a major issue of food sovereignty, it prevents wastelands. That the scrubland becomes more sensitive to fires". Wasteland, he also says, which encourages cabanization: "According to a satellite observation, 30 000 objects were built without a building permit"< /em>, he says indignantly before promising, like the deal points, to fight against this other form of real estate delinquency. As if to remind us that he would be an uncompromising prefect whatever the files…

Politics: "Gilles D'Ettore is still mayor"

Asked about the management of the commune of Agde whose mayor, Gilles D’Ettore, has been incarcerated since March 31, and while his first deputy, Sébastien Frey, with the agreement of the municipal majority, asked, this Thursday, this same Gilles D’Ettore to resign, the prefect of Hérault François-Xavier Lauch made a point of clarifying: "I have no business interfering in matters that are of a judicial nature. I prefer to recall it. There is an independence of the judicial authority, therefore the prefect, any more than the average citizen, is aware of the investigation" posed- he.

"My role, completed the prefect,it is to ensure that the continuity of public life, of democratic life, is exercised in that municipality, and in that urban area. As the situation stands, the mayor of Agde, who is in pre-trial detention, is still mayor. Our law is extremely precise: as long as there is no conviction, in our country, we are deemed innocent. I have obviously seen the local public expressions, I do not have to comment on them, it is not my job".

And to specify that "as soon as this situation was revealed, I received the first deputy of the city of Agde who ensures the functions of mayor, since the mayor is prevented. This is how the general code of local authorities is written. I told him in what context we had to work together. He asked me about some major issues to see how we were going to work together. From a simple perspective: the continuity of public life in this municipality. I did the same thing with the mayor of Pézenas who is acting in the interim at the conurbation level."

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