“When I have my grandchildren, I don't go there anymore”: a crisis meeting on repeated incivility at Pont du diable

"When I have my grandchildren, I don't go there anymore": a crisis meeting on repeated incivility at Pont du diable

Entre Aniane et Saint-Jean-de-Fos, le site n’est pas toujours un havre de paix. ME – ME

This Tuesday, June 18, a crisis meeting was organized in Aniane, at the request of Cédric Magne, president of the Aniane féeries, in order to discuss security issues on the Pont du Pont site. Devil. Listening and without tongue in cheek, the elected representatives of the community of municipalities announce new measures and resources.

"We need a strong and fast response! " This Tuesday, June 18, Cédric Magne will have closed the debates in a packed Aniane village hall, demanding concrete actions from the elected officials who came to speak language of truth with the inhabitants. Because after a new series of skirmishes, incivilities and even criminal acts that occurred on the Pont du Diable site, a number of residents are demanding that the case be handled in emergency.

"We sometimes arrive at a situation of lawlessness"

"I would have preferred that we discussed this subject together in a more peaceful period", confided, in the preamble, Philippe Salasc.

But, without tongue in cheek, the mayor of Aniane confirmed "problems of incivility, theft, of fights… societal events that occur on a site that is very dear to us. But today, we arrive, at times, in a situation of lawlessness in this space, where people are afraid. Myself, when I have my grandchildren, I no longer go there, it no longer interests me. This problem has been gaining momentum for three or four years", confided the first magistrate of the city of Benoit, illustrating, without pretense, the feeling of local residents who sometimes say they are "dispossessed" of "their" site.

The question of transport

Cédric Magne, always him, drove the point home, pointing out "buses for 1 € (2 €Editor’s note). Young people who come to our territory every day to cause mayhem. While residents have to pay 8 euros for parking! Now I fear worse. It is urgent to act to avoid any tragic incident", he mentioned in reference to vindictive comments which have flourished in recent days on social networks.

At his side, Maxime Geniez, president of the fishing association, La Gaule Anianaise specified:"We have alerted you to these problems of violence at the Pont du Diable and these questions of access to the site. But, I insist: this is not at all a political act. Everyone is gathered to defend the Bridge, our territory. Together we will find a solution to this problem."

A public service

But "there will’no miracle solution", warned Pascal Delieuze, mayor of Saint-Jean-de-Fos. On the transport aspect in particular, the representative of Hérault transports recalled that the historic line 668, which serves the Pont du Diable, is a service line also used by residents and employees to access the villages surroundings. In addition, if the public transport service no longer serves the site, it would still be possible for passengers to get off at Saint-Guilhem to take the shuttle to the Bridge. And "mediators are placed on this line. At the beginning we put them on for 15 days in the summer. Today, they are there from May",- he added.

In the room, several people demanded increased controls when boarding the bus. A father argued in particular that troublemakers would today be excluded from transport to Palavas but would still have access to line 668. < /p>

A firefighter from Aniane and the Pont first aid station warned: "this problem (of delinquency) leads to another: we can't find nobody to hold the position. The safety of citizens who come to swim is at stake. There should be at least seven people, but today there are only three of us. We may have to close on certain days."

Tackling the troublemakers

Increase in the number of security guards, reinforced synergy with the security services, the ASVP, the gendarmerie forces* who patrol the site, meeting with Michaël Delafosse, mayor of Montpellier to talk about transport the main avenues for advanced solutions…

Claude Carceller, Mare de Montpeyroux and vice-president of the CCVH responsible for tourism, will not have evaded any question, any lead."We are going to try to monitor more than what we already do. We are trying to resolve the problem; zero risk does not exist. The problem comes from people who do not come with the laudable intention of swimming. We asked that, during the season, identified troublemakers could be rejected (when boarding the bus). And I know that the police are waiting for the buses when they arrive."

Gendarmerie: present during a crisis meeting, behind closed doors with elected officials, the representatives of the Gendarmerie company of Lodève were unable to participate in the public meeting due to the reserve period induced by the electoral period.

What the community of municipalities has put in place

Following the public meeting it organized on Tuesday June 18 in Aniane, the Communauté de communes Vallée de l’Hérault published a press release intended to clarify the measures that are in place to ensure the security at the Devil's Bridge site.

"For several years, an agreement has been put in place with the National Gendarmerie as part of the official "securi-site" of the Devil's Bridge site by the Prefecture. It made it possible to reinforce the frequency of patrols with a gendarmerie team in July and August dedicated to the security of the Devil's Bridge and the gorges, without forgetting the rounds of the surveillance and intervention platoons.
In season, the Vallée de l'Hérault community of communes has also been strengthening security for several years with the intervention of a private security company. This year, this security budget has been increased by 40% for better coverage. Two security guards are positioned on the site, to monitor the beach and the bridge, from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., on weekends in early June and every day from June 21 to August 31. As a reinforcement, mediation work is also being set up this year to combat incivility and raise awareness about preserving the site. Two eco-guard mediators are employed during the season (July-August) by the CCVH to patrol the site and are in contact with the security guards. Finally, the site's remote surveillance system has been renovated, with a doubling of the number of cameras in the car park. Since 2020, Hérault Transport has also ensured the presence of mediators on line 668 (Montpellier – Clermont) which serves the Pont du Diable. This year, they are present on weekends from May and every day from mid-June.
In addition, the first aid station run by the firefighters ensures the
supervision of swimming during the season.
The elected officials present at the public meeting heard the concerns expressed by residents. A crisis meeting was already held on Tuesday 18 June with the municipalities concerned, the gendarmerie, Hérault Transport and the company Progis Sud Sécurité. The Communauté de communes Vallée de l’Hérault will set up a working group, including residents, and has contacted the other stakeholders concerned, including the Montpellier Metropolis. It will return to residents to inform them of the measures taken to guarantee safe use of the site for all."

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