Villeneuve-sur-Lot Mayor Patrick Cassani gives an overview of recent decisions made by the municipality regarding the coronavirus crisis. In doing so, he announces the order of 20,000 masks to the “general public” for residents who need them.
Like other communities, you have decided to re-open your recycling centers, but will do so gradually, can you tell us why?
We have maintained a hotline throughout the City Hall all day and among the issues that arise most often are those that relate to recycling centers. People are home. They also do their gardening activities themselves and this necessarily generates waste. Only there are two points to keep in mind. First, that all precautionary conditions are met, this requires organization. It’s not about creating an air appeal so that everyone rushes in, even if it means creating traffic jams, as I’ve seen elsewhere. The second point is to take into account the recycling channels that come from recycling centers. If the latter are unable to take our waste into account, it is difficult to re-open recycling centers, but until recently this was the case. These two conditions mean that I decided to open in two stages, Monday, April 27 for green waste and Monday, May 4, for everyone. When I noticed that other French local authorities were moving away from the closure of recycling centers, in the middle of last week, I asked for a release to reopen the prefecture. She provided it to us last Friday night. We now need to mobilize additional staff because a single guard will not be enough to manage the flow of visits. Especially since recycling center users can only return two.
The other topic that should get your fellow citizens talking is masks?
Oh yeah! It remains to be seen how this will happen. After the president of the republic says that all the French will wear masks. On Sunday, it was the prime minister’s turn to talk about the obligation to wear masks in public transport, but at the back, every time, there was nothing specific. The state explains that it will contact the mayors, but we do not receive instructions. Will the state give a financial donation to the communities to buy it? There was too much uncertainty and we couldn’t put it off, which is why we started researching with mask companies. One of them told us on Monday that she could no longer return orders, but we found another in Montluson. We have ordered 20,000 general-purpose, reusable and reusable masks made in France. They will arrive within three weeks. We will give them out to residents who need them. We trust those who already have it, personally or through their employers, not to ask for it. If additional needs arise, we will order more.
However, among the everyday objects that worry Villeneuve, do we suppose we often have to ask you about the question of school renewal?
This is an extremely complex topic in which mayors are still on the front line. On Tuesday, Jean-Michel Blanker explained that the large children’s sections, CP and CM2, will return on May 11 to groups with fewer than 15 children. We need to look at school feasibility if we have enough space to accommodate these groups. It will also be necessary to mobilize additional staff if we want to impose barrier gestures. The big issue that needs to be settled is the dining room issue. In my view, it will take time to meet the needs of National Education.
Why did you decide to exempt certain economic activities from taxes?
We have sectors such as hotels and restaurants that are facing huge financial difficulties. And these businesses will not be able to reopen on May 11. Wondering how a city like ours can support them? We chose to help them by exempting them from the terrace fees. The same will be done for the non-sitting traders participating in the markets, exempting them from the rights of premises in their turn.
Where are we at Villeneuve-sur-Lot on the market?
There are many things to say. Thanks to the shops we have, there is no problem with food supplies in Villeneuve-sur-Lot. Whenever it was possible to request derogations from the market ban, I requested two for our covered markets, La belle jardinière in Eysses and Les allées gurmandes in the city center, as these two markets are open daily and meet daily needs. We are now preparing after May 11 with the first opening of the Saturday market and then Wednesday for the organic market.
How does a city like yours work when the budget has not yet been voted on this year?
A government order of March 25 sets new rules for communities. He extended the term of office of the elected officials and postponed the vote on the 2020 budget until 31 July. Communities have the right to use the appropriations entered in the pre-voted budget. This regulation also allows mayors to distribute grants to associations, to allow them to function and to pay their employees. That’s what I want to do. In terms of services, we have created a business continuity plan. It applies to basic services such as municipal waste collection, civil status, carrying home food, the Municipal Emergency Management Center (CCAS) office for social emergencies … We have just added the restart of the green lawn service public gardens, but also sports grounds.
At the social level, is there a breakdown of Villeneuve-sur-Lot?
We worked quickly with charities (the Red Cross, Restos du Coeur, Secours Populaire …) to help them deal with the problem of volunteering, in particular because many volunteers are elderly retirees. So we helped them find new volunteers. The community center for social action, which is still open, is remedying emergency situations. We had cases to resolve. Families who have lost income and who have more expenses. Closure of canteens creates additional costs for families in difficulty. We were able to find solutions.
To end with a happier note, tell us about the Maison des Aînés YouTube channel.
We are proud of this house in Villeneuve, which provides social connections for the elderly. We are the only ones in the department that have a structure of this type for the elderly. It has 500 members and with the closure and closure of the Chamber, there was a fear of the isolation of the elderly. This is why the Youtube channel starts. For those who have access to digital, this keeps in touch. We can even attend workshops through this network. Thank you to those who created it, as well as thank you to all the city staff and agglomeration who have invested in their missions during this difficult time. Obviously, I include all caregivers fighting the epidemic.