Loire Atlantique: The Mayor Wanted to Welcome Refugees, His Municipal Council Refuses

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Loire Atlantique: The Mayor Wanted to Welcome Refugees, His Municipal Council Refuses 1

The municipal council of Treffieux, near Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique), voted against the reception of refugees in one of its unoccupied buildings, Thursday 11th October, 2018.

Thursday evening October 11, 2018, the town council of Treffieux, a small town of less than 1000 inhabitants near Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique) , rejected the project of reception of refugees in the old Post office, communal building unoccupied for a lot of years. The vote was played out to one vote: 5 elected members voted for this project submitted by the municipal office; 6 voted against and one elected abstained.

This deliberation followed  Territories 44’s call for the reception of regular refugees currently based in Nantes ; and the holding of a public meeting in the commune, on September 28th, which had gathered “about forty persons, elected and inhabitants of Treffieux but also of several surrounding communes”. This had allowed the creation of a reception committee ready to accompany future refugees.

“I considered resigning”

Following this negative vote, Mayor René Bourrigaud admits to having experienced a moment of discouragement:

“I was a little demoralized. I was thinking of resigning to get things back on track. But my colleagues told me that it would be a pity and that other solutions could be found.”

The four elected officials who, in addition to the mayor, voted in favor of the project, decided to join the host committee. Reinforced by these new members, he “will meet next Wednesday 17th October 17 at 8pm to look for new solutions.”

“What worries me is the rise of an attitude of rejection that we see in Treffieux as elsewhere in France, continues the mayor.”

“Very clear positions”

During the debates on this subject, the position of the various elected officials has indeed proved “very decided, except for one or two who were a little hesitant. Otherwise, people were either very supportive or completely opposed. For the first time, at the end of the council, we did not take a pot together … “, says René Bourrigaud.

He said he was “angry” to see that “a councillor who had just accumulated five absences at the last meetings, without ever giving power to anyone, finally came Thursday night, with the power of another elected absent, only to oppose this project. ”

“Home solutions via individuals”

Anyway, the host committee will get back to work to try to offer “home solutions via individuals”.

As for the building of the former Post, it will remain an empty shell probably a few years.

Too bad. We had set up a responsible reception system which, in my opinion, should not cost the commune a dime.

The scheme in question was based on a tripartite partnership with two associations: the local reception committee, just formed; and the national association A family, a roof.

The director of this association, Yves Aubry, was present at the meeting of September 28 to explain what is already done in other municipalities for the reception of these regularized refugees. First, a municipality agrees to provide one or more dwellings. It is the association A family, a roof, which then manages the reception of the people in emergency situation, the rent, the expenses, etc …

Finally, the local reception committee is asked to help the refugees to acquire their autonomy: via French courses, for the various administrative procedures but also to find a job or at least the preliminary training.

“Initially, we proposed to provide the two mobile homes that the municipality has Gruellau campsite, explains the mayor. But members of A family, a roof told us that it would not be appropriate because the refugees would feel completely lost there. (Note: the site is indeed quite far from the village)

Four rooms were available

On the other hand, they had shown interest in the building of the former Post Office, which had been vacant for quite some years, except that it served from time to time as a local youth to the intercommunal socio-cultural center of La Mano. ”

The building in question has been used for some time since the closure of the Post Office. “There is housework and some work to do but the representatives of A family, a roof found it quite acceptable. ”

The furniture had to be taken care of by the reception committee. The building had four potential rooms.

“There is a lack of emergency housing”

“We had several projects for this building, but none has ever succeeded,” said the mayor before the famous city council on October 11th. He also emphasized:

One of the rooms on the first floor of the former Poste de Treffieux.
One of the rooms on the first floor of the former Poste de Treffieux. (© Scout – Cécile Rossin)

A project that had to be temporary

In addition, René Bourrigaud said that this function of the building would be all the more temporary as it, along with the abandoned farmhouse that adjoins it, “is part of the program for an innovative habitat led by the NCC. Eventually, the whole will be renovated, presumably to accommodate an older residence or village.

As for the issue of transport, which is often problematic in small rural communities, the mayor believes that Treffieux is far from being completely destitute in this respect:

“We have planned the establishment of a shuttle to Nozay, if necessary, where people will be able to easily take a bus to Nantes. There are also school buses, which are open to other travellers; and the on-demand transportation system. Finally, there is carpooling. And several people from the newly formed host committee have committed themselves to convey the refugees in case of urgent need.”

So many arguments that will not have been enough to convince a majority of advisers Thursday night …

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