Sunday, 25 April 2010

Ferney dans la rue - local democracy and protest

Yesterday morning Alex Décotte was wandering around the Ferney market with a sign around his neck protessting at the plans by our town council for the redevelopment of the centre of Ferney. He told us to visit the Ferney dans la rue site. I'm actually in favour of some of the plans but it's important to go and check the PLU (plan local d'urbanisme) at this stage and to offer complaints, alternatives and comments before it's too late. One of the challenges for Ferney is that all around the communes have alot more land than Ferney does and across the whole of the Pays de Gex housing developments have been taking place without even a hint of a structure plan or green belt. The past 10 years have seen a mushrooming of building projects. So there are good reasons - not least public transport and reducing the number of car journeys - for trying to develop the centre of Ferney rather differently. However one big challenge in our area is the lack of social housing and the current plans would lead to some of the existing social housing being taken down (particularly hideous stuff built cheaply in the 1950s and 60s) but those living there at very low rents at the moment may not find anything similar in the new project.
Anyway there is a series of public meetings underway on the PLU and of course the opposition is getting organised as well through Ferney dans la rue.
Décotte comes from an old Ferney family and is a journalist. He has been involved in writing the local satirical magazine and now website "Ferney Candide". He was on the town council here in Ferney for a while just after we moved here, but he's really happier involved in satire, campaigns and opposition politics.
I suppose what I like about the project that our council has put together is that it is ambitious. I'm not convinced by the collective's claims that it involves the destruction of greenery (a tarmac car park with a few trees on it?) and I think the town deserves a bit of a rethink to encourage people to walk and use public transport.
Anyway all this to say that things in Ferney are set for quite a political battle over the coming months. Should be fun, it makes the British general election campaign seem quite tame.