What conclusions do you draw from this first day of (semi) freedom in Saint-Etienne yesterday?
It was indeed an expected day, an important day. She was very calm, the instructions were well respected by the Stéphanois. I think everyone knows that May 11 was a milestone but certainly not a culmination. Besides, confinement had been well followed in Saint-Etienne, in all the districts. On average, the police drew up only 70 reports per day, which is not much compared to the city’s population.
What line has been adopted for the deconfinement of public transport?
We have worked on a very strict security protocol with the STAS: suppression of the sale of tickets on board for example, disinfection of rolling stock, wearing of a mandatory mask, etc. We are distributing 172,000 of them free of charge these first days to help travelers in this first step.
STAS has reached the objective I set for it, that is to say, as of May 11, from 30% of the usual offer to 80%. The government wanted 70% but I asked that we go further because the more normal service we have, the easier the distance measures will be to respect. We will be 100% on June 2. Transportation service must be available to reassure and encourage recovery. Health security is the priority prism of my decisions. Because we are on a public service delegation. Saint-Etienne Métropole will bear the additional costs, ditto for the shortfall in ticketing.
On this subject of the transport cost, we must not forget the loss of revenue linked to the fall in the transport payment of companies whose amount is proportional to the payroll. Due to partial unemployment, the loss is phenomenal: already almost 10 million euros. This is a deadweight and immediate loss faced by all metropolitan areas. We have alerted the state because this will pose a problem from the 2021 budget.
Drop in revenue, additional costs… How do you think Saint-Etienne and Saint-Etienne Métropole will be able to resolve this thorny question of the 2021 budget?
I propose the creation of a third accounting section which will identify all of the Covid-19’s direct and indirect costs with fungibility of operating and investment budgets. I also propose doubling, throughout the duration of the next mandate, the overall state operating budget for local authorities in order to promote economic recovery. Indeed, municipalities represent 70% of public investment. In this way, the economic recovery could be rapid.
Do you think you have a chance to be heard on the doubling of the allocation to communities?
The head of state said that all measures would be taken to avoid an economic disaster, whatever the cost. In view of the hundreds of billions announced for guarantee funds, I think that this initiative would ultimately represent a small envelope, it would make it possible to concretely and effectively support the economy and employment.
To return to the subject of deconfinement and transport, you announced the establishment of new cycle paths. Some precisions ?
With the Ocivelo association, we worked very quickly on this subject and we created an additional 30 kilometers of cycle paths. They will be readjustable according to their use and the situation. The aim is to offer an alternative to public transport and the private car.
Regarding schools, you expressed yourself widely on the national media last week to express your opposition to a reopening this May. However, as of Thursday, the Stéphane schools will welcome the children again…
I still think the school shouldn’t have reopened until September. Parents are worried. I had launched a questionnaire with Stéphanois families, 60% did not want to send their children back to school.
I share the vision of the Minister of Education on the need to fight the school divide, but this argument no longer holds when we introduce volunteering. I know that the government is sailing by sight in this unprecedented situation, but it was not so complicated to have a consistent position on the subject of school. If you can’t imagine, just go see what’s going on elsewhere. The Italians and the Spanish will only open their schools in September, Germany has chosen a few strategic levels.
Nevertheless, I wanted to respond to the 40% of parents who wanted to put their children back in school, sometimes because they had no other choice. We have therefore organized ourselves to make this return to school possible on Thursday, May 14. We can accommodate all children of large section, CP, CM2 and ULIS simultaneously but in small groups. From May 18, we will take charge of CE1 / CE2 / CM1 on presentation of proof of obligation to be present at their workplace of both parents.
On deconfinement, as on confinement, you are therefore very careful. Recall measures such as the ban on jogging during the day, as in Paris, or the total absence of markets. You have also been the target of a complaint by the League for Human Rights, do you maintain this position? No regrets ?
No None. In this context of exceptional circumstances, a course and consistency are needed. I also won against the Human Rights League. My goal was not to clog up the emergencies of the teaching hospitals so that the doctors were not confronted with absolutely inhuman choices. I had daily discussions with the Prefect and the University Hospital, I made all these decisions in my soul and conscience.
Despite all these precautions, the masks offered by the Metropolis to the inhabitants will not arrive until next week …
Indeed, unlike other cities that have ordered abroad, I have chosen to buy masks from local companies: Neyret, EuroSandow and Jabouley. My first mask order was made on April 9. They were scheduled to be delivered on April 30, but companies were unable to meet manufacturing deadlines. I nevertheless maintained my order, I preferred to prioritize the quality of Stéphane rather than ordering abroad. I accept this decision. They will be distributed via the network of pharmacists to all Stéphanois.
Regarding businesses, what measures are planned by the City of Saint-Etienne and Saint-Etienne Métropole in this period of deconfinement?
We have put in place a support plan to support our businesses during containment. I am now working on a recovery plan with the CCI and Sainté Shopping, we will unveil the measures taken when the government has finalized its own, in a few days, to ensure that we will be complementary.
It is important that the taxes of Stéphanois are used wisely. In addition, we are implementing the resumption of construction sites in the Metropolis. It is not that easy because the supply issues are strong. We also make sure that the employees work in complete safety.
Steel, what delay do you envisage?
The site stopped for 55 days. Reasonably, I don’t think the opening will be until September.
What do you think of the management of the crisis by the government of Edouard Philippe?
The results will be drawn at the end of this crisis, we must remain united in this period. This unprecedented crisis is extremely difficult to manage. Criticism is easy, decisions much more difficult. However, in this kind of situation, you have to know how to set a course and keep consistency. I can only note that the state will have missed both, especially in the dissonance between the word of the Prime Minister, his ministers and the President of the Republic. Sometimes the same day, contradictory messages were broadcast.
What is your opinion on tracing the sick?
I consider that the State should concentrate its resources on tests, whether nasal or serological, on the whole population rather than on tracing which represents an obstacle to confidentiality.
On the other hand, I consider that the tests must be multiplied, they are still very insufficient in number. Therefore, this Friday, I am organizing a meeting with the ARS, the College of Physicians, and the College of Nurses to set up massive tests (PCR and serological when they are available) on the city of Saint- Etienne. Request which obviously the State is unable to respond to, due to lack of equipment.
I will propose to the ARS to open two or three gymnasiums in the city, managed by doctors, nurses and laboratories to carry out serological and nasal tests in large quantities, starting with people over 65 who volunteer in first then the whole population. The goal is to quickly detect and isolate the sick. This operation would be financed by Social Security as has been done in other territories.
Let’s talk politics, can and should the second round of municipal elections take place in June?
If we are told that we must postpone the elections, which are held in schools, even when we are asked to welcome children into these same schools, the inconsistency would be total! From there to think that a political drum is in preparation to save Paris, Lyon and Le Havre for En Marche…
Today, tomorrow, life in Saint-Etienne: how do you see it?
I hope that we will find a warm and dynamic social life. I will redouble my efforts so that all the work carried out so far, with a historically low unemployment rate in the first quarter, the return of investors and the population, is not in vain because of this crisis.