10.03.2016

Is Saint-Martin Wake up still popular ?

Last October 22, an significant section of the population supported Saint-Martin Wake Up Committee on the local city planning (PLU) and the need to modify and stop the ongoing public inquiry, today it is no longer the case.

The main criticism made is that it is no longer in the public’s interest, contrary to what was said last October 22. In fact, numerous comments on social networks condemn an individual initiative that gives a bad image to the island. Especially since the blocking is taking place on the first day of an electronic music festival which has attracted tourists and journalists from around the world.

For several days now, restaurateurs, denouncing high leases to operate the carbets at Orient Bay, are the object of criticism. "If they don’t want it, they can give us their spot...I would be glad to lease it, even for €2,500...”, one can read on social networks. For reference, the Collectivité received more than 80 applications and had to select 22 operators including 8 restaurateurs. The first restaurateurs had signed a contract with the Collectivité for €2,500 per month, even before a revision could be made bringing leases down to €2,200.

 

This issue has taken a political turn. The reaction of the community remains to be seen, whether it will respond favorably to the requests or not (9 months of free rent, obtaining carbets keys without signing contracts, etc...). If it yields, this could open the door to other requests.

The Collectivité has already yielded twice: on October 22, by stopping the public inquiry related to the PLU and last February, by revising the lease amounts. Meanwhile, it had also voted the prohibition of sunbeds on the beach of Grand Case, a request that was also promoted by the Saint-Martin Wake up Committee.

In this case, if the majority wants to show that it is still in command of the Collectivité, it should not yield. If it responds favorably to some requests, it will see its credibility and legitimacy (furthermore) decrease. In not yielding, the risk is to provoke a societal unrest and racist-like conflicts.

The Committee has stated wanting to intensify the blockings if it didn't succeed. The Prefect has indicated that she would seek the intervention of police forces to remove the blockings if they were not gone by Thursday morning.

Asking the forces to intervene is very delicate and can generate more trouble. The risk is to draw up a section of the population against another and to see an anti-State message spread throughout the public; these messages could be heard during the presentation of the PLU by elected officials to the public a year ago, e.g.: "the State cannot tell us what we must do, how to manage Saint-Martin”. Police officers are regularly attacked on these specific issues.

That is why dialogue is always preferred, and decisions should be taken in the public's interest; subject to everyone having the same concept of the public's interest.

 

 

 

 

Estelle Gasnet

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