I came down to Aix-en-Provence by train yesterday. On the way we passed through Lyon. Two things bleakly stood out: many walls smothered in graffiti and the large blocks of social housing.
I arrived in the evening. By the middle of this morning, I had been approached by three beggars.
I had supper with a old friend. I asked about visiting social housing blocks in Marseille. She said there had been murders recently in Marseille. It might not be safe to go to those areas. But then, she reflected, those areas might actually be safer because they would have police there. She said that more than 300 extra police had been brought into Marseille to help deal with the violence.
There is a huge contrast: on the one hand, the beggars, the graffiti, the social blocks, the violence. On the other hand, the ultra-chic shops of central Aix and tens of restaurants here fully booked (admittedly on a Saturday night).
French politicians talk of ‘social solidarity’. They seem to have achieved the opposite.
- Now THIS is a social housing programme: 36 million new homes!
- What is the cause of the Paris riots?
- ‘Of 12 incidents that ended with the victim attending hospital, only seven were reported to police’
- Again the trustworthiness of government statistics in question
- How did gangs arrive on council estates?