A drama with heavy consequences
Saturday, February 24 in the late afternoon, the “Comptoir de la Victorine” was the target of arson. Despite the presence of a person inside the premises when the fire started, no one was injured, but they are very significant property damage. This arson, it is a certainty, will hinder in a cruel way and for a certain time, the artistic, cultural and popular education activities that the residents of the “Comptoir de la Victorine”, lead on the district of Saint-Mauront in the direction of inhabitants and in partnership with the actors of the territory. It will also weaken our economies and our teams already in tension. Moreover, the major damage will hinder the activities that many users of the site – artists, companies and cultural associations – lead to the Comptoir, depriving them of workspaces, services and support.
Too lost time
This fire comes exactly 10 years after the purchase of Comptoir Toussaint-Victorine by the City of Marseille. Ten years during which we have not ceased to question the City, local authorities, and the State services so that they fulfill their commitment made formally in December 2007: rehabilitate the site so that residents develop safely their activities in relation to the inhabitants. Ten years of standstill and procrastination during which successive political leaders, including the same formation, had no other plans for the site than to blame themselves for inaction.
Late and unsuccessful advances
Our perseverance partially paid off: a deliberation of the city council of April 2015, provided finally, within the framework of a first phase of work, “a complete repair of the coverage of the buildings, a replacement of the footbridge, and a setting norms of the premises and the attics with regard to the regulations in force in the field of fire safety “. Two years later, the roof was revised, the consolidated footbridge … Unfortunately, a “budget arbitration” has postponed the setting to fire standards of our building at a later date!
Do not pit but act
An investigation is underway that will determine the exact circumstances of the outbreak of this fire that follows many outbreaks of fire caused in the neighbourhood in recent weeks. Beyond the loss of our work tool, this tragic event is symptomatic of the violence that reigns in the district of Saint-Mauront. Violence provoked by the pure and simple abandonment by the public authorities of a whole part of the 3rd district of Marseilles and its inhabitants. It is urgent that the “Comptoir” be rehabilitated as soon as possible to be used to its full potential. As it is urgent that a proactive and coordinated policy be implemented in the field of social and educational equipment and services, prevention tools and substantial support for the actors on the ground.
Far from eliminating us, the temporary loss of our work tool strengthens us in our conviction that a proactive, social and supportive policy is the only way to respond to the suffering of our neighbourhood – and many others. It also confirms our desire to act in this direction.
The 4 organisations are hosted by la Friche Belle de Mai, this welcome relocation is unfortunately only temporary and the associations will again find themselves without premises from July if the City of Marseilles will not respect it’s commitment, to allow us to reintegrate the undamaged part of the Comptoir.
The arson accelerated the decision making process, during the City Council of 9 April, the City of Marseilles, owner of the “Comptoir de la Victorine” since 2008, voted a budget of 400 000 € for the reparation of the building burned, work that will take a minimum a full year. A call for projects for the rehabilitation and the administration of the site will be lunched in automne, a positive development of the site and neighbourhood is expected.