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How Paris plans to improve life in city's poorest arrondissements

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How Paris plans to improve life in city's poorest arrondissements
Police officers carrying out checks at Barbes Metro station. Photo: AFP
11:45 CEST+02:00
Paris has announced a plan "to improve the lives" of the 350,000 of the city's residents living in the poorest Paris arrondissements, which includes heightened police presence and increased security at Metro stations... and a party. Here's what you need to know.
The City's goal is to improve safety, public spaces and the improvement of daily life in the 10th, 18th and 19th arrondissements, traditionally working class areas, in northeastern Paris.
 
Here's a look at the plan. 
 
Why is it being introduced?
 
Despite investing heavily in low-income neighborhoods since 2001, these neighborhoods have been confronted with repeated crises, including refugee camps and the return of crack cocaine dealers, deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire told Le Parisien
 
"We have targeted strong, original, deployable measures quickly, to make things better," he added. 
 
Meanwhile deputy mayor Colombe Brossel said the aim is to fight against "delinquency of any kind", telling the French press that she was "very moved by the fact that the women say: 'I do not dare go home anymore' due to fears of coming out of the Metro. 
 
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Migrant camp at Porte de la Chapelle. Photo: AFP

What action will be taken?
 
Security is the top priority. 
 
The new measures will include the creation of a municipal police force, which currently exists in other towns and cities in France but not in Paris. 
 
This police force will be "complementary and fully coordinated with the national police," said City Hall, adding that these officers will be equipped with a "Tonfa" batons, as well as tear gas and tactical vests, a pedestrian camera, and vehicles with flashing lights.
 
The City will also place uniformed agents at the entrances to Metro stations. 
 
By the summer, 35 security agents from the City of Paris will be present for seven days a week between Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement and Barbès in the 18th, as well as the surrounding areas.
 
At the same time, 53 officers will patrol the squares, major roads, Metro exits and parks and gardens, which are often used for squatting.
 
In the Place de la Chapelle area police will attempt to make it easier for women to walk around, which they say is currently being made difficult by the large presence of groups of young men. 
 
On top of that the plan attempts to tackle unemployment. 
 
"From now on, we are starting a training program of €1 million for every 1000 inhabitants of working-class neighborhoods so that they can take advantage of the wave of employment opportunities set to be created as part of the Olympic Games," said Gregoire. France is set to host the games in 2024.
 
The move will also see several streets closed to traffic on a regular basis to allow children to play safely on them, as well as the organisation of volunteers to crack down on the noise from commercial businesses, such as bars which close late. Checks are set to be enforced, according to France Bleu.  
 
Photo: AFP
 
What else has the City of Paris got planned?
 
The City is also organising a new festival called "Canal en Scene" on Saturday, June 29th around the basin of Villette in the 19th arrondissement, which Gregoire described as "a major cultural event in the Ile-de-France region of the likes of July 14th at the Eiffel Tower."
 
"It will be divided into three stages: water games, a bal populaire (dance) and a night market and finally a great sound show, with lights, water jets and pyrotechnics on the water, which we expect tens of thousands of people to attend," he said.
 
So, is this really all about the upcoming elections?
 
With just one year to go before the mayoral elections, naturally questions have been raised over whether this is simply about winning people over. 
 
However Gregoire said it's just called "doing politics". 
 
"Adapting to the situation, trying to improve things every day: it's called doing politics. When the President unlocked €10 billion following the "yellow vest" movement, no one accused him of electioneering maneuver. We favor action for Parisians, especially those who need it the most."
 
French words to learn 
 
quartier populaire - working-class area
 
un riverain - resident 
 
cibler - to target
 
interdire -  to ban
 
le chômage - unemployment
 
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