The community of Agglo Nîmes celebrates this Thursday, May 12 in the evening its twentieth anniversary. Speeches, feedback on achievements and convivial moments on the menu.
39 municipalities and 262,000 inhabitants. The Agglo Nîmes has, in twenty years, gone through a few phases of growth to reach what it is today. Born after the municipal elections of 2001, Nîmes Métropole took its first steps with 14 municipalities. It then seemed obvious that the mayor of the central city would be the president. Jean-Paul Fournier, newly elected mayor of Nîmes, therefore became the first to climb to the perch of the new structure.
On September 24, 2001, the prefect of Gard Michel Gaudin had signed the decree of the perimeter and on December 21, 2001, a charter was signed with great pomp at Carré d’art (the day of the wedding in short), for a start in early 2002 The prefect Gaudin had previously multiplied the meetings, made the pedagogy on the intercommunality wanted by the State and had come up against much more lively opposition in the Cévennes sector.
John Paul Fournier
President between 2001 and 2014, Jean-Paul Fournier remembers the first meetings that took place in the council room in Nîmes, before the purchase of the Colosseum. “What I am most proud of is having created this community, it was new, the elected officials were not used to working together. Then we did the Nemausa swimming pool, Paloma, one of Smac which works the best. We managed to make the first line of trambus even if it was complicated. There is also civil security in Garons. The future looks good with Franck Proust, who has the skills and willingness.”
President between 2014 and 2020, Yvan Lachaud remembers a highlight: the opening of the Manduel station. “We have also increased the number of skills, such as Gemapi (Management of aquatic environments and flood protection), the airport, tourism. I would have liked to go further, transfer early childhood, and especially the local plan of planning, which would have allowed us to become an urban community…”
The current president, elected in 2020, remembers: “When we campaigned for its creation with Jean-Paul Fournier, the Agglo was a big bet, not at all obvious! Among the emblematic achievements: Nemausa, the trambus lines, the Gecko broadband fiber network, without forget about Paloma, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year!Among the priority missions of my mandate: the establishment and development of job-creating businesses, the qualitative leap of the Tango network and the energy transition for our ecometropolis. future generations a natural and safer environment against floods in particular would also be my greatest pride.”
Economy and transport
Around Nîmes, pioneers such as Jean-Paul Fournier, Roland Gronchi the mayor of Saint-Gilles, Jacques Bécamel in Caissargues, William Portal in Marguerittes, Jean Yannicopoulos in Garons, quickly found common ground.
The Agglo then started with 18 delegates but already with the project of future enlargements. The two main skills were economics and transport. Frédéric Escogido, today elected municipal official in Nîmes, was one of the first executives of this brand new Agglo.
“As in all cities, there was an economic service in the town hall of Nîmes, but it was quite light. These few resources were transferred to the Agglo and we set up this economic development department. We had two main missions: launch the first community economic activity zones, and embark on territorial marketing. That is to say, to find companies. That Nîmes finally has visibility outside.”
A slogan is then invented, “Nîmes metropolis, the new destination for companies”, while the vice-president in charge of the economy is Franck Proust, the current president. The areas of Grézan, Mitra in Saint-Gilles, Georges-Besse 2 then Bouillargues are the first in the community park (there are now around twenty). The men of economic development see themselves as facilitators to attract businesses. Logistics platforms like Auchan and Carrefour are setting up, nuggets like Proteus or Cézanne-Thermo Fisher as well.
Between 2001 and 2014, under the presidency of Jean-Paul Fournier, tensions remained between City and Agglo. “There were fights between the two communities, it was not easy to work together!”, remembers the prefect Hugues Bousiges (in post in the Gard between 2009 and 2013). “Jean-Paul Fournier was both president of the Agglo, mayor and senator, I dealt with him, but rather as mayor. After having shunned for six years (the time of the Lachaud presidency), Jean-Paul Fournier sits again at the Agglo.
● Michel Gaudin remembers
In 2001, Michel Gaudin was the prefect of Gard. Requested by the Agglo to participate in the festivities of this Thursday evening, in the same way as Nicolas Sarkozy (who inaugurated the Colosseum in 2003), neither of them will be able to be present. Michel Gaudin, however, replied to Midi Libre: “I have very good memories of my stay in the Gard and I am touched that people remember me twenty years later. Of course, it has not always been very easy. to get everyone to agree to create these intermunicipalities and these agglomerations, but I have always tried to mediate. I remember that the municipalities of Vaunage wanted to stay together, there were discussions… But I always preferred to convince than to constrain. Because if you constrain, you have to think that people must then work together, carry out projects. We had to reach a relative consensus!
● 104 community elected officials and 15 vice-presidents
The Community Council of Nîmes Métropole is now made up of 104 elected officials, 15 of whom are vice-presidents. 34 of them sit on the community board. The Agglo employs 478 agents and its budget (excluding additional budgets) is around €309 million. With its 39 municipalities (791 km 2) it is the leading agglomeration in the Gard, ahead of Alès Agglomeration which has more municipalities (72) but fewer inhabitants (133,546). Among its major current projects are of course the protection against floods (the Papi), line 2 of the trambus, the requalification of the station market, the transformation of the Civil Security base into a European center for risk management, and the very delicate file of the development of the Magna Porta area around the Nîmes Pont du Gard station.