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Franco-British centre in jeopardy

Ouistreham project on hold

30 May 2018
By Connexion journalist

A project to build a €15million ‘Centre of Franco-British Relations’ at Ouistreham, Calvados, is on hold after the mayor was found guilty of forgery.

The centre was the idea of mayor Romain Bail (Les Républicains) and funding had been budgeted for via 40% for the Normandy region, 15% for the department, 25% for the Caen-la-Mer
urban community and the remainder, just under €3million, for the mairie.

At a council meeting in September 2017 Mr Bail showed an email to the mairie which appeared to come from a British charity, Normandy Memorial Trust, offering £2.5m, an amount which would have given the green light to the scheme, unlocking the funds from the other sources.

However the offer has since been denied by the UK trust, and the email was found to have been written on a private computer belonging to the mayor.

The project has now been suspended following an administrative court decision (the court will consider further in coming weeks).

Mr Bail is appealing a criminal conviction for forgery, which includes a one-year suspended sentence and a €5,000 fine. He claims he was at a festival on the day he is alleged to have written the email and that his computer must have been hacked.

The centre was to have 2,500m2 of space near to the Sword Normandy Landing beach and was to tell the history of France/UK relations with exhibition space, teachings rooms, an auditorium and restaurant. It was set to open in time for the 75th anniversary of the landings next year.

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