A document dating back to 1749 has forced a French mairie to abandon plans to sell prime town centre land.
The Quimper (Finistère, Brittany) mairie had been set to sell land - which includes the existing communal social centre or Centre communal d'action sociale (CCAS) - so that it could be turned into a luxury residence.
However, a widow's legacy forced it to reconsider. A yellowing document dating back to 1898, and verified as a genuine transcription of the original 1749 document, comes from Agnès Pérard de Kersula, or ‘widow Cadé’.
Her will provides for the creation of a ‘house of charity’ on the land in question. This would later become a volunteering office, and then the CCAS.
It then states: “This donation is made for the relief of the poor, the sick .... without the income being used for any other purpose than the relief of the poor.”
Court rules document must be respected
During the Covid lockdown, the mairie had tried to get this document to be cancelled or nullified - but after two years of proceedings, the court said that the will must be legally respected.
The mairie has therefore been forced to announce plans will be reworked to respect the will.
Matthieu Stervinou, the new manager of solidarity in Quimper, told Ouest France: "In the sales agreement signed under the former [council] majority…it was noted that the risk linked to the infamous will had to be removed.
“The town went to court…in May 2020, in the middle of lockdown. The court was only able to give its decision two years later, but it decided that the legacy should be respected.”
The CCAS is now set to remain in its central location. The mairie has also gone further and is set to house its new Hôtel des Solidarités on the site, which had been planned for an elderly care home site outside the city centre.
The CCAS will now be housed within the building.
A new 80-space car park will also be built, as many residents had complained about the city-centre location causing parking issues.
What is a CCAS?
A CCAS, or a Centre Intercommunal d’Action Sociale (CIAS) when it brings together the CCAS from several communes, is a municipal centre that aims to fight exclusion. It also aims to help people who need extra support (such as the elderly, or people with disabilities), as well as provide resources for parents.
It can help people access social aid and offers administrative assistance with social documents (for example, to submit a request for food vouchers or social credit).
The Hôtel des Solidarités in Quimper will house the town’s CCAS, CIAS, social emergency office, and the social and elderly care offices le Centre local d’information et de coordination (Clic); and the administrative offices for la Direction Générale des Solidarités.
It will also have 20 rooms available for the temporary housing of people (including their pets) who are in need; as well as a public delicatessen, cafe, and new areas for visitors and staff.