'Not without us': French suburbs launch new group to return power to the people


Local associations and residents groups representing people living in deprived parts of France say they have had enough of the inaction of successive governments. A number of them gathered recently to form what they describe as a 'union of the suburbs', a union with ambitious plans to overturn the way politics is done in France's urban areas. 'Pas sans nous' – 'Not without us' – has drawn up detailed plans to ensure local people get a genuine say in how their hard-pressed, often poor districts can be improved. Their next step: to force the authorities to listen to them. Thomas Saint-Cricq reports on a group that draws inspiration from the community 'empowerment' movement in the United States.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

They came, met and decided in an atmosphere which was a heady mixture of anger and euphoria. The outcome was the formal creation of a new 'union' called 'Pas sans nous' ('Not without us') which has the ambitious aim of transforming the way France's urban areas are run and giving local people a real and concrete say in how their lives can be improved.