Local development, prospects?
I had the opportunity to attend, as an observer, part of the work of the Workshop of the territories which had chosen to settle on the intercommunality of the Bassée Montois, in Ile de France. 24000 inhabitants, few services and activities, away from public transport, a population of neo-rural people who often feels like being rejected, a daily commuting towards the capital and near massive suburbs, this Intercommunality is rural, under exacerbated metropolitan influence, and has sought, for several years, to project and show a difference.
It is my territory, I live there, I was elected (mayor of a village of 650 inhabitants and promoter of the association seine and marne of the rural mayors) and I often participated in the reflections on its future . I, too, exercised my professional vision as a local development expert to gauge the process and its conclusions. This work has suggested to me several reflections.
On the method first, it certainly starts from a good principle by gathering elected officials, experts, qualified persons and technicians of the State. However, is it reasonable in 2018 to talk about a territorial project without consulting the first concerned, the inhabitants? It seems to me that one can no longer, systematically, dissociate private and public spheres, in the utopia that the development of the collective belongs only to the elected.
On the work done, then, which took place in a structured way, alternating reflection workshops, field visits, exchanges with qualified actors, compilation and synthesis of a diversity of data accumulated over time, updated recently by the SCOT and PLUI work. Local elected officials have been in great demand, in addition to their respective commitments, probably too much. Few have participated assiduously in all the works, which leaves, once again, the projection of a common future to the good will or goodwill of some.
Finally, on the conclusions, the road map that has been shared suggests many and many possibilities of development which, from an intellectual point of view, are very interesting. The reality of this intercommunality seems, however, quite different. First, because we can not add work to local elected officials who are already crumbling under the loads and constraints. Then, one wonders if an intercommunality of this size is able to carry projects of this magnitude, its technical resources being reduced to few people, do not speak of its financial means. It would then be necessary to reinforce these numbers to such an extent that it would inevitably blow up the operating costs even before seeing any results. And this even if the State proposes a concentration of its regal devices and a flexibility of execution to optimize the development of the projects. Moreover, it is clear today that the investment capacity of a community is limited, as well as those of its traditional partners (department, region …). Much of it is monopolized by the operation and development of structures.
However, one of the recommendations of this workshop of the territories is particularly innovative. It recommends finding new resources, in particular, for the development of projects through a SCIC type cooperative (Cooperative Society of Collective Interest) that would involve, in the same dynamic, the elected representatives, the project leaders and , possibly, users. In doing so, the initial investment, borne by the community, could thus be paid back (the ROI) by the realization and development of the projects supported. This vision combines a capitalistic approach and a guarantee of a collective vision. It is of real interest because it asks elected officials to change their prism on investment by imagining that public money is delivered through a production. It also associates, in the long term, elected officials and private actors in the same vision of development by sharing governance. More broadly, this suggestion raises the question of the search for means that regularly haunts the short nights of rural elected officials in France. Above all, it encourages a different interest in local resources, especially human resources, found in all territories. They are potential partners.
What to remember from all that ? That, probably, the local elected officials dilute today their efforts and concentrations in a large number of meetings which are too oriented on the technique and less on the projects of development for their territory. This is one of the perverse effects of community reform.
That it is certainly time to experiment with new practices. A community, especially rural, can no longer assume the means of its own development. It would then be necessary to recruit a dozen different experts to carry out the actions revealed by the Workshop of the Territories. It must focus more on the overall management of the territory project and delegate its realization to a group of carriers and users in a win / win logic. It’s a radical change …