More than 200 participants in the Manifesto Day of L’Hospitalet, Spain, on the theme of citizen participation

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L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Spain, 12 November 2013 – The town of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat hosted on 12 November the Manifesto Day co-organised by the Spanish Forum for Prevention and Urban Security (FEPSU according to the Spanish acronym) and Efus, supported by the European Commission. This day of debate was organised with civil society organisations and was attended by over 200 participants; it placed a particular emphasis on citizen participation and coexistence in shared public spaces, themes that are dear to the Spanish Forum and its president, the city of L’Hospitalet.

In order to ensure the good quality of debates, the L’Hospitalet team had created a framework document which detailed the specific theme to be discussed in each round-table, within the overall theme of the debate. This document had been sent in advance to all the moderators of round-tables so as to make sure that the most important issues were discussed.

IMG_8813Alfons Bonals i Florit, Núria Marín and Joan A.  Quesada

As part of this event, Elizabeth Johnston, Executive Director of Efus, presented the Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis, its approach, principles and values; this resulted in two round-table discussions focusing on the thematic recommendations of the Manifesto.

The round-table discussion on sharing public spaces was led by Josep Lahosa from the FEPSU and was enriched by the contributions of Anne-Marie Cibaud, Deputy Mayor of the city of Brest in France, who shared her vision of public spaces and the experiences of her city (see her presentation); Luis Sánchez Criado, Staff Sergeant of the “Community Unit” of the municipal police of L’Hospitalet, who stressed the importance of “social wardens” in the education system; Felipe Campos, managing director of Ithaca Education Association, who spoke about the intergenerational dynamic in public spaces and the possibilities of neighbourhood leisure activities; and Irene Warden, deputy inspector in charge of relations with the community at the municipal police of Girona, who presented the programme of Civic Officers, who work with the police to prevent anti-social behaviour and to promote the quality of life. 

photo HLJosep Lahosa and Anne-Marie Cibaud

The second panel, led by Alfons Bonals i Florit, Deputy Mayor in charge of security and citizenship of L’Hospitalet, addressed the complex issue of citizen participation in ensuring the safety of public spaces. Amadeu Juan, coordinator of the programme Hospitalet-ON collective values, presented the partnership work carried out by local administration and citizens in defining the concept of civil-mindedness as critical thinking and the ability to mobilise active and responsible citizens. This work in particular echoes the recommendations of Efus’ Manifesto. Felisa Perez, representing the coalition of associations of the third sector, expressed the crucial role of these private non-profit organisations in social cohesion, as the “spokesperson” of the people with no voice. Begoña Curto, in charge of evaluation security policies at the Ministry of the Interior of the governement of Catalonia, presented the results of a study on citizen participation, which contains the legal, philosophical and economic arguments for and against this participation. This theoretical study was based on the actual situation in Catalonia, through a study of the press and extensive consultation of NGOs and local stakeholders. Jésus Solores, coordinator of security and coexistence of the city of L’Hospitalet, gave an overview of the local programmes aimed at getting citizens actively involved: residents’ associations, committees for public spaces, intercultural programmes for integration, monitoring committees and information meetings between police and residents, to reinforce safety audits from the residents’ perspective. All these areas of work correspond to the thematic recommendations of the Manifesto of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis, and illustrate both cities’ achievements and the challenges they face.

Núria Marín, mayor of L’Hospitalet and president of the Spanish Forum for Prevention and Urban Security, closed the day by stressing the importance of public spaces as a meeting place and a place of civic solidarity, particularly in these times of great economic and social hardship.