Justice puts a stop to public-private partnerships in Marseille schools

The “Marshall plan” of the Marseille schools should not survive the last hours of 2019. Friday, December 27, for the third time in 2019, justice has ruled in favor of taxpayers and corporate organizations – national and regional councils of the order of architects, in particular – who dispute what future school plan launched by the mayor (Les Républicains) Jean-Claude Gaudin.

Estimated at 1.04 billion euros, this program originally planned to entrust large private groups, through public-private partnership (PPP) procedures, with the construction, renovation and maintenance of 34 establishments public schools for twenty-five years. An operation that was to mark the last term of the mayor of Marseille, who will leave office in March 2020.

In its judgment made public on Friday, the Marseille administrative court of appeal confirms the judgment of the administrative court of February 12, canceling the deliberation launching the plan, voted by majority by Marseille municipal councilors. She considers that the interest of a PPP procedure, compared to a more conventional procedure in public project management, has not been clearly established by the municipality.

The judges thus consider that the preliminary assessment carried out by the city of Marseille on the valuation of the risks of the two concurrent procedures “Cannot be regarded as demonstrating (…) that the results of the partnership market are really more favorable ”. They also note a lack of information from the municipal council during the vote on October 16, 2017, noting that the data produced then for the benefit of elected officials “Cannot be the subject of either a critical interpretation by an informed reader, or an intuitive appropriation by an uninformed reader”.

“Lack of consultation”

As a warning sign, the same court of appeal had already, in September 2019, dismissed the municipality’s request to grant him a stay of execution. The latter then invoked the urgency of the situation of the schools concerned and thus intended to advance in the procedure of its PPP, pending the judgment on the merits.

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Monday, December 30, the municipal team, joined by The world, could not confirm his intentions regarding a cassation appeal. She says she has “Already made several arrangements for a plan B in the event of an unfavorable judicial decision” and in particular the launch in conventional procedure of the construction of two new schools, initially planned in the first wave of the PPP.

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