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Draconian Acts In Shadow Of The Duomo

  • September 4th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

florence-2-youthhostelfl.jpgLeaping onto cars at stop signs to give a quick wash for a few coins is for some an idea of service, and a job, but to others a source of trouble.

Local authorities have been seeing it that way in Florence, as Sian Graham reports.

Image conscious Florentines have introduced tough new rules enabling police to confiscate window washers’ equipment, impose fines and pursue prosecution and sentencing of up to three months imprisonment.

The Mayor, Leonardo Domenici, issued the decree last week after reports that window washers in the elegant cultural capital were hindering traffic, inconveniencing pedestrians and abusing drivers, particularly women it was said.

Many of the window washers are illegal immigrants struggling to survive in the streets of the big cities, among them many young Romanian women and children.

Florence police chief Alessandro Bartolini led the first patrol which resulted in 15 people being charged.

“There are no more on the streets; word has got around, apparently”, Bartolini told Reuters.

Florence’s public safety officer Graziano Cioni stressed the aim was “not to punish beggars or poor people” but to combat “arrogant and violent” behaviour against motorists.

The new laws have caught the attention of the neighbouring city of Verona with Mayor Flavio Tosi saying he planned to monitor Florence’s results.

“If the new regulation manages to deter the window washers, we will adopt it too,” he said.

Mayor Walter Veltroni of Rome, who has taken action against illegal gypsy camps in the past, also supports the introduction of the stiffer laws.

“People are virtually ravaged at every traffic light and street corner,” he said.

Not everyone is convinced.

Italy’s Minister of Solidarity, Paolo Ferrero, told AGI News the action of Florence against windshield washers was wrong and probably against the law.

“It threatens to overflow the courts, to distract the police from their task to protect the security of citizens, and to criminalise poor people who found a way to eat risking to push them towards more dangerous work,” he said.

The decree is valid though to October 30 when it will be reviewed.

AGI News On, “No Windshield Washers: Ferrero, Action Florence Against Law.” (30.8.07)

China Daily, “Florence cracks down on squeegees.” (30.8.07)

Reuters, “Roadside window-washers threatened with jail.” (30.8.07)

Picture: Google – Youthhostelflorence