Two local authorities have enforced earlier closing times in neighbourhoods plagued by drinking in public and petty crime – and this time, left-wing officials are behind the law-and-order measures.
Local councils in two suburbs of Paris have banned shops from opening at night in an attempt to curb drug trafficking and anti-social behaviour.
Saint-Denis, home to the Stade de France just north of the capital, and Villeneuve-Saint Georges, to the south-east of Paris city, targeted areas known for late-night drinking in public and other types of disturbances with closing orders in June and July.
All shops except licensed bars, restaurants and bakeries must close at 8pm on four streets of Saint-Denis while part of the main shopping street in Villeneuve-Saint-Georges is closed to business after 10pm.
Both local councils are planning to evaluate the measures in the coming months before they decide whether to renew them.
“The aim is to give the neighbourhood back to its inhabitants and to passers-by, and to restore social life while combating noise pollution and groups of binge drinkers,” Saint-Denis town council said on its website on Friday.
The statement added that the measure targeted a number of bars previously found to violate their licenses as well as “grocery shops and hair salons that used to turn into completely illegal drinking establishments after 8pm”.
A town official told AFP that the neighbourhood became difficult after a crackdown on cocaine dealers drove them out of Paris city centre in 2008.
The council also called on the government to deploy more police to Saint-Denis.
Communist-run town councils
Le Parisien newspaper, which revealed the measures on Friday, noted a twist in the fact that the Communist Party controls the local authorities behind the orders. “Several right-leaning town councils had tried to enforce curfews for juveniles at the end of the 1990s, but their initiatives were nearly all quashed by administrative courts,” the paper remarked.
Villeneuve-Saint-Georges mayor’s chief of staff Julien Zoughebi told AFP that since the local council took the order on June 1, “drinking offences and petty crime have gone down significantly, as well as noise pollution”.
But several local shopkeepers disagree. They took legal action against the order and lost the initial case. Grocery and phone shop owner Selvarasa Selva told AFP that he had appealed the ruling. “From 9pm or 10pm, people coming home from work come to buy food or call their home countries. I’ve lost 16,000 euros in three months,” he said.
Yet in Saint-Denis, a neighbour of the curfewed shops welcomed the measure. “It has changed our life. We had not slept in two years. Now we see police patrols and it is quiet again. We hope the order will be renewed,” she told the news agency.
Date created : 2013-08-23