Anti-homeless cages spark outcry in France
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The French town of Angoulême stirred up controversy on Christmas Eve by putting cages around public benches to keep homeless people at bay.
Shopkeepers in Angoulême, in central France, said they were fed up with drunks monopolising the benches and scaring customers away.
A spokesman for the city told AFP the seating areas were used “pretty much exclusively by drunks every day”.
But local reactions were indignant at this breach of the Christmas spirit. Former Angoulême MP Guillaume Garot said the move was “shameful", adding: "This isn’t my France.”
Others took to social media to express their “outrage” at such a gross violation of the festive season's traditional emphasis on charity and largesse.
According to local daily "La Charente libre", the town's centre-right administration has acknowledged what it called a "glitch" and suggested that it might "temporarily remove" the cages.
Late on Christmas day, teenagers managed to dismantle one of the cages, and the rest were removed by city hall later “as a safety precaution”, although a spokesman for the mayor told AFP it was a “temporary measure” and the cages would be back.
The spokesman explained that the cages were designed to be filled with stones to create gabions “and will be replaced as soon as we can take delivery of the stones”.