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Czech village that won Council of Europe's Roma integration award removing benches used by Romani youth

9.7.2017 11:23
The Czech town of Obrnice. (PHOTO: Hadonos, WikiMedia Commons)
The Czech town of Obrnice. (PHOTO: Hadonos, WikiMedia Commons)

The municipality of Obrnice in the Most district of the Czech Republic is removing outdoor benches from its housing estate. Mayor Drahomíra Miklošová (Civic Democratic Party - ODS) told the Czech News Agency that other residents are complaining that small groups of young people have been sitting on the benches late into the night and making noise. The local authority also said it will buy climbing structures for the youth and install them on the playground just above the housing estate.

The mayor said the local council is responding to complaints from other housing estate occupants, which customarily increase with the summer season. "They repeatedly warn of inappropriate behavior and noise caused by small groups of young Romani people occupying precisely those benches below the prefabricated apartment buildings. They shriek away long into the night," the mayor said.

"The town councilors have unanimously voted to remove the benches," Miklošová said, adding that they will be removed by the municipality at its own cost. "That is another measure we are preparing for summer."

The municipality will be buying three metal playing structures for the youth and installing them on the nearby playground at a cost to Obrnice of CZK 300 000 (EUR 11 500) from its own budget. Obrnice is also changing the time of day at which police patrols from Most will be on duty in the municipality.

A contract to that effect has been concluded with the Municipal Police in Most. "They will not patrol the streets during the day as they have until now, but in the evening between 20:00 and 24:00," Jan Foukal, spokesperson for the municipality, told the Czech News Agency.

Obrnice has roughly 2 500 inhabitants, approximately 40 % of whom are Romani. The municipality won an award from the Council of Europe for its integration of the Romani community in 2014.

While reportedly local leaders are doing their best to integrate local Roma, they are also taking steps to prevent more socially vulnerable residents from elsewhere in the Czech Republic from moving to Obrnice. The municipality is gradually buying apartment units on its territory when they come up for sale at auction.

Local authorities have already demolished four buildings there that were reportedly no longer fit for occupancy. Other towns in the Ústecký Region, such as Most, have also removed benches from allegedly problematic localities.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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