Brussels pedestrian zone: night-time problems continue, residents say
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    Brussels pedestrian zone: night-time problems continue, residents say

    © Aktron/Wikimedia
    A part of the Brussels pedestrian zone could be reopened to vehicle traffic. Credit:Aktron/Wikimedia
    © Aktron/Wikimedia

    Residents and shopkeepers in and around the pedestrian zone in the centre of Brussels continue to experience problems caused by drugs traders and drunks, Bruzz reports. The Brussels city council this week decided against opening a police station on the Boulevard Anspach, the main artery of the zone. However residents claim the number of police patrols has fallen off because the works being carried out make it impossible for police cars to pass.

    At present works are being carried out on the section of the zone between Bourse and Fontainas, an area with a longer history of night-time disturbances, including aggression against the clientele of the gay bars in the area, noise nuisance caused by customers of the nearby Saint-Géry quarter and cat-calling experienced by women such as in the film Femme de la Rue, made by film student Sofie Peeters in 2012.

    Brussels mayor Philippe Close declined to comment on the Bruzz report, but his office pointed out that the city is aware of the problems of the zone. There is a special police detail operating between 07.30 and 22.00, and a crime prevention detail active between 18.30 and 02.00, the city said. As well as that, cycle patrols take place throughout the day.

    “The problems are more visible because of the works,” said Philippe Vanderheyden, who runs a comic-book store on the boulevard. “There are certainly problems of safety and drugs trafficking, but those have always been there.” His shop windows have been broken, as have those of another comic book shop along the street. Two local residents told the channel they were afraid to leave their apartment after dark.

    The latest crime figures for the area date from January last year, and refer to the first year of the existence of the pedestrian zone, from July 2015 to June 2016, when reported crimes fell by 22%. Those figures, however, date from before the beginning of construction work, and above all take no account of the problems of drunkenness, litter and drugs use which all contribute to a feeling of insecurity among residents and visitors alike. The city could not provide more recent crime figures, Bruzz reports.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times