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POLITICS

Paris presents ‘manifesto of beauty’ to spruce up French capital

Paris city authorities have unveiled a 'manifesto for beauty' containing plans to spruce up the City of Lights where an online campaign highlighting ugliness and filth has piled pressure on mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Paris presents 'manifesto of beauty' to spruce up French capital
Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said that several recent initiatives from the Socialist-Green alliance that runs the capital would be scrapped, including allowing Parisians to plant their own gardens on public space.

Under a 2015 scheme, locals were invited to apply for licences to plant flowers around the feet of trees in the street — at the cost of the traditional cast-iron covers that are a much-loved part of the Parisian landscape.

Many amateur gardens have since turned into rubbish-strewn eyesores covered in dog faeces, with Gregoire conceding they were “not satisfactory from an aesthetic point of view” and posed “major upkeep problems.”

A zero-tolerance approach to dumping rubbish in public will be taken, Gregoire promised, while efforts to combat tagging and illegal posters will also be stepped up.

Unsightly temporary yellow road markings for new cycling lanes will also be removed, in line with a previous pledge, while recent concrete barriers will be replaced with “more discreet” versions.

The #saccageparis (trashed Paris) social media hashtag went viral in the first half of 2021, with residents posting photos of piled up rubbish, rotting benches, abandoned scooters, or badly maintained planted areas in the street.

OPINION: The real ‘trashing’ of Paris is not cycle lanes and benches but gentrification

Much of the anger was directed at city hall for replacing or neglecting Paris’s unique architectural heritage, including its street furniture bequeathed from the middle of the 19th century under Napoleon III.

Though the mayor’s office initially denounced the hashtag as a “smear campaign”, city authorities have been spurred into action.

Gregoire already laid out eight measures aimed at improving the city’s looks in July last year.

He conceded on Tuesday that the campaign “had also been useful in the way that it forced us to question ourselves and react”, although he said sometimes the same photos were reproduced, exaggerating the extent of the problems.

Hidalgo is running for president as the candidate for the Socialist party but is struggling to make an impact on voters. She is currently polling around three percent. The presidential election will be held in April.

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POLICE

France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.

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