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The Cities This Week: Edition 48




Source: flickr/ Atlantic Cities

Protestors in Hamburg. Source: flickr/ Atlantic Cities

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LONDON

“Protesters opposed to the closure of 10 London fire stations have demonstrated outside one of them – the oldest operational fire station in London. Clerkenwell fire station, dating back to the 1870s, and nine others, were closed earlier in a move by London Fire Brigade (LFB) to save £28.8m. LFB said changes, including the loss of 552 firefighters, were “inevitable” but the service would not be affected. But the Fire Brigades Union said the cuts would compromise public safety.”- BBC News

HAMBURG

“Hamburg doesn’t make for the most obvious urban battleground. Germany’s second largest city is also its richest, and the historic port has been widely praised for urban transformations that have set the bar high. In recent months, however, the city has descended into one of the most embittered, fractious redevelopment turf wars in all of Europe. Things got so bad that last Saturday, Hamburg’s chief of police declared the large area of the city where developers, police and residents are clashing a “danger zone.” The zone covers three inner city neighborhoods on central Hamburg’s western fringe, highlighted by police after a series of violent disturbances in recent months. Police believe that demonstrations by local leftists in the area are so out of control that they need to increase officer deployments to saturation levels to avoid becoming targets. Stepping up stops and searches, police have confiscated bats and masks and handed out travel bans to over 80 individuals they suspect of intending to carry out violent protest.” – Atlantic Cities

BILBAO

“Tens of thousands of protesters in Spain’s Basque Country have defied Madrid by holding a mass demonstration marked by tensions over jailed members of the Basque separatist group ETA. Crowds filled the streets in the northern city of Bilbao on Saturday in a march for “human rights, understanding and peace,” after a judge banned another demonstration planned to demand concessions for the prisoners. The treatment of imprisoned ETA convicts is one of the most delicate issues in a standoff between the authorities and western Europe’s last major armed secessionist movement. Organizers had called for a silent demo but cries of “Basque prisoners home!” rang out and demonstrators applauded prisoners’ family members who marched with white scarves around their necks.” – AlJazeera

JOHANNESBURG

“The South African National Roads Agency Limited has denied claims that it lied about the number of e-tags in circulation. On Thursday Business Day quoted Sanral CEO Nazir Alli as saying: “It would be downright stupid of us to lie about this.” Responding to claims by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, he said the auditor general’s office would begin its audit of Sanral this month, ahead of the financial year end on March 31. Sanral would have to provide proof of its claim that 936 000 tags were registered, he said.” – IOL

CAPE TOWN

“Mega human-settlement projects in Cape Town have been given the green light by the city council as authorities move to resolve the chronic housing shortages that have been the cause of some major protests that have rocked the city in recent times. Almost R1.2bn has been approved for earmarked human-settlement projects in the 2014-15 to 2016-17 financial years. The city council has approved the budget for seven human-settlement projects, as already identified in the city’s Integrated Development Plan. The approval forms part of the compliance requirements to include the projects in Cape Town’s medium-term expenditure framework for the 2014-15 to 2016-17 financial years.” – BDLive

NEW YORK CITY

“It’s been dubbed “Bridgegate” — a scandal about a traffic jam that may have muddied the road to the White House for Chris Christie. After simmering for weeks, the controversy exploded Wednesday when emails and texts emerged to bolster Democrats’ allegations that allies of the New Jersey governor engineered the traffic problems near the George Washington Bridge as part of a political vendetta. Not that long ago, Christie had mocked questions about the topic. On Thursday, the Republican was apologizing, firing people and denying he had anything to do with the alleged plot.” – Politico

BANGKOK

“Anti-government protesters have begun blockading major intersections in central Bangkok before a planned “shutdown” of the Thai capital expected to paralyse traffic, close schools and universities and possibly instigate violence amid fears of an impending military coup. Led by former deputy premier Suthep Thaugsuban, thousands of protesters are expected to rally on Monday at seven sites across the city, effectively bringing traffic to a halt on 16 major roads in this congested city and forcing 800,000 commuters to find alternative routes to work, local media reported. Suthep – a career politician who has led the People’s Democratic Reform Committee against Yingluck Shinawatra’s government for the past two months in a bid to rid the country of corruption – has threatened to shut down Bangkok for up to 20 days in order to replace Yingluck’s caretaker government with an unelected people’s council.” – The Guardian

LAGOS

“Nigeria is arguably the worst run of the world’s seven most populated countries. Despite earning hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenue over the past decade, it is expected by 2015, by some calculations, to have the second-most destitute people in the world after India. But its largest city, Lagos, which until recently was known as one of the world’s most difficult cities to govern, seems to have turned a corner. Even though it remains a slum-ridden and largely impoverished metropolis, with an exploding population estimated at 21 million (of Nigeria’s 170 million people), it has seen steady improvement in its governance for over a decade. The government has enhanced public transportation, cleaned up streets, upgraded the business environment and bettered the lives of its inhabitants.” – New York Times

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Melissa Meyer

Future Cape Town London-based correspondent

Urbanist-in-training from Cape Town, currently working in London. MSc City Design & Social Science.

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