Weekly Urbanauth: City centers in the UK and French journalism in a bad state

The most important news at a glance – Our weekly press review of the calendar week 33. Ban on e-scooters in Milan, dying city centers in England, soon new squats in Berlin, as well as French journalism in crisis – Our summary of the most important news.

City and human

UK High Streets activity decreasing?

Main streets and city centers play an important role in local communities.

According to the Independent, the national vacancy rate in the UK in July was 10.3 percent. According to the monitoring of the British Retail Consortium, the number of empty shops in downtown England has reached its highest level since 2015.

While shopping malls outside the city performed better last month with an increase in visitor numbers of 1.2 percent than the main street frequency, which fell by 2.7 percent last month, while inner-city shopping centers recorded an even greater loss of 3.1 percent.

“QueerUnity” – A novum for Niedersachsen

As the Taz reported, there will soon be a queer youth center in Hanover. The initiator of the project is the Andersraum association, which already runs a queer centre and looked after the young people. However, the offer was limited due to the lack of space and co-design, which is why there will soon be own rooms for queer teenagers. The city of Hannover promised a support of 50.000 Euro, whereby all parties except the right-wing AfD welcomed the project. The name “QueerUnity” was chosen by the young adolescents and should give them a safe space in form of a 120m² shelter for their free development. A meaningful measure, since queer young people are exposed to discrimination in their everyday life in many places like school, in public or even by their own families.

Hong Kong – Trump warns Beijing with economically consequences and an employee of the british consulate is missed

The protests in Hong Kong continue and after last week Hong Kong airport was closed for 48 hours and nearly a thousand flights were cancelled, Trump warns the Chinese government against violent intervention against the demonstrators. He twittered on 14 August that he was sure that if Chinese President Xi wanted to solve the Hong Kong problem quickly and humanely, he could. Trump also said on 18 August that it would be “very difficult” for him to agree on a trade agreement with China if Xi did not find a peaceful solution to the protests in Hong Kong that have been going on for almost 3 months now. With increasing police violence and arbitrary arrests, as well as troop movements near the Hong Kong border, the real question is how far China will go. For example, the Chinese government is said to be linked to the disappearance of a British consular officer, according to the British newspaper The Guardian. The man has been missing since 8 August, when, following a meeting in Shenzhen, south-eastern China, he tried to cross the border into Hong Kong. The disappearance of the man is probably related to Beijing’s warning that London should not interfere in the current situation.

City and mobility

Mailands E-Scooter have to disappear

Except for privately used e-scooters, all other scooters provided by sharing providers must be removed from public space within three days, was the order issued by the local government on 14 August. This information was confirmed by a press spokeswoman to the German press agency after a report in the Milan daily Corriere della Sera and published in the Tagesspiegel.

Until the resumption of scooter rental, further regulations are needed, which are to be negotiated in the coming weeks – in order to create a secure offer. Until now, driving these vehicles has been limited to a maximum of six kilometres per hour in the pedestrian zone. In future, however, they will also be able to roll around on cycle paths or in 30 km/h zones at speeds of up to 20 km/h (subject to a sufficiently large number of signs).

The use of electric scooters is also restricted in Paris. They are no longer allowed on sidewalks. At the beginning of August, the Tagesspiegel wrote that Berlin’s sidewalks should also be exempted from the scooters; among other things, the police have already registered 38 traffic accidents there.

Urban space and appropriation

#Besetzen wants to get back Berlin at the end of September

On the Twitter account of BesetzenBerlin, a loose group of squat-activists related to the Hashtag #Besetzen, a press release was issued on August 14. Thus, in the context of the action days “Tu mal wat!” from 26. – 29. September different houses are to be occupied. Under the motto “City from below”, the activists are committed to putting the needs of the local people, as well as greater co-determination in connection with urban design, in the foreground.

Spatial control

Cameras in Stockholm subway cars: A blessing for everyone?

The Local informed: The platforms are already being monitored, which has led to a loss of crime, according to Regional Transport Councilor Kristoffer Tamsons. Now cameras are to be installed in the 271 Stockholm subway carriages so that offences within the carriages can also be recorded in the act. If necessary, the cameras, which are connected to the public transport security centre in Stockholm, will also help passengers.

Public transport companies in Sweden normally have to apply for a permit to install cameras in public areas. However, the Stockholm metro network is an exception.

Where’s Steve? Those affected by the fatal evening gave their testimonies

In the French city of Nantes, close to the Atlantic Ocean, a controversial police operation during the Fete de la musique led to media attention. The Festival of Music is an event where music is played and celebrated late into the night throughout France. But this year a dark event should shade the otherwise so joyful course. At the edge of the flowing river Loire young people celebrated to electronic beats, when the police decide without warning to end the celebration. The association Media’Son assembled up to 148 testimonies. At that night up to 33 tear gas and 10 dispersion grenades as well as 33 shots with Flashballs/LBD were shot on to the ravers. The LBD is a gun which shots rubber bullets and was widely used the Gilets Jaunes movement. It’s use lead to the loss of 14 eyes).

Absolutely unprepared for this disproportionate act of violence on the part of the police, this led to a mass panic with fatal consequences. The newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche received insights into the statements from those affected and describes the impressions of the fatal evening when 14 people fell into the Loire. Among them was Steve Maia Canico, who drowned in the streams of the river. Thus, the situation is described as extremely chaotic: People who slept before woke up in a fog of tear gas, while screams were heard from everywhere and people stumbling over each other.

The French police are thus coming under increasing criticism, as an extremely high level of police violence was already detected during the movement of the Gilets Jaunes. Controversial: The IGPDN, the French police force control authority, is very effective in prosecuting officers who, for example, steal material or defile the reputation of the police, but on the other hand has big difficulties to detect any violence committed by the police.

City and Environment

Blue City project as flagship for Rotterdam’s sustainability plan

The BlueCity project in Rotterdam aims to recycle waste. A former wellness luxury spa in the city of Rotterdam has been transformed into a huge high-tech waste recycling laboratory. Engineers, bioscientists, breeders, brewers, archaeologists, caterers, carpenters, storytellers and designers are housed here under one roof to create an ecosystem that shares resources and reuses waste in an attempt at “circular economy”. Plastic and metal are shredded and reborn as brand new products using 3D printers. Worms compost all the organic waste in BlueCity. This project aims to solve one of the biggest problems of our century, the enormous amount of plastic waste that humanity produces. Worldwide only less than 10% of it is recycled. It is a step in the right direction that there are not only artists who are paying attention to this issue but also the communities are starting to act. Rotterdam plans to take a leading role in the circular economic movement by 2050. And there is even more good news: Rotterdam is not the only city in Europe with circular innovation centres. There is De Ceuvel in Amsterdam, CRCLR in Berlin, SPACE10 in Copenhagen or Sustainable Workspaces in London.

On our own behalf – Journalism

France’s journalism in crisis ?

At the beginning of the year, SCAM, the French copyright collecting society for authors, asked 3771 journalists about their situation and opinions about their profession. In the resulting paper entitled: Journalists – Authors or Content Suppliers? several glaring problems were identified. In our article: Is freedom of the press in danger? we had already asked ourselves this question. With the SCAM report, however, the problem becomes clear on several levels.

The report stresses that working conditions and precariousness are a key issue. The working environment of French journalists has changed considerably in recent years. Where once permanent employment was the order of the day, it is now freelance work. The advantage for employers: no social security contributions and additional remuneration such as the 13th salary. For journalists, however, this all too often means taking on part-time jobs for financial reasons. Especially badly it hits thereby women, who receive less salary and are often shifted from position to position.

But also the general professional image is a big point of dissatisfaction. This can be the precariousness, which stands in contrast to the prestigious image of the journalist, but also in the case of the freelancer, the fact that in the media HQ the contents are cut to size and important video sequences are taken out or put in a weird relation, which leaves the creators irritated. But really bitter is that most journalist on the field, who are the nearest to what happened don’t own a press card, since they have to earn at least 70% of their income by journalistic activity.

Our press review is available in French and German.