Verona’s mayor Flavio Tosi threatens fines for those who feed homeless

Right-wing leader claims rising numbers of vagrants pose 'risk to health'

Rome

Homeless people living in the centre of Verona are to be cleared out like pigeons after the city’s right-wing mayor announced plans to introduce fines of €500 (£411) for those found feeding the vagrants.

Flavio Tosi, the first citizen of the pretty northern city forever associated with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, said the rising numbers of homeless in a central piazza was posing a “risk to public health”.

And he blamed a local homeless charity for attracting them there with food handouts.

“Near to Piazza Dante there’s a garden where for some time the Ronda della Carita [charity] has been sending food parcels,” said Mr Tosi, a member of the rabble-rousing Northern League.

“Now there are 20 or more [homeless] sleeping there and they use it like their own toilet. The situation has become unmanageable; for this reason I’ve had to introduce this ban,” the mayor said.

He added that in Verona there were already “loads of” refuge centres, while those who chose to live rough were provoking an “environmental health disaster”.

Marco Tezza, the president of Ronda della Carità, said the ban and news of the fines had come “like a bolt out of the blue”.

“We didn’t encourage the tramps,” he said. “We go where we’re needed. If there are problems with hygiene and public order you boost safeguards and increase controls. Fining those who bring them food is not the answer.”

The provincial president Giovanni Miozzi criticised the new policy. “I understand the need for decorum and public order but during a period like this the priority must be to help people in difficulty,” he said.

Francesca Businarolo, an MP for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, decried the move as an election ploy. “This law has one function during an election campaign – to remind the electorate who Flavio Tosi is – the mayor sheriff,” she told the Verona edition of Corriere della Sera.

Mr Tosi denied the law was cynical electioneering. “My decree is not out of keeping with the Christian spirit and besides, during the winter when there’s an emergency cold snap, we welcome illegal immigrants, too,” he said.

But the mayor’s reference to immigrants is likely to remind critics of the Northern League’s attitude to minorities in general.

A senior party member, Roberto Calderoli, last year compared the black minister Cecile Kyenge to an orangutan.

Despite the uproar he refused to resign his post as Deputy Speaker of the Senate.

Other prominent Northern League officials, particularly in the party’s north-east heartland around Verona, have at times appeared to be in competition with each other to see who can make the most offensive comments about gays or ethnic minorities.

The party’s reputation as a refuge for bigoted goons was reinforced in January this year when the Northern League MP Gianluca Buonanno blacked up in parliament to accuse minister Kyenge of using her then position as integration minister to “favour negritude”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003