Rome’s Great Pedestrianiser Half Resigns

The serially controversial, car-banning Rome mayor resigns. Is it time for all-electric Formula E racing to come home? And what about the city’s swingeing new coach tax?

Also, as Germany rejects 60t super trucks, a 104t log truck is under trial in Finland. And, a roundup of the latest situation on the borders of south east Europe: more checks for the Czech Republic, joint patrols in Hungary and even more delays likely Austria-Germany.

 

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ROME’S GREAT PEDESTRIANISER HALF RESIGNS

Brought down by one too many scandals, but might live to fight another day yet.

The car-banning mayor of Rome has (half) resigned in an expenses scandal. Does this mean the all-electric racing series Formula E will finally return to the place it was launched in December 2012? More later.

Formula E debuts beside the Colosseum in December 2012. Photo FIAFormulaE.com

The great pedestrianiser, Rome mayor Ignazio Marino, has – provisionally – resigned in an expenses scandal.

The former surgeon and keen cyclist – dubbed ‘Mayorino’ – banned vehicles from Via dei Fori Imperiali between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia, among other places, in an effort to realise Rome as a huge open air museum.

The Italian capital also recently unveiled a plan to tax coaches €1000 per day. The move was denounced as ‘intolerable discrimination’ by the International Road Transport Union.

However, Marino is not going quietly and clings to hopes his great project may yet be completed.

He said in a statement (via ANSA.it), ‘I submit my resignation, knowing that it can be lawfully withdrawn within 20 days. This is not cunning on my part: it is the search for a serious verification as to whether it is still possible to rebuild these political conditions.’

‘Systemic corruption has been uncovered, the tentacles have been cut, large-scale reforms are underway, the budget is no longer in the red, the city has resumed attracting investments and investing. The results, therefore, are beginning to become visible.’

‘I cannot conceal a serious fear that past mind sets will return to govern the city.’

Marino won a landslide election in June 2013, a few months after the all-electric Formula E racing series was launched in a high-profile event alongside the Colosseum.

Nothing was ever made public, but soon after he took the reins Rome was quietly dropped as a Formula E venue. The series now races in ten other major cities around the world.

Throughout his time Marino was dogged by controversy, ironically including accusations he dodged traffic fines.

A few weeks ago he annoyed the Pope after tagging along uninvited to the Pontiff’s tour of the United States.

In this latest episode, Marino is accused of submitting ‘questionable’ expenses claims.

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In the week that German junior transport minister Dorothee Bar told a conference that 60t trucks would not be allowed in Germany, Scania reveals a 104t log truck on test in Finland. Despite lower emissions per unit of weight carried due to larger permitted loads, and long-term use in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, so-called eco-Combis – currently limited to 25.25m and 60t - remain controversial in many parts of Europe over safety concerns in the event of an accident. The European Commission reaffirmed recently that their use, particularly cross-border, is a matter for the countries concerned. Belgium and Luxembourg are both currently evaluating trials.

In the week that German junior transport minister Dorothee Bar told a conference that 60t trucks would not be allowed in Germany, Scania reveals a 104t log truck on test in Finland. Despite lower emissions per unit of weight carried due to larger permitted loads, and long-term use in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, so-called eco-Combis – currently limited to 25.25m and 60t – remain controversial in many parts of Europe over safety concerns in the event of an accident. The European Commission reaffirmed recently that their use, particularly cross-border, is a matter for the countries concerned. Belgium and Luxembourg are both currently evaluating trials.

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roundup: BORDERS. The Czech Republic will step up border controls, probably tomorrow (Saturday 10 October) says Prague Post. Like Germany, the Czechs started to keep a closer eye on border crossings with Austria on 13 September, but only on a random basis and only at fourteen border points. These will now be expanded to all twenty crossings, including the very smallest. The fear is that as Hungary finishes its frontier fencing, migrants may be tempted to detour via the Czech Republic on their way to Germany.

Meanwhile, the so-called ‘Visegrad 4’ countries – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – agreed today to jointly patrol the EU’s outer border in southern Hungary reports Daily News Hungary. Operations could start next week.

Since the Czech controls were reinstated there has been little sign of the regular significant delays seen at the Austria-Germany frontier, specifically the three motorways crossings (A12/A93 Innsbruck-Munich, A10 westbound from Salzburg and A8/A3 to Passau). These delays may be about to increase again. State president Horst Seehofer said today the Bavarian government was about to launch a new package of ‘self-defence’ measures against migrants according to Deutsche Welle. In response, the Austrian Interior minister said her country ‘would have to implement more and more border controls.’

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