Belgian city to fine residents over weeding
A city in Belgium is to start fining its residents for not weeding the pavement outside their homes.
Mayor Sandy Evrard has sent a letter to the citizens of Mesen, telling them they face fines of up to 125 euro ($137; £112) if they neglect to pick litter, clear up dog mess or pull weeds, according to Broadcaster VRT.
Those who show a lack of civic pride have a month to get their houses in order - the new order doesn't come into force until 20 September.
Mesen is Belgium's smallest city with a population of around 1,000 people, and Mr Evrard says that it's only a small proportion who have been sloppy with their house-keeping.
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"Unfortunately, there are people who are uncooperative. Even after several letters over a few months, the weeds flourish in some places. Weeding is not a big problem it most cases, it only takes five minutes of work a week," he told VRT.
But he says he's not going to force people to carry out chores if they cannot. "If you are unable to weed your own weeds, you can let us know. Then we look for a solution together. I'll go to people's homes to hear what the problem is exactly," he told Metro newspaper.
Mr Evrard has high expectations for the city. "It's the only way to make Mesen the most beautiful city in the country", he told De Standaard newspaper.
And it's a message that has found at least one supporter. Cafe-owner Dorine Dewandel told Focus-WTV that she already spends time clearing the terrace outside her establishment, and it's a job anybody can do. "I think the letter from the mayor is a good measure. Mesen is beautiful and it should stay that way," she says.
Reporting by Alistair Coleman
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