Swedish addicts could get glass ‘free zone’

Swedish addicts could get glass 'free zone'
Politicians in the small Swedish town of Falköping want to give alcoholics and drug users a glass-encased zone in the middle of a central square, saying it would lessen public disturbances and allow "the down and out" to socialize.

Two local Moderate Party politicians tabled a motion this week proposing the unconventional “free-zone” in a bid to free other public spaces from alcoholics and drug addicts.

“They should also be able to live the good life,” the motion said.

Moderate Håkan Andersson, head of the municipal opposition, said loiterers kept setting up shop outside the local GP’s office, as well as a central home for the elderly.

“You know what it’s like, the down-and-out can get quite rambunctious, they make a lot of noise, so people make detours to avoid them,” Andersson told The Local.

He added that the two Moderates who penned the “addict shelter” motion did not represent the party’s official line, but said he as well had been concerned about the circus of police and security guards telling the group of up to ten to 15 people to clear off.

Moderate Party politician Christina Jorméus, who sent in the proposal, told the Aftonbladet newspaper that she imagined a space like a bus shelter where addicts could spend time with each other and not feel isolated from society at large in the town of about 13,000 residents.

“They want to be where other people are, which one can understand,” Arnesson said about the proposal for a shelter on the central location Köttorget, which translates to Meat Square in Swedish.

“The proposal does talk about giving them a place where they can see other people,” he said.

While Arnesson admitted it was an round-about way to promote a sort of inclusion, he said he wasn’t opposed to the original spirit of the proposal – to make sure loiterers had a safe place to congregate.

Other local politicians were not keen on the idea.

“This just feels like an updated version of a leper colony,” Falköping’s Social Democrat local government commissioner Conny Johansson told Aftonbladet.

“I dont think it’s fair to talk about leper colonies,” countered Moderate Party local head Håkan Arnesson.

He underscored that at a recent seminar about the homeless, only local representatives from the Moderates and the Christian Democrats showed up to listen. All other parties were absent.

“Politicians in Falköping in general don’t care about the down-and-outs,” Arnesson told The Local.

Ann Törnkvist

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