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Place Flagey: Traders and locals complain of ‘lawless zone’

The buzzing Place Flagey in the trendy Brussels neighbourhood of Ixelles is popular year-round, with its markets, concerts, fairs, and bars keeping it lively at all hours.

Thousands flock to the iconic square every evening to enjoy drinks, often late into the night. But behind the revelry, business owners and local authorities are locking horns as traders struggle with a wave of violence and nuisance caused by rowdy patrons and rough sleepers.

The situation has become so serious that some are even considering closing for good. After the ordeal of the Covid-19 pandemic, some bars were on the brink of bankruptcy. The iconic Café Belga suffered a €322,643 loss in 2020 alone, according to official tax documents. As public health restrictions eased, businesses on the square enjoyed a significant surge in patrons, but with it aggression and disturbances.

Even before the pandemic, proprietors had complained of the square becoming dirty and dangerous, notably as a result of rough sleeping, hard drug use, public urination and defecation, pungent smells, and aggressive begging.

Now, despite a series of meetings on the municipal and regional level to address the lack of cleanliness and security on the iconic square, business owners tell The Brussels Times that things are getting worse.

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