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Hamburg politician resigns for de-icing affair

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Hamburg politician resigns for de-icing affair
Photo: DPA
17:30 CET+01:00
The president of Hamburg's city parliament resigned on Saturday following a scandal over his abuse of the city's de-icing services to clear his own street.

Berndt Röder of the conservative Christian Democrats ordered the winter road services to de-ice the area outside his house in the district of Groß Borstel in early February. The ensuing public outcry has now cost Röder his job, a CDU spokeswoman confirmed Saturday.

Röder recently described the decision as a "cardinal error," but refused to consider resignation for what has been dubbed "Wintergate."

The favouritism caused outrage in Groß Borstel. “People are surprised,” said Wolf Wieters, chairman of the local community association. “Streets on which many people live are pure skating rinks and Mr Röder's street, of all places, has been painstakingly cleaned.”

A parliamentary insider confirmed the suspicions of the people in the area: the president of the city-state's legislature had given local authorities the understanding that he would like his street to be cleared first.

“It extended past three corners, but the matter was quite clear,” the insider said, adding that no other politician had made such a barefaced request.

Röder has been in trouble before, in 2004, when he decided to test the real-life response time of the Hamburg police by faking an emergency call. He was strongly criticised by the police union and the media, and fined €2,500.

After months of steady snow, and with Germany's temperatures still languishing below zero, the permanent ice has caused a spike in injuries. Many hospitals have seen a rise in broken bones, which they are blaming on poorly cleared streets. Some hospitals had so many cases they'd stopped counting, according to a survey by news agency DPA.

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