ABC News (Australien) - Online-Auftritt des Senders unter vom 5.3.2010

German town calls for sponsorship of potholes

Rachael Brown reported this story on Friday, March 5, 2010

SHANE MCLEOD: Those who donate money to local council projects often have their contribution honoured with a plaque.

But one cash strapped village in Germany is offering donors its potholes.

To help pay for its crumbling roads the town is selling the holes in them for 50 euros - about $AU 75.

Rachael Brown reports.

RACHAEL BROWN: The little village of Niederzimmern lies near Leipzig in eastern Germany. And for the sale price of 50 euros residents can buy a hole.

After nagging by the town residents to do something about the village's crumbling roads Niederzimmern's Mayor Christoph Schmidt-Rose came up with the novel idea of selling the problem.

CHRISTOPH SCHMIDT-ROSE: Yes it's a little bit crazy.

RACHAEL BROWN: Experts estimate that months of bad winter weather have left 40 per cent of Germany's roads badly damaged. But the recession has made it hard for local authorities to patch them up.

Mr Schmidt-Rose hopes his brainchild will change that.

CHRISTOPH SCHMIDT-ROSE: When I look at our internet site more than 20,000 people have looked at it. The idea is not that you get the real pothole. The idea is that the people, that you laugh and will say okay I have a pothole in Niederzimmern.

RACHAEL BROWN: Your very own pothole, once it's filled, will come with a little coin bearing your name, or your child's or a greeting to a friend or grandma perhaps.

Christoph Schmidt-Rose says advertisers have snapped up this idea of new marketing space.

CHRISTOPH SCHMIDT-ROSE: Many television channels bought one or newspapers bought one, and a lot of interest in it.

RACHAEL BROWN: Could that be a bit dangerous? People should probably be watching where they're going instead of looking at the coins on the road?

CHRISTOPH SCHMIDT-ROSE: (Laughs) Maybe. If we have a very interesting one, we will select it and we may show it.

RACHAEL BROWN: We have a saying in Australia it's like pouring money down the drain. But I'm guessing you would think that this isn't a situation like that? That this is quite valuable for the town?

CHRISTOPH SCHMIDT-ROSE: I hope that I get the money to make the streets better, but I am very happy if many people around the world will laugh about it and will be happy. That's a major aim of this idea.

But I hope that I get some people from Australia who will know Niederzimmern and who will pay 50 euros for a plaque head in our street. And maybe someone will come to visit where they have, what we have done with the street.

SHANE MCLEOD: Niederzimmern's Mayor Christoph Schmidt-Rose ending that report from London reporter Rachael Brown.