Rome's urban planning chief resigns

Paolo Berdini ninth senior figure to leave Raggi team.

Rome's urban planning chief Paolo Berdini has become the latest high-profile figure to abandon the administration of the capital's mayor Virginia Raggi of the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S).

Berdini's position had become increasingly precarious in recent days after Italian daily newspaper La Stampa quoted him stating that Raggi was "unfit" to lead Rome.

Berdini apologised for his comments and tendered his resignation, which was rejected initially by Raggi, before the planning chief left regardless on 14 February.

Raggi accepted Berdini's resigination the second time around with the remark: “Enough is enough, we are moving onwards.”

However Berdini, who is a highly reputable urban planner, took a parting shot at Raggi, accusing her administration of ignoring the plight of the city's suburbs while seemingly being ready to endorse the grandiose plan by local soccer team AS Roma to build a new stadium and business park in the southwest Rome district of Tor di Valle.

Describing Rome's suburbs as "sinking under endless degradation" and facing an "increasing housing crisis", Berdini railed against the stadium project as “currently the biggest real estate speculation in Europe."

Berdini, who had called for the project to be scaled back dramatically, becomes the ninth senior figure to depart the team of the embattled Raggi since she came to office last June.

Berdini's departure is a further blow for the mayor's M5S movement which prides itself on being the “clean” alternative to mainstream Italian political parties.