The municipality of Velsen hardly consults with its residents, especially in the most vulnerable neighborhoods it fails to do so. That is what the representatives of the Wijkplatform Velsen-Noord and those of Zee- en Duinwijk in IJmuiden say. The Velsen-Noorders have now lifted their platform, the residents of Zeewijk sent the municipality an urgent letter in August. To date there has been no answer and the measure is full. “It is crazy that you treat your citizens like this.”

    Thomas Jak / NH News

    The idea, which dates back to the 1990s, is wonderful: regular consultation of the municipality with involved citizens from the various neighborhoods in the municipality. Citizens can have a say in their neighborhood platform about policy and the municipality shows that it listens to them.

    The reality in 2023 is completely different. “If you bump people in the head often enough, they will automatically say: ‘look at it’,” says Alex van der Molen, chairman of the platform in IJmuiden Zee- en Duinwijk. “That happened in Velsen-Noord. Those people were so active and involved, and now that platform no longer exists. Zee- en Duinwijk is heading in the same direction.”

    These are the most vulnerable areas of the municipality. Van der Molen sums up: “Unemployment, poverty, drug abuse, impoverishment. Many more migrants than in other places in the municipality, so that relatively many people do not speak the language. All characteristics of vulnerable neighbourhoods. And the problems are irreversible. Enough reports have now been published and disappeared in a drawer at the municipality. Time for action.”

    His letter from three months ago to the municipality was not tender: “A deep mistrust has arisen. We are concerned about the future of the platforms or local democracy. Muddling through as we are now doing is not an option for the Zee- en Duinwijk platform. option.”

    “He used to say ‘I’ll take it with me’ but on the way home he lost it again”

    Mary Duinmeijer and Marjan Tamis about Bram Diepstraten

    Reason enough for the municipality to listen very seriously to involved and concerned residents from the IJmuidense neighborhoods and Velsen-Noord. But they don’t feel taken seriously at all, on the contrary.

    Marjan Tamis and Mary Duinmeijer were both members of the platform in Velsen-Noord and remember plenty of examples. Tamis: “At the end of the monthly consultation between us and the then district alderman Velsen-Noord, he always said: ‘I’ll take it with me’.” “But on the way home he lost it again,” adds Mary Duinmeijer.

    The drop

    And so Velsen-Noord never got the desired digital information sign, Tata Steel cut-through traffic just keeps racing through the village, the unwanted tunnel at the Velsertraverse is actually being built, the Ventweg is still much too wide to handle one-way traffic. and hopefully the Gildenbuurt will be refurbished in 2026. It was originally scheduled for 2002, but kept getting postponed.

    At the end of 2021 the drop for the district platform. There would be one ‘migrant hotel’ come to the village, but that was not even preceded by a meeting or a call from the municipality. The municipality promised to really listen and communicate better with the Velsen-Noorders and managed to prevent closure at that time. In the end, the hotel never materialized.

    It turned out to be just a stay of execution. Tamis: “Last summer, Mayor Dales pushed the asylum boat through.” No one was aware of it, there had been no consultation, ‘we have once again been presented with a fait accompli’, the platform wrote to the municipality. With that the measure was completely full.

    “Do you know what happened when we invited the mayor to the neighborhood? He didn’t come”

    Alex van der Molen, chairman of the Zee- en Duinwijk district platform

    One thing is now clear: the ball is in the municipality’s court. Van der Molen has been waiting for an answer for three months the questions: what does the closing of the Velsen-Noord platform mean for the role and position of the platforms in our municipality? Because he knows that talking, talking, talking now.

    And Van der Molen also wants to know: what is the role and position of the platforms in the municipality of Velsen over the next 4 years? What plans does the municipality have to combat drug nuisance, impoverishment, poverty and high unemployment?

    When an answer will come, he does not know, yet he does not give up yet. “I want to prevent us from going in the same direction as Velsen-Noord. I do expect a serious answer to my questions. Because we need good, widely supported plans. We really need to change course. Do you know what happened when we were about a years ago invited the mayor to come and have a look in the neighborhood? He didn’t come.”

    He also persists because he has seen how decisive the municipality can be if it wants to: “When the asylum boat had to come, all the rules were pushed aside to make it possible. Why was it possible then and in the event of problems in sea and Dunwijk not?”

    Still committed

    Tamis and Duinmeijer say it a bit reluctantly, but still: although they really don’t want a new neighborhood platform anymore, they are quite accessible to the municipality. Tamis: “The contacts are still good, I think they are all nice people, that’s not the problem.” Duinmeijer: “A lot has been done to restore confidence. But they should also ask us: why is this mistrust?”

    The women are still just as committed to Velsen-Noord as when there was still a platform: they discuss with a few villagers in a whatsapp group what is going well and what is not going well in their village. And Tamis will soon join another conversation with the municipality: “It’s just hard to let go, you stay involved.”

    Mayor Dales: ‘The council has made extra money available’

    Mayor Frank Dales: “Consultation and cooperation with the neighborhood platforms is important for our entire council. At the same time, we recognize that things need to be improved and we must pay extra attention to that. That is why we are now really busy making meters. We must continue to speak and work well with each other, precisely because our common goal is so important: wanting to do the best for the centers and the people who live there.”

    “The council has made extra money available, as a result of which there will be district connectors and a coordinator. We are already discussing this with the district platforms. Everyone benefits from well-established permanent contact persons for the districts. This contributes to making the vulnerable districts better .”