Peter Gillis and his Oostappen Group have repeatedly urged the municipality of Asten to be allowed to receive asylum seekers at the Prinsenmeer holiday park. The municipality refused the offer time after time without giving any reason, even when the Oostappen Group claimed that the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) had shown interest. This is evident from documents in the hands of Omroep Brabant. The COA denies that this ever happened.
The Oostappen Group sent six emails between November 2021 and June of this year. The emails are in the hands of Omroep Brabant after an appeal to the Public Government Act (woo). Reception of asylum seekers can be a great source of income for holiday parks.
The emails show how much Oostappen wanted to receive asylum seekers. All kinds of arguments are put forward why, among other things, the Prinsenmeer holiday park in Asten could be a suitable reception location.
The municipality has stated time and time again that it is not interested and does not see the holiday park as a possible reception location. A reason why is not mentioned in any of the emails.
Reception of asylum seekers
In the first email of November 2, 2021, Oostappen Groep writes that the shortage of reception places for asylum seekers creates a ‘socially worrying situation’. According to them, this requires attention from society and that ‘exceeds our ongoing conflict’, the email says.
The municipality of Asten has been in conflict with Oostappen for a long time about the illegal housing of migrant workers. The municipality now wants 500,000 euros from Gillis. The case is with the Council of State because Gillis does not want to pay.
According to the holiday park, the COA has already shown interest in Prinsenmeer, according to the emails. It had been agreed that Oostappen itself would let the municipality know that there was interest, and then ‘further explore the possibilities together with the COA’.
However, the municipality replies, more than three know later, that the COA does not see Prinsenmeer as a realistic possibility at all. When asked, the COA also informs Omroep Brabant that it has never been interested. “The COA has never said that reception at the Prinsenmeer park is a good idea,” says a spokesperson.
4000 beds for Ukrainians
It doesn’t stop Oostappen from continuing to email. On March 10, 2022, a second email will follow in which 4000 beds for Ukrainian refugees are offered, spread over parks in North Brabant, Limburg and Zeeland. “We look forward to discussing further details,” the letter concludes. No response this time.
Another offer will follow on March 29. Oostappen indicates that in addition to Ukrainians, he is also open to the reception of other asylum seekers. The municipality answers in one sentence that comes down to: no interest.
A fourth email will follow on April 19. “We don’t wish this on anyone, do we?” Oostappen writes referring to the reception crisis. Again the COA is quoted, which would have indicated that it would like to look at the possibilities. Again there is a brief rejection from the municipality. The same ritual is repeated on April 26 and June 23.
No reason stated
It is remarkable that none of the letters from the municipality mention a reason for the rejection. The demand for shelters is high and municipalities are all expected to do their part.
When asked, the municipality of Asten informed Omroep Brabant: “The municipality did not accept the offer for the same reason as for the reception of Ukrainians. Due to the circumstances, the park is not suitable for the reception of vulnerable people.”
When asked whether the municipality of Asten has discussed this with the security region and the COA, the municipality replied: “Yes, there has been internal consultation with the security region. Not with the COA, because the initiative was not taken by the COA, but by the Oostappen. Group itself appeared to come.”
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