D-Day did not become a D-Day in Alkmaar: the council meeting, tonight devoted to the possible use of the former tax office as a shelter for refugees, ended after ten minutes. A majority of the council approved a proposal to remove the item from the agenda for now. “Too many questions.”
There were security guards in all places in the town hall in the center of Alkmaar. Also, no cups, but cardboard cups of coffee were served. And the public gallery was packed, there would also be speakers. In short: fireworks were expected.
But there was a ‘proposal’. And within ten minutes, by Ben Bijl of coalition party BAS. A request to remove the item from the agenda (for now). “This is an important meeting and an important point, yet we are doing this.”
They have ‘not enough information’, is his motivation after a question from the chairman of the meeting mayor Anja Schouten. “We want to know more about the business plan and the announced distribution law. And I don’t expect this to be there within a week.”
With the distribution law, the government forces municipalities and provinces to take in refugees. There is criticism on feasibility – too complex and too unclear, the Council of State ruled at the beginning of this month.
What is it all about? The city council is due to make a decision tonight hot topic in Alkmaar: the vacant former tax office on the Robonsbosweg. WedIs it a so-called Central Reception Location (COL) for refugees?
According to the request of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) and the State Secretary for Asylum and Migration, some 250 asylum seekers must be received ‘for a short period of time’ after their registration and initial screening by the aliens police in Ter Apel.
‘Agreements with COA must be good’
A species second station after their arrival in the Netherlands, with an office for the IND and doctors. Also plans have been announced for the other two buildings: the municipality wants space there for refugees with a residence permit and (Alkmaar) emergency seekers. There was already one two weeks ago information evening for local residents in Hoefplan.
In the previous Alkmaar coalition, more refugee reception was not possible, but the current one – with a composition of other political parties and an alderman with experience on the file – is sympathetic to it.
Because the coalition has a majority in the council, there was a chance that the proposal would pass tonight. The newspaper spoke of ‘D-day’. But then the proposal followed. Seventeen council members voted against Ben Bijl’s proposal, twenty voted in favour. And so the point ‘commissioning Robonbosweg’ has been postponed for now.
D66 is one of the opposition parties that agreed to BAS’s proposal. While that party still insisted on the commissioning in August, Council member Simone Meijnen expressed a critical view last week.
“We are afraid that no clear agreements can be made with the COA,” she explains her voice tonight. “We want to make sure we can take good care of those people. There are still too many question marks and we need to talk more extensively.”
David Rubio Borrajo of PvdA (voted against deleting the item from the agenda and is in favor of using Robonsbosweg) also responds to the ten-minute council meeting.
“Eight speakers came tonight. All for nothing”
“As far as I am concerned, we would have dealt with the proposal tonight. But it is a difficult file.” That his coalition partner submitted this proposal, is this a breach of trust? “We had already heard these sounds. I do not see the coalition falling. There are ambiguities. What the council has expressed is that it wants more time to deliberate and weigh up. That is how democracy works. And the proposal is not shot.”
It is not yet clear when the agenda item will be discussed by the council. There is some annoyance in the crowded public gallery. “Eight speakers came tonight. All for free. And you? That will be a short article, surely?”
The parties that voted against the proposal to delete the agenda item were Liveable Alkmaar, PvdD, SP, ChristenUnie, CDA, GroenLinks, PvdA.
The parties that voted for the deletion of the agenda item were BAS, Senior Party Alkmaar, Forum for Democracy, VVD, Independent Party Alkmaar, D66.