Amsterdam news roundup | April 2019

Written by on 05/05/2019

 Here’s a local news roundup for Amsterdam this month …

The Westergasfabriek complex next to Westerpark will now be known simply as ‘Westergas’. As Het Parool newspaper reports, the site itself is also changing following new ownership. The intention is that it will bcome more of a place where different forms of culture come together, a ‘cultural village’ for art, theatre, sports and nature to meet. There will be new, original programming at the Westergastheater, yoga, and nightlife, such as the Radio Radio DJ bar that opened back in August. The new World Press Photo House is also a new tenant at the Westergas, with exhibition space as well as the offices of World Press Photo. The new Westergas concept will be officially opened on 17 May.

There will be added camera surveillance at the NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam Noord following some alarming incidents reported by students living in this area. Several students have said they were harassed by men over the last few months, with one student seriously abused by a man when she was walking home at night. Many students feel unsafe and resort to calling fellow residents to meet them at the ferry. Police and the Duwo housing association (Noord district) met with over 100 students to discuss safety and extra safety measures have been agreed, including a lighting inspection and extra camera surveillance.

From 8 April scooters, aka mopeds, are (finally!) banned from the majority of Amsterdam cycle paths. Scooters with blue number plates must now use the main roads with car traffic, and wear a helmet, on about 80% of Amsterdam’s roads – those with a high volume of cycle lane traffic. Fines for offenders will not start until June.

A third of young people in Amsterdam did not participate in the recent meningitis vaccination drive. In April, a massive vaccination campaign was shared on posters at bus stops, spots on radio station FunX, AT5 television and on social media. However, as reported by Het Parool newspaper, of the 21,510 young people in Amsterdam, Diemen and Amstelveen who were invited to get a vaccine, only 13,564 (63%) attended and got vaccinated. Amsterdam as a whole scored the lowest in the country. For comparison: the national average is 86.5%. The next meningitis vaccination round will take place in June 2019.

From 1 July 2019, Amsterdam parking fines will go up to €62.70, plus the hourly rate of wherever the vehicle is parked. Het Parool newspaper reports that in 2017, the city raised €205.2 million in fines for incorrect parking, which is spent entirely on enforcing the fines.

The condition of the canal walls along parts of the Nieuwe Herengracht, the Herengracht and the Lijnbaansgracht is so bad that parts of these streets will close for car traffic. These emergency measures mean the Nieuwe Herengracht is closed for all vehicles between the Rapenburg and the Anne Frankstraat, part of the Herengracht is closed for vehicles, and the Lijnbaansgracht is no longer accessible for cars from the entrance at Café Brandstof. Cyclists and pedestrians are still permitted. Maintenance of Amsterdam’s canal walls, some of which are hundreds of years old, has been neglected in recent decades. In the coming years a lot of money will be needed to renovate embankments in the canal belt.

The majority of Amsterdam cyclists want a tunnel under the IJ, according to new research requested by Het Parool newspaper. The municipal statistics bureau (OIS), found that approximately four out of ten Amsterdammers think that a cross-river connection is important, three out of ten think it is unimportant and the rest is neutral. About half of Amsterdammers have a preference for a tunnel under the IJ. Not even a quarter of Amsterdammers want the municipality to build a bridge but the city council will still focus on the idea of a bridge to Noord for now, though.

Due to increased numbers of visitors, the Rembrandthuis wants to spend €7m on expansion and renovation. Located in the house where Rembrandt van Rijn lived and worked between 1639 and 1658, the museum added an additional building for exhibitions in 1998, but these facilities now need replacing and enlarging. A third adjacent building would be added to the complex, the home of the the seventeenth century art dealer Hendrick van Uylenburgh, for whom Rembrandt worked. Subject to financing, the museum hopes to start the renovation in 2021 and would like to implement the building work in phases, so that the Rembrandthuis does not have to close.

The city council would like the Westerpark to grow much bigger to accomodate the needs of a growing city. Nearby, the new Haven-Stad development will see between 40,000 and 70,000 homes built in the near future. Together with local residents the municaplity are considering a range of options. At the moment, the current Westerpark is sandwiched between the Haarlemmerweg, the railway and the Westergasterrein. The municipality belives the park should in the future include the Westergas itself, the allotment gardens up to Spaarndammerdijk, the cemetery on the other side of the train tracks and the nature playground Het Woeste Westen. These spaces should not change drastically but become more accessible and enable people to cycle through the space more easily. With this expansion, the Westerpark would be 106 hectares, more than twice as large as the Vondelpark.

Amsterdam will cut down 936 Canadian poplar trees in 2019, as there is a risk of branches falling down and causing injuries. A cyclist has already been hit in Amsterdam Noord and in nearby Hoorn, a falling branch crushed a boy’s knee. The trees are being replaced (by another type of poplar or an elm tree, for example), but not always in exactly the same position. Canadian poplars have already been brought down in the Amsterdamse Bos, Park Frankendael, Flevopark, Elzenhagen, Zeeburgereiland and Martin Luther Kingpark. New gaps should also be expected near Schellingwouderbrug in Noord, Rembrandtpark, Vondelpark, Erasmuspark and Nieuwe Meer. A map of which trees will remain, and which will be cut, can be found at Six thousand Canadian poplars can remain for now.

At least seven restaurants in Amsterdam are currently under stricter supervision by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) because they have not complied with rules regarding hygiene and food safety. These include Snackbar Cito on the Kinkerstraat, 35 year-old business, Rakang Restaurant, Tempo Doeloe on the Utrechtsestraat, and Restaurant De Portugese, Surabaya Green and Simit Sarayi on the Nieuwendijk.

Jaap Edenbaan ice rink will change into a city beach for the summer. 170 cubic meters of sand has been used to transform the Jaap Eden ice rink into a beach. After the summer, the sand will be cleared up thoroughly before the return of the ice rink in winter. Swimming will not be permitted on the beach.

The parent company of Hudson’s Bay department stores has said it will have to close its Dutch department stores this year. The Canadian Hudson’s Bay Company came to the Netherlands in 2016, aiming to open ‘twenty branches or more’. The first department stores were opened in September 2017, including the flagship store on the Rokin in Amsterdam. But at the end of last year it already appeared that consumer sales have been disappointing and the operational losses were higher than estimated. Het Parool reports that if the current problems continued unabated, the Dutch department stores would suffer a €1billion loss by 2027.

The two Van Gogh paintings that were stolen from the Van Gogh Museum in 2002 are now once again on view at the museum, following restoration work. Seascape at Scheveningen (1882) and The exit of the Reformed Church in Nuenen (1884-1885) were recovered in Italy in 2016.

Wouter Koolmees (Minister for Social Affairs and Employment)  has abolished the quota restricting the numbers of visas available for Asian chefs. The condition still applies that specialist Asian chefs may only come here if no Dutch or European equivalent can be found. The 2014 ban on bringing Asian chefs to the Netherlands and then subsequent quotas, have made it very difficult for Asian restaurants and hotels. They have been unable to find Dutch chefs who can sufficiently master the complex Asian cuisine. The current quota of 2,300 visas will be lifted after 1 October, and the chefs will be able to stay two years instead of one.

The BBC plans to move a group of employees to Amsterdam when Britain leaves the European Union. This new office will enable the broadcaster to continue to broadcast its channels within the EU. According to European legislation, broadcasters must have employees within the EU in order to have a broadcast license. The BBC’s main offices will obviously remain in the UK.

Amstelveen city council has selected Tjapko Poppens as their new mayor. Poppens is 48 years old and a member of the VVD. Poppens was chosen from the fourteen candidates who applied for mayor at the end of last year. Poppens was born in Groningen and studied business and public administration in Wageningen. Poppens is expected to be able to start his new position at the end of May.

In April, Amsterdam’s so-called Flower Market made international news when it was announced that the city’s last proper floating florist was to close. Florist, Michael Saarloos had been on the Flower Market, the Bloemenmarkt, for 45 years but is now giving it up, with most of the other stalls simply selling  “bulbs, clogs and souvenirs” to tourists.

The Termeer Groep family business, known for brands such as Sacha and Manfield, is taking over the stores of fashion and lifestyle brand Sissy-Boy which recently went bankrupt. Termeer wants to continue the Sissy-Boy stores in the Netherlands and hopes to retain about 80% of staff.

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Sources: Het Parool / AT5 / /


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