Amsterdam news roundup | Nov-Dec 2019

Written by on 16/01/2020

 Here’s a local news roundup for Amsterdam …

The shortage of teachers in Amsterdam has lead to the temporary closure of schools, with alderman Marjolein Moorman saying that she “cannot rule out the possibility that even more situations of this kind will arise in Amsterdam.” The teacher shortage is greatest in the Nieuw-West district of the city and in December Het Parool newspaper reported 16 schools have been temporarily closed. The Ru Paré community centre ran an alternative curriculum for as many as 120 children affected. Meanwhile, a school in Amsterdam Noord changed to a four-day school week.

Airbnb is not a home rental agency or real estate agent but an information service, a decision by the highest European court found in December. As a result, Airbnb cannot be forced to curtail holiday rentals, as the city of Amsterdam would like. The European Court of Justice found that Airbnb is not a broker but an information service that makes it possible to search and rent holiday accommodation. Because Airbnb is formally located in the EU Member State of Ireland, governments should not impose restrictions on it, as free movement of services and information applies in the EU. It seems to mean that it is impossible to oblige the platforms to cooperate with the national registration obligation. According to the report by Het Parool newspaper, the municipality says the ruling makes them dependent on the willingness of landlords and platforms if they wanted the registration obligation to succeed. As a result of the judgment, Amsterdam will now have to fully enforce the rule that homes can be rented out for a maximum of thirty days to the landlords themselves. Airbnb does not have to cooperate with that. The company has already refused this since the beginning of this year, since the maximum rental period was reduced by the capital from sixty to thirty days. The city council has been looking for legal options to tackle the business, including a registration requirement for holiday renters. The European judgment makes it difficult to enforce this. Amsterdammers may be required to register their holiday rentals, but Airbnb does not need to facilitate this in any way. Checking is difficult because exact rental addresses can be concealed via the platform. The case in which the European Court has now ruled was the result of a French lawsuit brought by a tourist association and a number of hotels. The Paris city council imposed a fine of 12.5 million on Airbnb. The French court then asked for clarification on the status of Airbnb at the Court in Luxembourg. No appeal is possible against the decision. The European judges do keep a small gap open, however: Governments may impose rules to protect consumers. This may involve tackling fraudulent landlords, fake rental or scams.

From December 2020, travelers can travel by night train from Amsterdam to Munich and Vienna. The international night train will run daily from then on. A one-way trip from Amsterdam to Vienna will take approximately 14 hours. Het Parool reports that the government is allocating a subsidy of €6.7m for the project between 2021 and 2024. The paper says that in the coming years, long train journeys through Europe will not be popular enough to cover the costs with ticket sales alone. Therefore, for the time being, many night trains in Europe remain dependent on subsidies.

The Gault & Millau guide 2020 has awarded five out of their 17 awards to Amsterdam catering establishments or employees. Auberge Jean & Marie (on the Albert Cuypstraat) was voted bistro of the year and Pulitzer’s Bar got cocktail of the year. The dessert of the year went to Kaagman & Kortekaas. Sacha Speckemeier from Spectrum resturant at the Waldorf Astoria is the host of the year. The Prijs-Plezier of the year goes to restaurant Zoldering on the Utrechtsestraat.

The AEB modern separation plant that sorts Amsterdam waste is performing far below expectations. Het Parool newspaper reports that paper, plastics and organic waste is being incinerated. The plant currently delivers less than half of the promised separation. The machine cost 35 million euros and was put into use in 2017 with the promise that by the end of 2019, of the annual 250,000 tons of household waste that can be processed in it, 60,000 tons of valuable raw materials will be separated from the waste automatically. For example: metals, plastics, milk cartons, organic waste, foil and paper. The causes for the diasappointing performance are diverse. Due to Chinese import restrictions, the market for waste paper and cardboard has collapsed. With no customers, the waste paper is not separated and burned with the mass. PET trays – plastic containers for vegetables and meat – can also be separated, but there is hardly any demand for them on the recycling market so they are currently incinerated. However Metal and plastic films are successfully removed from the waste and sold.

The Albert Cuypgarage has won the Betonprijs 2019. It is the first parking garage to be built under an Amsterdam canal, the Boerenwetering. According to Het Parool, it’s been hailed as “a technical tour de force” by Max Bögl (the contractor who also built the Noord/Zuidlijn) and ZJA Architects. Since the garage was put into use – in 2018 – there is nothing visible from above, only glass lifts and an elegant entrance and exit. The Albert Cuypgarage compensates for lost street parking in the area.

The noise barrier of the A10 at Zeeburgereiland has been defective since April 2019. Local residents have been suffering from noise pollution for more than half a year. Het Parool newspaper reports that many panels are missing from the noise barrier, especially at the place where the ring road runs over the IJburglaan. In April: inspectors discovered that some of the glass panels there had cracks. As a precaution, the municipality removed the part of the barrier to prevent falling panels from falling on passing cars. The contractor who had installed the barrier was expected to install replacements, but he has since gone bankrupt. So the municipality has had to put out a tender for a new contractor to complete the repairs, which is a time-consuming process.

Amsterdam’s monthly Museum Market, where artists and creative entrepreneurs sell their work, will not take place in December and January. According to Het Parool newspaper, the Zuid district of the city has decided that with the addition of the temporary ice rink on Museumplein, it will be too busy. The Museum Market has run every month since 2013 on the Museumplein. It should be back in February 2020.

The municipalities of Diemen and Ouder-Amstel want to lower maximum speed on the A10 to 80km per hour. They have asked minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen to consider this, saying that the measure will contribute to better air quality and health of their residents. A recent RIVM health study showed there were some short term effects from short-term exposure to ultrafine particles on residents around Schiphol. As Het Parool newspaper reports, the maximum speed on the A10 West ring road, between the De Nieuwe Meer junction and the Westpoort connection, is already 80 kilometers per hour, and it is already a wish of the Amsterdam coalition to make this so for the entire ring road around Amsterdam.

The municipality may lose out on millions through unpaid housing fraud fines, according to Het Parool newspaper. Many of these sanctions were imposed years ago, but have still not been collected. The amount of unpaid fines for housing fraud amounts to roughly €7m, according to an investigation by the Amsterdam Court of Auditors. Fines are issued for illegal holiday rental or subletting, for example. The city still hopes to collect overdue fines, and saw some improvement in the summer months in 2019; collecting as much as in the whole of 2018. Amsterdam has introduced a reporting obligation: every Amsterdammer who rents out his house to tourists must report this. In practice, only one in three rented properties is reported. Councillor Laurens Ivens will continue to investigate improvements to the system.

Amsterdam is going to invest more than €10m to improve access to sports in the city, with the aim that every Amsterdammer must feel welcome to play sports, regardless of origin, culture or orientation. Het Parool newspaper reports that the municipality is entering into discussions with all sports associations about racism and discrimination. Ultimately, there must be an Amsterdam Sports Agreement between the municipality and sports providers, sports associations, and other partners and amateur associations will also be required to make every effort to eliminate structural racism and discrimination. To prevent young people from dropping out, typically around the age of fourteen, Amsterdam will focus more on street sports, such as street football, rollerblading, basketball or BMX.

Trains between Centraal Station and Schiphol Airport to go up to 8 times per hour according to new plans reported by Het Parool newspaper. As part of the Multi-year Program for Infrastructure, Spatial Planning and Transport, the national government and the Amsterdam region will also invest €539m in the accessibility of the area between Amsterdam and Hoorn, with the money to go on road widening and public transport. There will be extra lanes on the A7 and A8 and measures for the local road network, bicycles and public transport. Schiphol Airport will be redesigned: with the intention to substantially expand Schiphol Plaza and also separate train and airline travelers. As a result, public transport gates will finally arrive at the airport. There will also be a new bus station with direct access to the platforms.

Unauthorised immigrants will be housed in the large old building at Plantage Muidergracht 14 in Centrum. The Plantage Muidergracht building has been vacant for a long time and was considered for the new location for Cartesius 2 secondary school. But the renovation costs were too high. Properties on Anderlechtlaan and Overhoeksplein will also be used for housing unauthorised immigrants. According to Het Parool newspaper, Amstedam will place between 80 and 140 migrants in the next three years. At these shelters, undocumented and unsuccessful persons will be encouraged to prepare for their return to their country of origin. with help and guidance. When all renovations are completed, there will be a maximum of 586 beds available for unsuccessful, unauthorised and undocumented migrants in at least ten locations in the city. There is also a regular asylum seekers’ centre in the city, on Willinklaan in Amsterdam Nieuw-West there is room for more than five hundred offical asylum seekers.

Most Amsterdammers still support the coalition, although support is declining, according to a survey by the Research, Information and Statistics department of the municipality of Amsterdam, commissioned by Het Parool and AT5. The number of D66 supporters have been halved in five years and GroenLinks is still the largest party in Amsterdam – the party would come out at 18.6% of the votes according to the research. That is less than the 20.4% that GroenLinks earned in election in 2018, but still a large lead on the new number two: PvdA. Though reduced, the Amsterdam coalition of GroenLinks, PvdA, D66 and SP still has a majority of the votes: 51.9%, compared to 54.7% in 2018. Almost 62% of voters are in favor of making the city car-free. Almost half supports the reception of asylum seekers who have exhausted all legal remedies, whereas only a third of voters are against this policy.

‘Inclusive’ and ‘diverse’ are the key words in the city’s new art and culture memorandum Councillor Touria Meliani released the paper, ‘The power of art and culture’, towards the end of 2019, explaining how she believes the municipal art and culture subsidy should be distributed in the period 2021-2024. Meliani believes the art and culture sector should be a reflection of the city. According to Het Parool newspaper, the terms ‘inclusion’ and ‘inclusive’ are found 37 times in the 39-page file; ‘diverse’ and ‘diversity’ are mentioned 39 times. All applicants must include an ‘diversity and inclusion action plan’ in their application. The twenty institutions that are, are in principle, certain of an Arts Plan grant are: Amsterdam Museum, Bijlmer Parktheater, Bimhuis, De Meervaart, De Melkweg, Eye Filmmuseum, Foam, Frascati, Holland Festival, IDFA, ITA, the Concertgebouw, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, National Opera & Ballet, Paradiso, Podium Mozaiek, Stedelijk Museum, Tolhuistuin, and Toneelmakerij. The City Council also makes money available for an ‘OBA NEXT’ on the Zuidas (a ‘library focused on innovation, media literacy and digital resilience’), and the renovation of the Amsterdam Museum and the open air theater in the Amsterdamse Bos. The details can be downloaded on the website of the municipality, here. (amsterdam.nl/kunst-cultuur/kunstenplan/)

NB Ever wanted to be a news reader? We’re looking for volunteer news correspondents for online and radio. Get in touch with us at info@broadcastamsterdam.nl.

 

Sources: Het Parool / AT5 / NLtimes.nl / Dutchnews.nl.

 

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