My third theme debate on behalf of GroenLinks in the city council of Zwolle was a theme debate on municipal services and resident engagement. I was responsible for all subjects: (in Dutch):
- Plan van aanpak: Verbeterslag kwaliteit van de stukken voor het bestuur (2022-2025)
- Voortgangsrapportage Dienstverlening 2021
- Beantwoording art. 45 vragen VVD – Wachttijden aanvraag reisdocumenten
- Motie 13-6 Een bos door de bomen zien (voorgestelde wijze van afdoening)
- Contract gaslevering gemeente Zwolle
- Rioolwateronderzoek naar drugs(gebruik) in Zwolle 2022
- Beantwoording art. 45 vragen van GroenLinks en CDA – identiteitsdocumenten
- Voorgestelde wijze van afdoening van motie “Carnivoor geef het door”
- Voorgestelde wijze afdoening motie ‘Op weg naar een gezonde en veilige jaarwisseling’
Since talk time was limited to six minutes per political party, of course choices had to be made on what to talk about. You can watch the debate (in Dutch) below, or read my statement (in English) below the video.
- Plan van aanpak: Verbeterslag kwaliteit van de stukken voor het bestuur (2022-2025): This proposal outlines the ways in which the municipality is planning to make policy (documents) more understandable and use less jargon. A special team (versimpelteam) has been formed for this task.
- Voortgangsrapportage Dienstverlening 2021: Performance stats on the services our municipality offers to residents and local businesses. From process time for an application for a permit to waiting time while calling the municipality.
- Beantwoording art. 45 vragen VVD – Wachttijden aanvraag reisdocumenten: Questions asked by the VVD on processing times for passport applications.
- Motie 13-6 Een bos door de bomen zien: the proposed method of settling of the motion Een bos door de bomen zien by the VVD.
- Contract gaslevering gemeente Zwolle: in the First theme debate: Russian Gas, Coffeeshop supply chains and using technology for more efficiency in the social domain we discussed the sanctions and consequences. In this debate an update is given on the solution and the costs.
- Rioolwateronderzoek naar drugs(gebruik) in Zwolle 2022: in the ADD LINK TO ROUNDTABLE we discussed an earlier version (2021) of this survey. It has been repeated for 2022.
- Beantwoording art. 45 vragen van GroenLinks en CDA – identiteitsdocumenten: The answers on the questions we asked about passports see Art. 45 questions: Possible problems with passports? for more information.
- Voorgestelde wijze van afdoening van motie “Carnivoor geef het door”: the proposed method of settling of the motion “Carnivoor geeft het door” by PvdD. Which aims to make food offered by the municipality vegetarian or plant based by default. Forcing people who want meat in there meals/snacks to ask for it, instead of the other way around.
- Voorgestelde wijze afdoening motie ‘Op weg naar een gezonde en veilige jaarwisseling’: the proposed method of settling of our motion “Op weg naar een gezonde en veilige jaarwisseling” about multi annual policy on fireworks during the turn of the year.
I have selected a number of issues that the GroenLinks would like to highlight. Starting with the proposed method of settling of the motion “Op weg naar een gezonde en veilige jaarwisseling.” by GL and D66.
Although the ambition of our motion is mentioned in paragraph two of the proposal, GroenLinks sees little of that ambition in the rest of the proposal. While other big cities are introducing a total ban on consumer fireworks, the proposal feels a bit like patching things up, waiting for national policy. GroenLinks would therefore like to see that the Mayor comes up with a new plan early next year.
Let’s be clear, GroenLinks is happy with the statement that Zwolle is in favor of a total ban on consumer fireworks and with the fireworks-free zones around animal pastures, the hospital and locations where refugees are currently living. These are steps in the right direction, but it does not go far enough. Take those fireworks-free zones, which are far too small. To set off fireworks in the fireworks-free zone, around the corner from my house, I would almost have to climb over the fence of the animal pasture. These zones should extend at least to a few streets away from these locations. Is the mayor willing to enlarge the zones?
Moreover, the measures announced focus mainly on the turn of the year itself, but there is nuisance earlier and even after New Year’s Eve. For instance, the manager of the petting zoo in Park Weezelanden told me that she found firework remnants in the pens of animals as early as early November. Can the Mayor indicate what additional measures have been taken in the run-up to (say Oct-31 until Dec) and after the turn of the year (the entire month of January) to prevent nuisance from fireworks in the fireworks-free zones?
GroenLinks also sees that another motion by CU, GL, Swollwacht and VVD around this topic, about setting up a fireworks nuisance hotline with an interactive map is dismissed with better cooperation arrangements between Police and Municipality (which is of course a good thing). But low-threshold reporting of fireworks nuisance is not a phone call to the police. Can the mayor indicate how he will lower the threshold for reporting fireworks nuisance?
Finally, our motion asked for multi-year policy and this proposal only addresses the upcoming turn of the year. No future-proof policy, ambitions, no alternatives to fireworks and not together with our residents. As far as GroenLinks is concerned, the Mayor may deliver a new proposal early next year to deal with this motion and the current proposal is therefore not ripe for decision-making. Can the Mayor promise that no later than the Perspectiefnota, a multi-year fireworks policy to deal with our motion will be submitted to the council? In addition, GroenLinks together with the PvdD and others is discussing the motion announced by Ms Mathijssen for a local ban on consumer fireworks in Zwolle, as part of the multi-year fireworks policy. As far as we are concerned, this local ban can be implemented during the turn of the year 23-24
Turning to the rest of the topics, we would like to express our compliments on the information note Contract gaslevering gemeente Zwolle. Both how the municipality dealt with this issue and how clearly the document was written are certainly worthy of compliments. The proposed way of settling of the “Carnivoor geef het door” motion also deserves compliments, GroenLinks is looking forward to all plant based and vegetarian snacks during long meetings ;).
Then the sewage survey on drug use. VOLT colleagues will be pleased to see that the municipality has started working with the Icelandic prevention model. GroenLinks is glad to see the commitment to preventive measures and to looking more broadly than just drug use, but also at why people start abusing substances. However, we do miss broader education. Education in schools about the dangers of drug use and crime are important, but society will never move towards zero use. So according to GroenLinks, attention should also be paid to conscious use, for instance where to get drugs tested, which combinations to avoid, should you drink a lot of water and what to do about nutrition. We hope this can be included in the development of the various approaches.
GroenLinks is further pleased to see that our municipality is putting so much effort into making documents more understandable for the council and our residents. By using tools within the organization, deploying writing coaches and writing training courses, the experts of our municipality learn to translate their specialism into something that I, you and other residents can understand better. At work I often see the friction between the diehard techies and the people from communications who are trying to create an accessible piece on the website for our target audience. It’s a balance between using appropriate legal or technical language and “just” describing exactly what is being discussed or decided.
Finally, I would like to comment on the Voortgangsrapportage Dienstverlening 2021. Nice to see that our services scored such tidy marks! GroenLinks likes this new method of reporting. However, we would like to see more depth on some figures. For instance, the number of complaints or objections is often mentioned in a category, but it is not indicated how many of them were declared founded. For specific WOO (formerly WOB) requests, we would like to know how often deadlines were met/exceeded. On the issue of digital accessibility of the municipality’s websites, GroenLinks sees little progress since the last audit, we would like to hear what the current status of this project is and what the planning is for this.
What will happen because we participated:
- A motion together with PvdD will be drafted on banning the use of consumer firework in Zwolle
- The mayor promised that In the first half of 2023 – prior to the PPN – the experiences around the turn of the year will be evaluated, also looking at experiences elsewhere in the country, including the 12 municipalities where a (local) ban on fireworks already applies for the coming turn of the year. Based on this evaluation, the Mayor will come up with a proposal for the multi-year fireworks policy, also involving the city