Amsterdam needs Europe's last dictator
by Eduard Schaepman, on 20 Jun 2019
Amsterdam has lost its vision. Well, Amsterdam has lost nothing of course, but the board of Femke Halsema has lost her vision. During the last edition of PROVADA I suddenly thought of a solution: we have to bring the 'last dictator of Europe', as he is also called, to our capital.
Mayor Leopold Lippens (77) has been in charge in Knokke for 40 years. He made the seaside resort blossom into a wonderful place, and has remained quite normal, as is evident from the nice article of our friends of the Quote in honor of his political birthday. They tell how they received his mobile number via the town hall to make an appointment for an interview, with the announcement that Count Lippens was on holiday, but that they could were welcome to give him a call anyway. We are talking about an interview request from the Quote ladies and gentlemen, so how refreshing is this response! We can't say that about our Mayor of Amsterdam, because at our invitation to the opening of Tribes Amsterdam Raamplein, her secretariat indicated that she was unfortunately unable to attend - even before we could mention a date. How typical.
Count Lippens looks at his city Knokke and thinks about the future. Years ago, he decided that Knokke should become a tourist resort, where the rich could go to in the summer and spend a few weeks at the beach. With his strategy he responds to this: in the summer there is no construction to keep the peace in the seaside resort (because that's what holidaymakers are looking for: peace and quiet. And they are the ones who are visiting the catering establishments...). With us, Mrs. Halsema decided that boats on the Amsterdam canals should not contain more than 15 people, and with that, all bachelor parties, family days, company outings and other celebrations are nipped in the bud. These party-goers will go to another city (and other restaurants, bars and so on). I get it: it's getting too crowded. But if you have a vision, and you really want to go for the future of your city, then you should be creative.
Mayor Lippens ran into the same problem. It got a bit crowded in Knokke. Do you limit the visits to the beach to households with only 3 people and do you refuse the rest and fine those who are with 4 people in order to decrease the crowd? No, that is at the expense of the hospitality (and ultimately the turnover for entrepreneurs) of Knokke. So, Count Lippens went looking for a piece of land to expand his beloved Knokke and even went across borders: Cadzand, the last Dutch coastal town before the Belgian border, serves the growing flow of Belgian tourists. That's how it can be done too.
We're only talking about the partying people and holidaymakers, because let's not even start about housing in Amsterdam. All those students who are looking for a place, but especially the starters and expats who have to go through a bloody bidding war to be able to live a bit near their work. Because the rules for building new houses have been tightened up enormously, and the chance that the housing market in Amsterdam will improve is small. If we listen to the needs of the city's users, we cannot respond to them: flexible housing is not an option either.
So, after a conversation with an Amsterdam civil servant and a quick exchange of thoughts with good friend Jort, the following came to my mind: ‘let's bring Count Lippens here’. Perhaps he sees a solution for our capital, or even wants to create a plan for the future. Who knows, maybe we’re going to expand Amsterdam to Almere?