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Maastricht frontrunner for student energy cost compensation scheme


As recently described in the Volkskrant, Maastricht led the way with 622 applications and 224 awards for student energy allowance. Compared to other municipalities, we were able to help a large group of students who were struggling due to increased energy costs. The difference? In our opinion, the efforts of Volt and NovUM who have made sure that applying for the allowance is as easy as possible and international students can also claim the scheme. We are very proud that we have achieved this and that there are less students in Maastricht who cannot pay their rent because of the high costs.


Follow-up questions street harassment

Written questions

In Maastricht, street harassment, including sexual harassment, unfortunately still occurs daily. In order to address this problem, it is crucial that local policies be established regarding monitoring, awareness and punishment. You may recall that we have previously submitted written questions in this area. However, the response to these questions shows that municipal executives does not have a good overview of street harassment in the municipality. This lack of monitoring causes us serious concern. Therefore, together with GroenLinks and 6 other parties, we have submitted a series of new written questions. By asking these questions, we hope to encourage municipal executives to critically evaluate its own policy on street harassment. Our ultimate goal is better and sharper policy in this area.


The law of demonstration in Maastricht

Written questions

Volt and other local parties have questioned Maastricht's handling of the right to demonstrate. This came up following a report by Amnesty International showing that the city, like many other cities in the Netherlands, has problems with guaranteeing the right to demonstrate. The city officially states that one does not have to ask permission for a demonstration, but residents organizing a protest regularly receive a notice that a "permit" is required. Furthermore, the protest registration page is only in Dutch and requires a DigiD, making it difficult for many Maastricht residents to organize a demonstration. Maastricht lost a court case on the right to demonstrate in 2021 and, by submitting these questions, we hope to hear what has been done since then to improve the situation. Want to know more? You can find the written questions on the right to demonstrate here!


Anti-discrimination facilities in Maastricht

Written questions

Last week we, along with GreenLeft, submitted a series of questions to municipal executives about existing anti-discrimination facilities in Maastricht. The concerned reader may recall that we have asked questions on this topic before. However, recent news that money intended for dealing with discrimination remains on the shelf or even goes to other facilities is worrisome to us to the extent that we felt it necessary to submit follow-up questions. The questions mainly focus on some statements by the discrimination hotline 'ADV Limburg' that contradict the answers to our previously asked questions. By asking new questions, we hope to get a clearer picture of the state of affairs regarding the funding and awareness of ADV Limburg. Should it prove necessary, we will work in the future to increase the awareness of and subsidy for the hotline.


Asylum seekers faster to work

Motion co-sponsored

At the March 28 Council meeting, a motion we co-sponsored with D66 passed. The purpose of this motion is to get promising asylum seekers to work faster. Currently, this group does not have the opportunity to work for the first 6 months they are in the Netherlands and after that only under certain conditions. The approach towards displaced persons from Ukraine has shown that a quick influx into the labor market is possible and promotes participation and integration. In addition, there is a great need for workers in certain sectors. Therefore we call on municipal executives to lobby the government, to investigate possibilities for a pilot, to involve relevant parties such as Podium24 and Startfoundation, and to include early participation and integration in the policy framework for the reception of asylum seekers.


Sunday food sales opening hours


A motion on extending opening hours for food sales on Sundays was considered at the March 28 Council meeting. Other large municipalities in Limburg have had extended opening hours for food chains for years but Maastricht has stuck with a regulation limiting opening hours from 12 a.m. to 6 p.m. since 2015. With the passing of this motion, this will become 08-22h. The VVD, which introduced this motion, arguing that two-income earners, who have little time to do their shopping during the week, are disadvantaged by these limited opening hours. Although we are sensitive to the impact of longer opening hours on small businesses, we ultimately heeded this argument. Mainly because these are chain stores that provide primary necessities of life. We strongly oppose extending this motion. If it is about clothing stores in the future, we will vote against it.


The future of the Pleasure, Art & Science festival

Written questions

Maastricht University's Pleasure, Art & Science festival recently announced that due to rising costs, the event can only be held once every two years organised . The festival is full of cultural events, is free to attend, and aims to "connect the university with the city." A, in our opinion, tremendously wonderful initiative. Last year, the festival was part of Festival Maas of which the Municipality of Maastricht is one of the partners. Taking this into account, we, together with GroenLinks, submitted written questions calling on municipal executives to investigate whether there are possibilities for the PAS festival to still take place annually.


MBO may participate in intro weeks

Response to written questions

Attentive readers will recall that in early February we asked questions to municipal executives about involving the MBO in the introduction week for prospective students (the INKOM). This week we received positive news from Municipal executive Johan Pas: as far as the municipal executives is concerned, the Vista municipal executives will participate in the INKOM next year! A good step towards equal appreciation of every student.


Call to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.


The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management recently decided that the bridge over the Juliana Canal between Itteren and Bunde will not be replaced, but renovated. With this decision, the ministry is withdrawing a promise it made earlier. Very bad in our opinion: the bridge has been in very poor condition for a long time and it is questionable whether a renovation will have the desired effect. For example, the bridge would be raised to accommodate the ever-increasing volume of shipping passing through the Juliana Canal. In addition, the bridge is also used daily by children, and connects the village of Itteren with the rest of Maastricht. Hoping to reverse the ministry's decisions, we, along with 11 other parties, made an appeal to Minister Harbers last week. This letter can be read here.


Calling municipal executives: support for victims in Syria and Turkey

Letter to the municipal executives

Like many others, we were greatly shocked by the disaster in Syria and Turkey. We have seen some incredibly inspiring initiatives emerge in Maastricht to help earthquake victims. We would love for the city of Maastricht to follow the good example of its residents by transferring one euro per resident to Giro555, as many other municipalities have done. Therefore, together with several other parties, we have appealed to the municipal executives of Mayor and Aldermen to donate to Giro555, in order to show solidarity as a city with victims in the disaster area.

‍Here you read the letter to the municipal executives.


Citizen Participation and Resilient Neighborhoods

Activities Municipal executive Anita

Resilient neighborhoods approach is an important theme in our coalition agreement: over the next four years, extra attention will be paid to neighborhood development plans that focus on measures around themes such as living environment, social policy, participation, restructuring, and inclusiveness. The goal is to strengthen the social cohesion and resilience of Maastricht residents, especially in the less affluent neighborhoods. With this goal in mind, Anita, together with, among others, Frans Bastiaens (Municipal executive Stedelijke Ontwikkeling), CircusVis and Albert-Jan Kruiter (the Institute of Public Values) held a theme session on how the concept of Resilient Neighborhoods should take shape in Maastricht. At the forefront was the notion that this theme should not be tackled from a top-down approach but, instead, bottom-up, in which it is of great importance that residents and partner organizations are involved neighborhood development plans.


What is going on with our schools in Maastricht?


The future of the secondary education system in Maastricht is uncertain: there is a debate as to whether Maastricht should have one large school campus for the entire city or offer education on both sides of the Meuse River. To discuss the education system in Maastricht, and to formulate an answer to this issue, Jules and Mart are sitting down with PvdA-Party leader Maren Slangen - a local expert on education. If you also find this topic very interesting, we have good news: you can listen to the whole conversation in episode 10 of our podcast "What's going on with our schools in Maastricht?".


Practical or theoretical education: equal credit for each student

Written questions

Unfortunately, a number of prejudices still exist about MBO or even HBO education. For example, people regularly talk about "higher" or "lower" level of thinking instead of "practical" or "theoretical," with a clear stigma attached to the concept of "lower educated. Completely unjustified, of course. Everyone, whether they have studied practical or theoretical, contributes to our society and is entitled to the same appreciation. Unfortunately, schoolchildren and students are still discouraged from pursuing MBO education, and this while we so desperately need practically educated people. To see how we can reduce the stigma attached to practical studies and the dichotomy between MBO/HBO and university students, we, together with D66 and the PvdA, have submitted a series of written questions to the municipal executives of Mayor and Aldermen. A step in the right direction would be to offer the all students equal discounts at government-subsidized agencies or organizing a joint INKOM for all students. Want to know more? Then read the questions here or watch the article by RTV Maastricht.


Anita member of the Temporary Committee on Asylum and Migration VNG


On Jan. 26, Municipal executive Anita Bastiaans was appointed a member of the Temporary Committee on Asylum and Migration of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities. As a member of the Commission, together with 19 Council members; Mayors; and Aldermen from all over the Netherlands, she will deal with national issues in the field of asylum and migration. With a portfolio that includes, among others, Europe and Euregion, and Integration, refugee work and status holders, this of course fits very well with Anita's work as Municipal executive in Maastricht.


Tackling structural racism and discrimination in Maastricht

Written questions

In a diverse city like Maastricht, racism and discrimination unfortunately occur with some regularity. Together with a number of other parties, Volt asked a number of written questions about racism and other forms of discrimination in Maastricht at the beginning of this month. The hope is that by asking these questions we will get a better insight into the approach to discrimination in the city but also that this will allow us to set up a discrimination hotline. This hotline could give us a better insight into how and where discrimination takes place in the city. With this information, we could write policies in the future that counter racism and discrimination.


The Volt counter and the Energy Surcharge flow chart


We know that applying for the energy allowance can be quite complicated and it is unclear who is or is not entitled to the scheme. Therefore, starting January 20, we will again open Volts "Breusels Lokètsje" at Brusselsestraat 53B. We will then be open every Friday from 10:00-18:00h to offer support in applying for the energy allowance. If you do not have the opportunity to come by but would still like to know if you can claim the scheme? Then take a look at our flow chart.


Cooperation between the municipality and UNU-MERIT

Working visit Municipal executive Anita

Last week Volt Municipal executive Anita paid a visit to UNU-MERIT, a department of the university born out of cooperation between Maastricht University and the United Nations. During this working visit, an open discussion took place on the benefits that a closer partnership between the municipality and the organization could bring. As a UN agency with an international community of scholars, UNU-MERIT can support the city's efforts by providing policy advice and tailored training programs for city officials. In addition, the Institute confirmed its commitment to support the municipality's quest to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.


Energy surcharge: also for international students


We have been working hard in recent months to make an energy surcharge for students a reality. As described earlier, our goal was to make this surcharge as inclusive and fair as possible. We are therefore happy to say that the energy surcharge is finally here, and that a Dutch nationality is not a requirement for claiming the allowance.

There are some other requirements, though. Want to read more or find out if you are eligible? Then read our blog.


Incident at student union Tragos


We, like many other Maastricht people, are appalled by the incident that took place last Friday on the grounds of Tragos. After, due to a campfire getting out of control, the fire department was forced to intervene, it was obstructed by members of the student union while the emergency service tried to extinguish the fire on the grounds. The police had to step in to de-escalate the situation. For Volt and many other parties , meanwhile, the measure is full. Tragos will have to reform itself if it wants to continue to exist as a full member of Maastricht student life.


Tackling (sexual) street harassment in Maastricht

Written questions

Unfortunately, we must conclude that (sexual) harassment still takes place daily in Maastricht. Also just on the street. Because we would like to know what can be done to combat this discrimination, we have asked questions in a broad coalition of parties. We are happy to see that this issue is of interest to many parties and, once we have received an answer, we hope to work with these parties to draw up a concrete plan that addresses street harassment


Energy surcharge also for students: continued

Answer written questions

We recently received answers to our written questions regarding energy compensation for students. From this answer, it appears that the municipality will receive 1.6 million from the state to fund an energy scheme for students. We are pleased that steps have been taken but also have two concerns. For example, it is not clear from the answers to our questions what this energy scheme will look like and whether international students will also be able to claim it. Therefore, in the coming month we will be working hard to ensure that this scheme is implemented fairly and inclusively. In addition, we will also investigate whether this 1.6 million is enough to compensate all students for the high energy costs.


A lobbying registry in Maastricht?

Written questions Party leader Jules

We consider administrative and official integrity of the utmost importance. Therefore, together with GroenLinks and M:OED, we have submitted a number of questions to the municipal executives of mayor and aldermen. With these questions we hope to get a better view of the current measures to prevent corruption and excessive influence on politics by lobbyists. In addition, we see this as the first step toward establishing a local lobby register, in which municipal executives is required to indicate with whom lobbyists within the municipal executives, as well as within official support, have contact.


A new (student) campus

Written questions group member Mart

The coalition agreement talks about the realization of a (student) campus. This campus is an important issue for us. Therefore, on November 16, together with D66, GroenLinks and VVD, we submitted a number of questions to the municipal executives of mayor and aldermen. By asking these questions, we hope to get a better view of the current plans regarding the campus in order to make possible proposals for improvement.

The questions asked can be read here.


Limmel aan de Maas residential project

Answers to questions group member Mart

Mart, along with several other parties, has submitted written questions about the development of the large-scale housing project "Limmel aan de Maas. The Council group finds it important that this project takes into account the need for affordable housing. So by asking these questions, we hope to get a better view of the zoning plan for this area. 

Meanwhile, we have received a reply from the responsible Municipal executive. Unfortunately, we have to report that we are not satisfied with this response. We will discuss this with other parties and determine our next steps based on that. In any case, the Council group can assure you that we are keeping a close eye on this project


A daily school breakfast


Rising energy prices make it difficult for some parents to send their children to school adequately fed. As also described in the Limburger, we therefore co-sponsored a motion by the PvdA during the Council meeting of 08-11-22. With the passage of this motion, the municipality will begin a study early next year on the possibility of providing children with a daily school breakfast.


Whose crisis is this?

Article Limburger

In an opinion piece in the Limburger, Jules discusses how it is possible that the Netherlands is still failing to regulate migrant flows and asks the question "whose crisis is this anyway?" The Council group hopes to convey to readers how politics, due to a lack of long-term vision, stumbles from one crisis to another, and how we all have to choose between a humane society and one that runs on a revenue model. Want to read more? Then click here


Energy surcharge: also for students


A one-time allowance is currently being prepared for all lower-income households, with the exception of students. We find this exception unjustified and discriminatory. Therefore, together with NoVUM, we have started a petition calling on the Dutch government to support students as well.

Update Oct. 16: The petition has been sent to The Hague and is already being discussed in the news.


How does the Mestreechter polity work?


First podcast online: Mart and Jules have recorded the first episode of their podcast and put it on Spotify. Together, they discuss developments every two weeks in the aisles of Mosae Forum - the heart of "Mestreechter politics." The goal of the podcast: to make local politics accessible and understandable.


Written questions to the municipal executives

Written questions on housing fraud

Our council member Mart has posed questions to the municipal executives about dealing with housing fraud and landlord malpractice, especially with international residents. More and more reports are coming in about these practices. We are concerned and would like to know what municipal executives plans to do about this.