Dutch news in brief, Friday 27 November 2009

27th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

Read the roundup of today's Dutch press from Radio Netherlands.

Pay-as-you-drive debate turns nasty

nrc-next described how the Netherlands’ Transport Minister Camiel Eurlings brought “a wheelbarrow full of road pricing reports” into Thursday’s transport debate.

The minister was trying to prove this proposed pay-per-kilometre scheme is not the result of “hasty decision-making”.

The paper noted “it was a light-hearted start to a debate that soon turned nasty”.

The opposition VVD, self-styled champions of the Dutch driver, hammered the minister’s plan and accused him of lying about how much it was going to cost the motorist.

In response, Eurlings challenged the VVD spokesman to “act like a real man” and enter a vote of no confidence if he didn’t believe him.

nrc-next sees the tough-talking tone of the debate as “a sign of increasing political and social concern” about the pay-per-kilometre road-pricing scheme recently presented by the minister.

It pointed out De Telegraaf has launched a front-page campaign against the scheme and that the Dutch automobile association ANWB has yet to give its backing. Fervent opponents were stoking the fires of dissent with online petitions and high-profile campaign slogans such as “Kilometre charge – No way!” and “Stop Big Brother!”.

However, the minister was not to be moved.

“I have strong arguments,” he was quoted as saying in de Volkskrant. “If this system wasn’t fair, I wouldn’t be standing here!”

But he was also forced to concede that “If public support ebbs away, the system won’t go ahead.”

With nrc-next describing that support base as “fragile” and “showing more and more cracks”, the minister may need more than a humble wheelbarrow when the plan is debated in greater depth after the Christmas recess.

Dutch: Happy but complaining lot
The Netherlands Institute for Social Research, the SCP, said 84 percent of those surveyed claim to be happy or very happy in the country, reported de Volkskrant.

The annual report on the state of the Netherlands revealed that “crisis or no crisis, the basic attitude of the Dutch remains fairly consistent: happy on a personal level, but concerned about society and dissatisfied with politics”.

It also concluded the impact of the economic crisis as figures for confidence in the future plummeted from 68 percent to 29 percent, most people were happy.

The report also revealed that most people trust the politicians. Rob Bijl of the SCP points out “on trust in politics and government, the Netherlands scores high compared to other countries: we are a high trust society”.

Many Dutch politicians feel put upon these days but Bijl argued they should lighten up: “People in this country feel there’s a gulf between them and the politicians in The Hague but is that really such a bad thing? It’s a citizen’s job to complain about politics … politicians shouldn’t get all worked up about it.”

Tips to relieve you of “autumn dip”
It’s been another wet and windy start to the day in the Netherlands and with a weekend of rain forecast, the irrepressible AD presented a whole page of tips offered by eight “experts” to “beat the autumn blues”.

About 1.2 million Dutch people claim to suffer from “an autumn dip”, reported the paper.
Unfortunately, most of these specialists seem to be more interested in their own bank balance than the well-being of the nation. There’s the sauna owner who suggested you go for a sauna, the travel agent who recommended an exotic autumn break and the clean-up stylist – whatever that might be – who declares that domestic chores are the ideal way to generate “physical and mental energy”.

Refreshingly there’s also a fashion guru who warned us all not to go shopping because “it just gets you down … everything you like is either too expensive or doesn’t fit … and you end up with sore feet, feeling fat”.

Customers ban from wearing hoods in stores
AD reported Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst is allowing shops to impose a ban on customers wearing hoods as a measure to prevent hold-ups.

The paper’s cartoonist hits back with a picture of a hooded shopper in the pouring rain saying “That’s all well and good … but could you ask the man upstairs for better weather first?”

Pia Beck dies at 84
Friday’s papers pay glowing tribute to jazz pianist Pia Beck who died Thursday at her home in the Spanish resort Torremolinos at the age of 84.

AD described her as “a great pianist and a well-loved jazz entertainer”. Trouw noted “the Netherlands was too small for Pia Beck and her showbiz flair” while De Telegraaf quoted jazz legend Oscar Peterson who once dubbed her “the best jazz pianist in the world”.

de Volkskrant pointed out that “The Flying Dutchess” - as she came to be known - was “one of the few Dutch jazz musicians to play the greatest American jazz clubs of the 1950s” with her characteristic brand of “light-hearted boogie-woogie”.

De Telegraaf confirmed her A-list status, recounting that none other than Billie Holiday once chucked a bottle of whisky at her during a performance. True to her sunny disposition, the Dutch diva took it as a compliment.
Trouw noted that Pia Beck gave the gay rights movement in the Netherlands an early boost in the late 1950s by announcing openly that she was lesbian and de Volkskrant recalled that she was proud to be “the first woman to take to the stage in a trouser suit”.

Paying tribute to her lust for life, De Telegraaf quoted an interview in which the pianist was asked if she’d be making another comeback after her retirement at the age of 77. “You mean when I’m 100 for example?” she laughed. “As a kind of bionic woman with robot arms…?”

The paper concluded dolefully “Alas, it was not to be…”

Nederweet’s official phobia may cost thousands of euros
de Volkskrant reported a local official's fear of heights may have cost the municipality of Nederweet in the southern province of Limburg hundreds of thousands of euros.

A civil servant responsible for the renovation of the spire atop the Lambertus church tower was so afraid of heights that he avoided going up to inspect the work in progress.

In order to keep an eye on things to some extent, the official got the contractor to take photographs of the work at the top of the tower.

By the time the authorities twigged what was going on, the renovation work had spiralled a whopping EUR 650,000 over budget.

"Imagine he made all his decisions on the basis of snapshots taken by the contractor. They could have been photos of any old church spire!" snorted a disgruntled executive councillor, forced to resign in 2008 when the budget problems first came to light.

Radio Netherlands / David Doherty / Expatica

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