‘Inadequate’ Schiphol disaster authority retained
18 January 2005
AMSTERDAM — No decision was taken on Monday night to grant one city council full authority over emergency services at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, despite the fact that it was agreed the current situation was not ideal.
Instead, it was resolved that despite the fact that procedures to combat disasters at Schiphol are not perfect, there was no dire need at present to change the existing regulations and re-divide responsibilities.
The decision was made at a meeting between Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner, Interior Minister Johan Remkes, Haarlemmermeer Mayor Fons Hertog, Haarlem Mayor Jaap Pop and Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen.
But Cohen reacted with great disappointment to the decision. He had demanded that existing regulations be changed immediately, news agency ANP reported. Cohen pointed to the current terror threat to underpin his demand for urgency.
Currently, Haarlemmermeer shares responsibility for both the police and the military police at Schiphol with Haarlem, which oversees the district’s police department. Amsterdam is in charge of the fire brigade and ambulance services at the airport.
But criticism has long been directed at the lack of clarity over the various responsibilities at Schiphol, which is situated in the Haarlemmermeer municipality. The three involved mayors and the Queen’s Commissioner for the province of North Holland, Harry Borghouts, raised their concerns in a letter addressed to Minister Remkes last year.
But Remkes said on Monday night that an investigation will be conducted into the possibilities of bringing the authority of the emergency services at Schiphol under one region. The inquiry must be completed by the summer.
The minister said the consequences to the involved services, the public prosecutor and the judiciary must also be assessed. Remkes is also keen to investigate the financial consequences of the re-division.
But before any changes can be made, the current evaluation of the police sector must also be finalised. The subsequent report will then be used in deciding which region will retain authority over Schiphol’s emergency services.
According to news service NOS, Remkes is in favour of Amsterdam gaining full authority over Schiphol, but he remains open to other alternatives.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news