Photo: Joris Herregods
On Monday evening, the Antwerp city council approved skating on the Scheldt quays and the ban on skating between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. on the Theaterplein. This measure will come into effect at the end of this month. Majority parties Vooruit and Open Vld admitted that some of them could have been better.
With this amendment to the police codex, the Antwerp city council wants to take action against the nuisance caused by skaters. The political debate revolves mainly around the ban on the Scheldt quays, where there will be a total ban. The opposition argued to postpone the skating ban there.
“First listen to the constructive proposals from skaters to better protect the street furniture”, says Yasmia Setta (Green). “Maybe a solution can be found for all outcomes.”
Mie Branders (PVDA) even prepared to wait until 2023, when the skate zone on the Scheldt quays will be ready.
CD&V Sam Voeten municipal councilor Sam Voeten municipality realizes that it is not the first time that the city council has targeted skaters.
“The settlement with local residents about the Gedempte Zuiderdokken stipulates that skating is not allowed on the redeveloped Zuiderdokken for the next forty years,” says Voeten.
Some councilors accused youth aldermen Jinnih Beels (Vooruit) of not having organized consultations and of having ignored negative advice from the urban youth council.
Antwerp ships accuse the opposition of being oversimplified and not communicating correctly about this ban.
“By communicating that ‘skating is not a crime’ you polarize this file,” says Beels. “As a city council, we ask young people to take others into account as well. Skaters have already contacted us and will therefore sit around the table with them.”
Antwerp N-VA party leader Koen Laenens proposal that there be no general skating ban in Antwerp. He adds to this the investments in the investment infrastructure.
“The problem is the lack of respect for local residents and the public domain,” says Laenens. “This ban is an impressive move.”
Open Vld tie leader Erica Caluwaerts is gripped with an uneasy feeling about a measure that starts restrictions on certain people and places.
“Nevertheless, it is logical that this city council is looking for an instrument to prevent street furniture from being further damaged,” says Caluwaerts.
Caluwaerts said he still has a second thought. They want, through consultation between skaters and local residents, a supported ban between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. on Theaterplein.
“It shows that it is important to arrive at measures with support,” says Open Vld party leader.
Vooruit party leader Hicham El Mzairh also supported the skating ban on the Scheldt quays as an instrument to prevent further damage to the street furniture.
“The fact that the furniture is being skated is of course not the fault of the skaters,” says El Mzairh. “We should have constructed those Quays with more sustainable materials. That didn’t happen, and that’s a shame. It is a pity that this measure is now in place before the new skate park of Sint-Andries is finished.”
El Mzairh therefore has an intermediate solution for this.
“The city could set up a temporary skate spot for free skaters and street skaters on or around the Scheldt quays,” says the Vooruit party leader. “This is pending the completion of the skate park near Sint-Andries.”
There will be no answer from such a temporary skate zone on Monday evening at the municipal council.