The municipality of Borsbeek is in consultation with the city of Antwerp about a possible merger. With a statement by mayor Dis Van Berckelaer on a pamphlet distributed in Borsbeek. The pamphlet accuses the municipal council of wanting to turn the municipality into a district. “But our village is not for sale, as it says,” says Van Berckelaer. “We will never allow that.”
Jan Stassijns, Saar Van OlmenSource: Quad
“Actually you could compare it to the search for a love, but we don’t know what that will look like”. That is what Dis Van Berckelaer, mayor of Borsbeek, says. Everyone Borsbeek’s municipal council and N-VA are in talks with four neighboring municipalities with a view to a possible merger. These are Wommelgem, Mortsel, Boechout and now also the city of Antwerp.
Van Berckelaer does say that these are exploratory talks, although he argues the importance of a merger. “And that’s not new,” says the mayor. “I have been saying since 2013 that we are too small to continue alone. Financially it will be very difficult for a municipality like ours. That is why I also proposed a merger with all municipalities in the Minos police zone two years ago. There was little enthusiasm for that, but we have to think big enough.”
That there have now been talks with the city of Antwerp has arisen. Borsbeek’s administrative agreement literally states that a merger with the city is out of the question. “But we are now in a different reality due to the corona pandemic,” says Van Berckelaer.
“It has become even more difficult financially. The tasks are empty and the state coffers carry out tasks to the local authorities. Only, the money is not coming. That is why we have to keep all options open.”
Not for sale’
The discussion about a possible merger rears its head again after a pamphlet that has been circulating in the municipality for several days. The title leaves little to the imagination: ‘For sale: village next to the city.’ “But that is of course not the case,” says Van Berckelaer. “We are not going to put ourselves up for sale. I am too proud as a Borsbekenaar. We will not allow that under any circumstances.”
“We are testing our options. And as soon as we can take the next step, the Borsbekenaar will also be involved in this. That goes without saying, but for the time being concrete steps have been taken and that may not be different tomorrow.”
City of Antwerp defeated
Johan Vermant, spokesperson for Bart De Wever (N-VA), mayor of Antwerp, who have had talks with Borsbeek. “We have always said that as a city we are open to conversations,” says Vermant. “There is a lot of contact, with various peripheral municipalities, about a range of subjects. No more looking for that.”