An English debate, focusing on the issues related closely to the internationals in the city, took place Thursday evening in the Eindhoven municipality hall. This was the first ever official debate in English preceding the local elections.
Representatives from six parties participated in this debate. Present were VVD (Ed Winters), CDA (Miriam Frosi), D66 (Tom Brouwers), VOLT (Ankie van der Sar), PvdA (Tjeerd Ritmeester) and GroenLinks (Eva de Bruijn). Wilma Richter (Ouderen Appèl) and Jonas Roothans (Partij voor de Dieren) also briefly informed the audience about their parties.
Moderated by the Editor-in-Chief Beena Arunraj from Eindhoven News, the debate focussed on issues ranging from housing to integration, from issues concerning the international students to local needs in education. All six participants spoke about their plans and commitments to tackle these issues.
All the parties present agreed that building more houses is the answer to the acute housing shortage. Ed Winters, VVD puts emphasis on building more houses, but he also talked about making it easier for the developers, by shortening the processes and permit time. Ankie van den Sar of VOLT adds that besides building, they would also focus on finding new, effective purposes for the existing buildings.
Integration and Dutch Language
The parties present in the debate agreed that they want to contribute to making a cohesive society. Eva de Bruijn from GroenLinks believes that initiatives and projects where people from different cultures can meet each other and providing language volunteers can truly be effective in making internationals feel at home. These projects should also be more supported and facilitated by the municipality, in her opinion. Miriam Frosi CDA believes while it is very important to learn the Dutch language to participate in society, it is also equally important to bring the various cultures together, by hosting socio-cultural events that connect and binds us.
Safe and Healthy city
While the parties present agreed that a safe and clean city is every citizens’ right, each has its own way of ensuring that for the residents. Tjeerd Ritmeester from PvdA feels that safety in the city can come by empowering the neighbourhoods, helping people to feel connected to others, and improving civic participation in the society so that the signals are better heard. Tom Brouwers of D66 is of the view that access to a bike should be affordable to everyone in the city, it is a is part of their proposal together with GroenLinks and PvdA. They would also like to invest in more bike lanes and frequent public transport.
The debate also touched upon the issue of whether English may be used as a language to fulfill the informational needs of the international citizens. The parties seemed divided on the topic, as some wished to have Dutch as the core language used in the municipality, but all participants agreed that wherever the need arose, English support should be made available to the newcomers.
The session opened with Jean-Paul Close speaking about the local elections and their importance in general. The debate was ably moderated by Beena Arunraj who was assisted by Remco van der Weel from Eindhoven News. The session was telecast by Radio4Brainport, the expat radio station in the Brainport region.
This was the first time that such an English debate was organised in the Eindhoven Municipality, keeping the needs of the internationals in mind. The audience appreciated the initiative very much as it gave them a much-needed podium to talk about relevant issues.
Here you can find all the video recordings in different parts per topic on the Eindhoven News YouTube channel.