From the Ausländerbeirat…

Yesterday evening the Ausländerbeirat met in Oberursel’s town hall again and once again I went along to observe the proceedings.  I have to say, that I came away with somewhat mixed feelings.

My most positive observation of the evening was that the chairman, Franz Zenker, was more confident in the role and far more well prepared than at the previous sittings.  He demonstrated this in particular by reporting from the finance committee with his impressions of their last sitting, and was able to explain things in some detail.  He was also able to give a list of topics being discussed in their next sitting, although as I have noted previously, the committee just listens to the list without any comment or discussion.

Other members of the committee who were to report on other sub-committees of the town’s parliament were not as forthcoming with their thoughts.  One report relied heavily on the minutes of the meeting, and the other meeting was not even reported on as no-one who had been to it was present.  Looking forward to the coming sub-committee meetings, there appears to be little more taking place than reading down the agendas, so I am still missing the question “how does this apply to us”.

And once again a Bebauungsplan was on the agenda, but since both the committee members for that item were not present it was not even mentioned. (For the record: Nr.229 “Sondergebiet Gartencenter” concerns an area near “An den Drei Hasen”)

There was also no mention of the midnight sport event taking place in a few weeks, even though this falls to some extent under the remit of the Ausländerbeirat.

But moving away from the sub-committees the evening had started with the news that one of the members of the Ausländerbeirat had moved away from the town and had therefore given up their mandate.  Just as last month, the next person on the list of candidates now moves up to fill that place, even though they were 12th place out of 14 candidates with only 44 votes from 171 votes (with 4,981 eligible to vote).  With another two years to go until the next election, what happens when they run out of candidates?

Another point that started off in a positive light was when the chairman presented a report entitled “Integrationsmonitoring des Hochtaunuskreises”, which can be downloaded here and has some very interesting statistics.  However when it came to attending a seminar on the subject in Bad Homburg, none of those present were able to go for the whole time.  And the report itself was not discussed in any detail, just handed out with a couple of highlights mentioned.

Just as I was beginning to believe that the Ausländerbeirat itself does not debate much at all and I could go back to reading the minutes and agendas of the other sub-committees myself, I was given new hope when it was suggested in Any Other Business that a “Bürgerfragestunde” be introduced, just as I had suggested after my previous article.  Other committees in the town hall have this, and it is where anyone can come along in the first 30 minutes and ask a question to the committee, the rule being that you have to actually pose a question that is relevant and not just make a statement.

Now if they do go ahead with that, I hope that they also go out into the community and make the foreign residents in the town aware of it so that it gets used.  Don’t just wait for them to come – make sure they know that they can!  I would even go as far as suggesting that they hold their sittings in other locations now and again to try and get those foreign residents more involved.

The public part of the meeting ended with a short discussion about an article in the Taunus Zeitung announcing the sitting.  The article itself is short and sweet, and basically only says that the Ausländerbeirat will be meeting and mentions couple of points from the agenda.  There was some concern that it gave the impression that these were the only points on the agenda.  It was suggested that the committee should be more active in putting out information about their forthcoming sittings in order to make the reporting more accurate.

Perhaps they could start with a press release announcing the “Bürgerfragestunde”?

About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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