Last bid attempt to save the station kiosk fails

Following an appeal by local bus drivers and engaged members of the public, including discussions on Facebook, a member of the town council representing the party “Die Linke” put forward an urgent motion to extend the lease on the kiosk at the station at the council meeting last Thursday (22nd November, 2012).

The motion received the two-thirds majority that it required to be accepted onto the agenda, with all councillors voting in favour of its addition with the exception of one councillor from the CDU party who voted against it.

But with the town’s budget to be debated first, it was not until three hours later that the councillors actually got round to discussing the motion itself.

The kiosk between the U-Bahn station and the bus stop

The kiosk between the U-Bahn station and the bus stop

Ingmar Schlegel of “Die Linke” argued that many in the town appreciated being able to buy cheap coffee at the kiosk and the help the staff there provide when buying tickets, especially the town’s disabled population.  He also found it made sense to have free public toilets near the station.

However Dr. Eggert Winter of the SPD party, who also chairs the town’s planning committee, said that the new planning concept at the station had been carried by a unanimous vote, and that the new concept did not include a kiosk at the current location.  “It was clear to all of us, that there should not be a kiosk there” he commented.  As the station was not finished in time for the Hessentag, the town had had an interest in having the container there with the services that it offered, but he stressed that the contract had only ever been for a period of two years and would end on 14th December this year.

He also claimed that the town was subsidising the business because the container cost €980 per month, but only received €540 per month in rent (plus utilities), and was also responsible for cleaning the toilets.

Unfortunately none of the other parties at this point took a moment to explain the other view, that the kiosk only pays rent for their part of the container, although Ingmar Schlegel did suggest that if the motion was carried then the level of rent could be changed.

Speaking for the group OBG, Robert Rethfeld said “the public would welcome it, if the kiosk were to stay”, and that the town had an interest in having a kiosk that was independent of the railway operator.  He highlighted that not everyone passes the station in the morning (where this is a DB service store), passengers changing between the U-Bahn and buses being a prime example of this.

Christina Herr from the Green party welcomed the fact that the public were getting involved, but said that he party would still be voting against the motion, because it had always been clear that the kiosk would be closed and was never a question of “if” it would stay open.  She said that the kiosk caused problems at its current location, because people parked their cars there to buy coffee.

The statements from the CDU were kept short and to the point.  Their chairman Jens Uhlig said quite simply that they would vote with the SPD and Green party against the kiosk, with councillor Councillor Charmaine Weisenbach re-iterating that “contracts are to be kept to” and that if things continue in this way (referring to the continued discussion despite long-standing contracts and council decisions) the town would not have legal certainty.

Between those statements it was Rainer Voß of the FDP who pointed out that the town would have a problem if they closed the kiosk as planned and then decided to open a new one in six months time.  He felt it was important that the bus drivers had someone to go to the toilet that was not as far away as the station building, and said that if there was a problem with people parking at the bus stop, then something should be done about that instead.

In the vote that followed, Die Linke, OBG and FDP voted in favour of keeping the kiosk (10 votes), the CDU, SPD and most of the Green party voted against it (33 votes).  Two members of the Green party abstained.

And so it is that the kiosk is set to close on Friday, 14th December 2012, ending a tradition going back 100 years of having a kiosk at the tram station.

See also: Opinion – how not to save the kiosk.

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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