Making progress at the Ausländerbeirat

No one visiting the Ausländerbeirat this week was left in any doubt that things are going to be different, something the chairman Franz Zenker made very clear at the beginning of the committee’s meeting.

But his good intentions almost came to a halt when one of the other committee members asked to move the second item on the agenda (“minutes of the last meeting”) to the non-public part of the meeting, or hold the non-public part first.  Considering how long the non-public part actually took later on, it may have quicker to have just done one of those two rather than discuss the possibilities.

In the end, and after much discussion, the agenda was not changed but the approval of the non-public part of the minutes was moved to the non-public part of the meeting.

Moving on to the integration monitoring report and the ominous question of who had actually read it, the change that Franz Zenker had talked about became very clear.  Rather than deferring the discussion to the next meeting, he himself took the time to read out aloud some highlights from the report and to go through the statistics.

These included the definition of what a “migration background” is considered to be, and the fact that 14% of people living Oberursel are foreign nations, on which was commented “if we have 14% foreigners here, how come that they don’t vote for us?”.

A good question indeed, to which one of my suggestions that I made on this site back in September then came into play.  The Ausländerbeirat unanimously passed a motion requesting the town’s executive to arrange for a leaflet to be printed in the 10 most important languages for the town, announcing the presence of the committee and the help that its office can offer to new arrivals.  This should then to be given to everyone with a foreign nationality when they register at the Einwohnerbüro.

Continuing with the information from the report, eventually the figures for the voter turnout came up.  At the last election for the committee the turnout in Oberursel was only 3.43%.

This led to another of my suggestions coming up.  If the foreigners won’t come to the Ausländerbeirat meetings, then take the meetings to the foreigners.  Inspired by the fact that one of the sub-committees of the town council recently met at the Seniorentreff, I had suggested meeting somewhere like Frankfurt International School.

This was put to the committee (although without telling them where the suggestion had come from), and they unanimously voted to hold one of their meetings there in the spring, if the school agrees.

In total, almost half an hour was spend on the integration monitoring report.

Moving on to the reports from the council sub-committees, the chairman made it clear that he does not want to just hear the minutes of the meetings which he can read himself anyway.  He wants to know what do the items mean for foreigners and foreign companies in the town, and especially any motions that get voted on.  (Something I had asked myself in September.)

As was the case last month, one of the sub-committees could not be discussed, because no-one who had been to that meeting was at this one, but the other two both had a common topic: the kiosk at the station.  Very quickly it was observed that this had a particular impact on both bus and taxi drivers, a large proportion of which are foreign nationals.

Unfortunately the issue came a bit late, because the fate of the kiosk had been sealed four days earlier by the town council, pretty much highlighting the problem of what happens when you only talk about the meetings afterwards.

In my opinion, they need to go through the agendas for the coming meetings more thoroughly to prepare those attending better, but also those who go to the sub-committee meetings need to be prepared to react to items coming up in citizens’ question time at the beginning of the meeting, because by the time the Ausländerbeirat meets again it may be too late.

The same may happen with the next round of meetings, because by the time it came to talk about them the person responsible for going to the planning committee had left, leaving the item on the agenda regarding a revision of the parking space by-law (Satzung über Stellplätze für Pkw sowie Fahrradstellplätze) to just be glanced over, something I queried when it came to the newly introduced question time for guests at the end of the meeting.

Except that I do not feel that I really got a proper answer to it.  People were talking amongst themselves, perhaps eager to finish the meeting which by now had been going on for over 90 minutes.

But still, it was definitely a big improvement over anything I had been witness to previously!

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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