From the Ausländerbeirat…

When the Ausländerbeirat met on Monday (4th March, 2013), they may not have been prepared for the number of guests who turned up to put their questions to them. It may not sound that many, but those 6 (six) broke the record for past half year.

One of the reasons for this was a group from the Ahmadiyya community to ask for the committee’s support for their plans for a mosque in Oberursel. Currently the community have prayer rooms in the Dornbachstraße which they say are now at full capacity for their services with many of those who worship representing the 4th generation of families that have moved to Germany in the past.

If possible they would like to build a mosque in the town, rather than convert an existing building, and added that they were looking for support and not for funding. Franz Zenker, chairing the meeting, promised that the committee would support them and pass on their request to the town’s executive.

Another request was for single-sex swimming courses in the swimming pool. Although Gabriela Wölki, the town’s equality officer, said that she would look into this, it was also pointed out that this had been offered in the past and dropped due to lack of demand. It was also felt that this was not a priority at present, since the town does not currently have an operational pool.

The evening had started, however, with the Mayor Hans-Georg Brum paying tribute to the committees representative within the town’s administration, Peter Gröbler, who is retiring. As someone who has been involved in the committee since its inauguration, he had offered support to countless foreigners who have moved to the town and represented them in the town’s sub-committees.

His position within the administration, which was part of the culture department, will be moved to the social department and is yet to be filled. The committee is insistent that a replacement needs to be found as soon as possible.

A further question to the committee concerned the “Kindertagesstätte Neuhausstraße”. There are plans to build houses on the land between Camp King and the B455 bypass, an area previously leased to the riding school (Siedlungslehrhof). Now it seems, there are also plans for a new Kindergarten there as well, and the item was on the agenda for discussion.

However, not only was the item not discussed, despite concerning an area of the town where many foreigners live, it was explained that the Kindergarten wanted to EXPAND by another 4 groups and despite an explanation that there currently is no Kindergarten there to expand, this was simply repeated and then brushed under the carpet by another member of the committee as it was not considered a subject for the Ausländerbeirat.

The Neuhausstraße, by the way, is a side road of “Im Rosengärtchen” and is a no-through-road. Even the housing project has led to discussions about the increase in traffic. Adding a Kindergarten into the project would probably increase this traffic even more.

When the item came up on the agenda, it was a member of the OBG that explained that a new building and Kindergarten were planned on the greenfield site. But even then, no-one on the committee appeared to feel the need to either correct the previous mistake or discuss the matter further.

So once again, building plans that someone in the town’s administration felt should be passed to the Ausländerbeirat for consideration have been ignored, despite being in an area with a high proportion of foreigners. Even worse, the explanation of the item was wrong, the correction from someone with information ignored, and the a guest from the area with a foreign background (yes, it was me!) referred to a different sub-committee.

Slightly more attention was given to the traffic lights at the corner of the Frankfurter Landstraße and Kurmainzer Straße.

And finally the subject of the brochure for new residents was addressed. It was felt that a foreign-language edition should be produced, at least with part of the publication being translated. However, the question was raised into which languages it should be translated and how much of the brochure that would be.

Perhaps it would have been sufficient to add two pages per language along the lines of “Welcome to Oberursel” and then cover a broad spectrum of languages. Maybe for now that can be produced as a separate booklet and issued as an insert.

It was probably the most productive meeting of the Ausländerbeirat that I have attended in the past half year, which in part was due to the large number of guests.

But if the committee wants to achieve something – and chairman Franz Zenker would like them to have better representation and even voting rights on other sub-committees – then they need to get their facts right about the items on their agenda and either deal with them, or take them off altogether. Maybe they need a “what are we here for” workshop, before things get built that they would like to have had a say in, but get passed them because no-one new what it was all about.

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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