Prince Benjamin I. at the town council

Last week Prince Benjamin I. used his time in charge of the town hall to pay the town council a visit and address the councillors at the start of their meeting.

He commented on the fact that, due to cuts, they only have water to drink during the meetings and this stopped them being a merry bunch.  He also suggested charging an entrance fee to the meetings to help raise funds.

Prince Benjamin I. addressing the town council

In the council chamber: Chairman Dr. Christoph Müllerleile (left) with Prince Benjamin I, accompanied by his Lord Steward Harald Pratt and pages Nathalie and Nadine.

Toys, Taxes and Torture at the Town Council

The town council meeting on Thursday, 21st November, 2013, was always going to be centred around the budget for the forthcoming year.  But with the debate lasting over two hours, each of the parties was determined to have their say.

It was Councillor Markus Bürgel who kicked off the debate for the CDU, noting that Oberursel had reached the point where savings could no longer be made without the effects being visible.  He was critical of the national government in Berlin for taking decisions that the local level then has to pay for, without providing any means of financing them, although he was quick to point out that in the last 15 years almost all national parties had taken part in those decisions.

He commented that savings on services that fall in the “social” area where difficult to make, but that if there was no other option the voluntary services in this area would fall foul of the spending cuts.  He called these services the “head of the social department’s toys” (Spielzeuge des Sozialdezernenten)! [Read more…]

From the town council… dog tax, library fees, changing rooms and icebergs

This week saw the town council in Oberursel sit for the last time in 2012.

With major topics such as the new swimming pool, the budget, childcare costs, and even the station kiosk dealt with previously, this could have been a sitting to tidy up loose ends, and in many ways it was.  Except that all of those topics managed to come up again, the latter without even being remotely on the agenda.

At the beginning, the question and answer session revealed that although dogs are required to wear a dog tag to show that the tax for them has been paid, this is not checked unless there is a problem with dogs fouling a particular area.

We learnt of the confusion over the annual cycle races on 1st May, one of which the town is listed as a sponsor for, although the money comes from other sponsors that the town finds.  Sub-sponsors if you like.  It does not come out of the town budget. [Read more…]

Making savings… and talking about it

Two days after the Oberursel’s finance committee voted on the 53 proposals to amend the town’s budget for 2013, the town council sat to actually vote on the budget, with those amendments in place.

Despite the fact that all the points had been discussed individually at the finance committee, the parties took it in turn to make a speech and put forward their view on the budget and the current situation in terms of the town’s finances.

In some cases they went through those amendments – even those that had been turned town – point for point, sometimes with even their own party members showing a distinct lack of interest.

However it was also a chance to criticise the other parties on the council, especially as some had apparently missed a deadline to submit proposals for savings leading to suggestions that maybe they had been waiting to see what the others came up with, something that was strongly denied.

Here are some quotes from those speeches: [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Who says that we can’t afford a swimming pool?

The Bürgerversammlung about the new swimming pool last week appears to have a lasting effect on many in Oberursel, because in the space of just a few days the political landscape in the town has changed dramatically.

Let me try and explain the past few years in simple terms first:

1. The indoor pool in the town was closed because the roof was deemed unstable.

2. The coalition of CDU and FDP wanted to sell of a sports field (Altkönigsportplatz) and the swimming pool car park to finance a new building, and an architect came up with a design to include a sauna and modernise the outside pool at the same time.

3. At the town parliament elections last year, the SPD, Green party and OBG were all behind the swimming pool, but did not want to sell of the sports field, and although the CDU remained the largest party in the parliament, the SPD/Green/OBG coalition gained a majority.

4. SPD/Green/OBG drew up a coalition agreement that they would build a new swimming pool, but would borrow at most only 20% of the capital needed to do so and would not sell of the sports field.

5. It was then decided just to build a new indoor pool and leave space for a sauna, moving work on the outdoor pool to a later date.

6. Planning permission was given, changes to Bebauungspläne were approved, and companies started giving quotes on the cost of actually building it.

7. A few weeks ago they even held a press conference to announce that building work would be starting soon.

You could say that everything was going swimmingly, until the town’s treasurer explained why the town could not afford to build it. [Read more…]

Can Oberursel afford to build a new swimming pool?

The indoor swimming pool in Oberursel has now been closed for four years and is now probably one of the most discussed topics amongst the people and in particular the politicians in the town.

Last week it was on the agenda of the planning and environmental committee at the town hall, this week there is a Bürgerversammlung to update everyone on the current state of the planning and to allow people to put forward their views.  Next week the town council is due to vote on the project.  And various Bebauungspläne have been amended to allow for land to be sold off and built on to finance it all.

But it is the financial situation that remains the biggest question of all: can the town afford it? [Read more…]

From the town council: Childcare costs and other news

Protests on the Rathausplatz before the town council meeting

Protests on the Rathausplatz

The town council (Stadtverordnetenversammlung) this week started an hour earlier than usual to the sound of protests outside the Rathaus from local parents and the party “Die Linke” in connection with the rise in childcare costs in the town.

It was this increase in costs that had been discussed at such length at the previous sitting of the council and the proposals on the table this week were pretty much the ones that had been presented to parents mid-June.

And despite the fact that a sub-committee had already debated the latest proposals and even the parents that had were present at that meeting had had a chance to put their point of view, a further debate ensued in the council meeting with each party putting forward their arguments – again. [Read more…]

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