From the Ausländerbeirat: the old chairman stays, the new refugees are coming

The inaugural meeting of the new Ausländerbeirat last Friday was no normal meeting, especially with the number of guests who were present.  Many of the town’s councillors and members of the administration had come along to observe the meeting, so that almost all of the political parties from the council were represented.  Even the press seats where unusually well occupied.

As previously reported, the election at the end of last November gave voters a choice of two lists of candidates.  The “Internationale Liste Oberursel” (ILO) led by Dr. Franz Zenker won 5 seats, whilst “Alle Zusammen Oberursel” (AZO) led by Natalia Bind won 4.  Both had said after the election that they would be standing for election as the new chairperson.

As it turned 6pm it did not so good for Dr. Zenker’s majority, as two of his members were still missing, and it was impossible to miss Natalia Bind grinning like a cheshire cat on the other side of the table.  “It’s 6 O’Clock” she said cheerfully.  “We can start, we have a quorum”, she continued.  Dr. Zenker wanted to wait, but gave in in the end and opened the meeting.  He passed over the chair temporarily to Chantal le Nestour (ILO), who as longest-serving member of the committee was to run the meeting until the vote had taken place.

There were no objections to the minutes of the last meeting in November, not something you experience that often at the Ausländerbeirat.

The meeting would have probably progressed swiftly to the chairperson’s election, if it hadn’t been for the messages from the town’s executive.  As a result of a question from one of the visitors, as to whether report on the refugee situation due to be presented a few days later at the social and culture sub-committee would also be presented to the Ausländerbeirat, Mayor Hans-Georg Brum (SPD) brought the report forward and gave it orally.  More on that later.

When he was finished with that report, he turned to the subject of the Ausländerbeirat itself.  The turnout showed, that the public acceptance of the committee is low, he said.  But the Ausländerbeirat was not “more important than ever” and had to co-operate well in future.

The right to speak at other sub-committees and to put motions to the town council was important, but in the past the Ausländerbeirat has been seen in a negative light due to personal differences between the members, which, he commented, have not even been for political reasons.

He offered the Ausländerbeirat a induction workshop on the topics that concern them and on how the town’s committees work.  He also said that specialists form the town hall could come to the meetings to explain things, if the committee said that they needed this.  The tasks ahead were important.  “When 1,000 new people come, it is important that the Ausländerbeirat is responsible” he concluded.

By the time he was finished, the missing ILO members had arrived and the vote could take place with all 9 members present.  The vote was to be run by the Ausländerbeirats representative in the town hall, Thomas Eifert.  He was assisted by one person from each list.

It was then that the surprise of the evening took place: Natalia Bind did not put herself forward for election.  Instead Dr. Franz Zenker (ILO) and Rino Folisi (AZO) were put forward as candidates for the chair.  Although Frau Bind was entirely quiet and announced that the person next to her, Giannoula Kalargali (AZO), wanted to say something.   etwas sagen wollte. Frau Kalargali commented that she thought is was good, that someone new was standing for election.

Whilst the voting papers were being printed, the candidates presented themselves to the audience.  In the end the result was probably less surprising than the AZO candidate: 5 votes for Dr. Zenker, 4 for Herr Folisi.  Dr.Zenker accepted his election and took over the reigns of the meeting again.

Other votes were taken for the deputy chair positions, these were won by: Homayun Wafa (ILO), Rino Folisi (AZO), Chantal Le Nestour (ILO) and Puya Nasseri (ILO).

Representing the new Ausländerbeirat in the social and culture sub-committee will be Puja Nasserie (ILO), and in his absence Natalia Bind (AZO).  In the planning and environmental sub-committee it is Chantal le Nestour (ILO), again deputised by Natalia Bind (AZO).  The finance sub-committee will remain with Dr. Franz Zenker (ILO), who, once again, is being deputised by Natalia Bind (AZO).

The committee suggested Puja Nasseri (ILO) for the traffic commission, Natalia Bind (AZO) was suggested as the contact if he is unable to attend.

The Ausländerbeirat also nominates contacts for the different suburbs of the town.  Since they live there themselves, Fatemeh Nasseri (AZO) took on the role, with her deputy being her son Puja Nasseri (ILO).  Natalia Bind (AZO) is the contact for Stierstadt und Weißkirchen.  But no-one wanted to take on the role for Bommersheim.

Members of the Ausländerbeirat in January 2016: Natalia Bind (AZO), Meral Köktas (AZO), Rino Folisi (AZO), Fatemeh Nasseri (ILO), Chantal Le Nestour (ILO), Giannoula Kalargali (AZO), Dr. Franz Zenker (ILO), Puya Nasseri (ILO), Homayun Wafa (ILO)

Members of the Ausländerbeirat in January 2016: Natalia Bind (AZO), Meral Köktas (AZO), Rino Folisi (AZO), Fatemeh Nasseri (ILO), Chantal Le Nestour (ILO), Giannoula Kalargali (AZO), Dr. Franz Zenker (ILO), Puya Nasseri (ILO), Homayun Wafa (ILO)

If it was up to Dr. Zenker, the meeting would have finished here.  But Natalia Bind insisted that the other items on the agenda were dealt with.  Meaning: reports from other sub-committees.  There was not really much preparation for the forthcoming meetings due to take place the following week.

Finally it was time for questions to be put to the administration, these are passed on and the answers given in later meetings.  Chantal Le Nestour (ILO) asked if, in the light of recent press reports, the administration had been aware the the people running the asylum seekers’ home in the town had been a Stasi commander [sic].  Natalia Bind (AZO) asked about parking spaces at the town hall for the new members during the meetings.

The refugee situation

In his report, Mayor Hans-Georg Brum said that there were between 750 and 900 refugees currently in the town, a large number of which are currently in the emergency accommodation at the Erich-Kästner School.  Most of these have now been registered and are waiting to be given places in asylum seekers’ homes.  The Oberursel home in the Drei Hasen area and the old primary school in Stierstadt together house just over 300 people.

He said that the numbers had not changed much in the past six weeks, but that growth in the numbers were now expected and more capacity was needed.  The town expects to receive 1.000 people for long-term places whilst their application is dealt with.  This means that two or three medium sized accommodation blocks will have to be found.

One new building at the Drei Hasen is already being built and another should follow in the summer, next to the current containers.  Other objects he mentioned where discussions were taking place are the Lorsbachstraße house number 2 and the nuns’ accommodation at the Maasgrund.

Over 500 people are working with the refugees in Oberursel at present, many of the voluntarily, something he called “remarkable”.  He also told the Ausländerbeirat that the refugee situation was an important topic for them – a Kardinalsthema – and that they should be represented at the co-ordination meetings.

Anyone who would like to ask a question to the Ausländerbeirat can do so at the next meeting on Monday, 8th February, 2016, at the town hall: Rosenmontag.

This article appeared in two parts in the Oberurseler Woche on Thursday, 14th January, 2016.



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 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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