Are refugees a topic for the Ausländerbeirat or not?

The first meeting of Oberursel’s Ausländerbeirat after their inaugural meeting started off less spectacularly than the previous one had.  Held on Monday, 8th February, 2016, it was a 18:03 that Dr. Franz Zenker (ILO) asked “shall we start?”, with only 5 of the 9 members present.  “You’re the chairman” came the reply from Natalia Bind (AZO), who only a month before had appeared to be more eager to get things going.

At the time, there were several hundred refugees still camped out in one of the school halls, so it was a topic likely to be discussed.  Indeed, it was even on the Agenda.  Twice.  Four weeks previously the mayor, Hans-Georg Brum, had made it a key topic for the committee.

So when a question was posed about why there had been no mention in that previous meeting of a local building being set up to take 200 asylum seekers, less than 24 hours before the fire brigade carried the beds in, the reply was that the town itself was only informed by the local government (Kreis) at a very late stage.  Thomas Eifert, the committee’s contact in the town hall, commented that “the communication is really bad”. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Only 3% went to vote

Sunday, 29th November, 2015 saw the chance for the foreign residents in Oberursel to vote: for a new Ausländerbeirat.  The committee, which is supposed to represent the interests of the foreigners in the town.  Committee members not only have the right to speak at town council sub-committee meetings, for the past year they have also been able to table motions directly to the council itself.

At the last election five years ago the turnout had only been 3.43%, so one of the targets for this election had been to get more voters to the ballot box.  In terms of voters they managed it, but only just: 188 instead of 171 went to the town hall to cast their vote.  But due to the increased number of foreigners in the town, the turnout as a percentage sank to a record low of 3.08%. [Read more…]

Calling all foreigners in Oberursel…

This year sees a rather unusual election take place.  Apart from electing a new Mayor on 21st June, 2015, Oberursel will also be holding elections for all 9 seats on the Ausländerbeirat – the foreigners’ advisory council.

The election itself will take place on Sunday, 29th November, 2015 and for the first time it will be possible to apply for a postal vote.  But for now, the town are looking for candidates and are holding an information evening for anyone interested on Wednesday, 6th May at 6pm in the town hall. [Read more…]

From the Ausländerbeirat: The Last and the Longest

The last meeting of the Ausländerbeirat in 2013 was also the longest this year, lasting a staggering 2½ hours.

One of the reasons was no doubt the visit by members of Amnesty International to talk about the developments in the case of the Yang Family, which have been reported on in detail in a separate article.

But financial discussions also led to a heated and prolonged debate. [Read more…]

What did the Ausländerbeirat learn at FIS?

For all of the articles on this website that have criticised the work of the Ausländerbeirat in the past year, none caused such a stir as the one that appeared in the Taunus Zeitung after the last meeting at Frankfurt International School.

To be fair to the members of the Ausländerbeirat, the article makes no mention of the questions from teachers and parents that were answered, no mention of the tour of the school, and in fact does not even mention that the meeting even took place there.  All it does it criticise the formal part of the meeting for many of the things that I have written about in the past.

It was one of the first things to be discussed when the committee met this week, and one of the lessons learnt was that they should work more closely with the town hall press office, rather than doing their own thing.

Generally, though, the members of the committee found the outing to FIS a positive experience and plan to hold a meeting there in future at least once a year. [Read more…]

When the Ausländerbeirat visited the FIS…

It was a meeting of the Ausländerbeirat like no other that I have visited until now.  Not only where all the members of the foreigners’ sub-committee present for the entirety of the meeting, but 16 guests turned up as well.

Admittedly those 16 included the press and members of the town council, with all of the parliamentary groups except the CDU represented, but at least half were simply members of the public who had come along to see the committee in action and to pose their questions.

The reason for such interest in a committee whose guests don’t normally make it into double figures was very likely due to the meeting place: Frankfurt International School. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

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. [Read more…]

Question Time at the Ausländerbeirat

The Ausländerbeirat meets in Monday, 26th November, 2012 at 6pm in room E02 at the town hall (Rathaus).

For this sitting a new item has been added to the agenda: “Bürgerinnen und Bürger fragen den Ausländerbeirat” – which roughly translates as citizens’ question time.

As the sitting is open to the public, anyone can come along and put questions to the Ausländerbeirat.

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