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11/1 Jurists want to stay in Oudemanhuispoort

8/2 Mayor’s portrait

8/2 Websites for social cohesion

7/2 Spreading tourism proceeds with difficulty

7/2 GroenLinks on districts: Be a man

6/2 Zuideramstel opens new office on Sabbath

5/2 The truth about integration

4/2 Wilders has little support on Amsterdam

3/2 Elite involved in neighbourhood

2/2 Johnnie Walker avoids taxes in Amsterdam

1/2 Rotterdam to tinker with district councils as well

31/1 Wooden rowing boats to disappear from Amstel

31/1 ZeeburgTV launched

27/1 Privacy activists to mess up loyalty card system

27/1 A few were still coughing, but that was an act

27/1 Chrisis in de Baarsjes

26/1 Youth have positive view of districts

24/1 Action groups call for Carmel and Jaffa boycott

24/1 PvdA members dismiss plan for districts

23/1 KLM takes on crisis with new uniform

23/1 District office not squatted

21/1 Merge districts

20/1 Closing squat bar Vrankrijk not necessary

20/1 Cleaners welcome new Schiphol director

18/1 Palestine at the Jewish Historical Museum

18/1 What is the right size for a district?

17/1 PvdA Oost against fewer districts

16/1 Committee: 7 districts by 2010

15/1 Soldiers may attend Afghanistan debate after all

15/1 Bait bike leads to arrest

14/1 Youth for Christ to republish vacancies

13/1 Paintings of the Zuidas

13/1 New Youth for Christ contoversy

11/1 Social cohesion initiative raises eyebrows

10/1 Fewer districts in 2010

10/1 Zuidas: People feel that we are losers

9/1 Fun on the ice - but not for all

9/1 Supermarket coupon fraud thwarted

9/1 I Amsterdam must remain exclusive

8/1 Use term Apartheid in every discussion

8/1 No city kiosk in Amsterdam yet

7/1 Snow

7/1 Fatima Elatik to run Zeeburg

7/1 Municipal managers to return to shop floor

4/1 Police: take photo of strange people

3/1 Gaza protest criticises politicians

1/1 Thousands to protest against attacks on Gaza

1/1 Mustapha Laboui leaves district council


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Districts to be curtailed

3 September 2006 – Next Thursday, the city council will discuss a paper that proposes to increase collaboration and to abolish the districts’ veto powers regarding far-reaching decisions. Are neighbourhood residents being sidetracked?

After the decision to evacuate the Bos en Lommerplein due to construction defects, a debate emerged on whether districts are capable of carrying out such large projects. A commission headed by Margreet de Boer will report on this issue.

However, the role of the districts had been subject of debate before that. At the end of last year, the current alderman Lodewijk Asscher published his book ‘Nieuw Amsterdam’, in which he says that districts must be more involved with executive tasks. For that purpose, civil servants must move from city hall to the district offices.

At the same time, the districts’ political role must be reduced, Asscher says. “They must stop ‘playing parliament’.” In May, minister Johan Remkes published a discussion paper with plans to deal with the supposed overabundance of institutions of government. In the paper, the district councils in their current form are ‘called into question’.

The city now wants to take away some powers from the districts. The districts still have to approve that plan.

Critics find that districts stand in the way of efficient government. An example that is often mentioned regards the construction of a new railway station in the Watergraafsmeer. Railway company NS made the condition that new houses are built, to make sure that sufficient people use the station.

Neighbourhood residents were outraged that their sports fields would have to go, and managed to win the district for their case. Incidentally, the city government then sidetracked the district by calling the issue a ‘metropolitan project’.

Of course, calls for a more efficient and decisive government must always be considered critically. Ambitious administrators may want to carry out prestigious projects without too much interference from citizens.

Champions of the districts have an ally in the famous city expert Jane Jacobs. She says that most issues that city governments deal with require knowledge of what is going on at the level of street neighbourhoods.

Because the central city government does not have that knowledge, neighbourhood residents need a democratic district government that defends their interests. This requires that a district is sufficiently large and powerful to be able to fight city hall, if needed.

As a rule of thumb, Jacobs says that districts should have at least 50,000 inhabitants. Many districts in Amsterdam are currently somewhat smaller.


Inhabitants of districts, 1 January 2006











Bos en Lommer


De Baarsjes


















Source: O+S


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