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Entire SP ZuiderAmstel may step down

18 January 2007 - The Amsterdam Socialist Party (SP) wants two district council members in ZuiderAmstel to step down. An internal commission found that Gerrit Herders and Anja Veenstra abused their position to promote their own interests. The other two SP ZuiderAmstel council members may be asked to step down as well.

Acting on behalf of the SP, Herders would repeatedly have insisted that district civil servants ‘evacuate’ an attic that Veenstra felt entitled to. The commission finds that both Herders and Veenstra must step down for this reason.

In addition, the commission finds that it must be investigated whether the rest of the ZuiderAmstel SP agreed with Herders’ actions. If so, the other two council members should be asked to step down as well, according to the commission.

“That is a very interesting recommendation”, responds the chairman of the Amsterdam SP, Laurens Ivens. He points out that the other council members at least were involved less directly than Herders and Veenstra. Ivens says that it is ‘conceivable’ that the other two council members will be asked to step down, but that this is not certain yet. In any case, he wants to discuss the matter with the council members as soon as possible.

In the media, it has further been suggested that both Herders and Veenstra sublet their homes, charging an excessive rent. In the case of Veenstra, this is exaggerated, the commission finds. It criticizes the Volkskrant, for failing to include ‘mitigating circumstances’ in an article on the issue.

Herders refuses to publicly disclose the rent he charged. The commission finds that, as a chosen representative, he should do so. By his secrecy, he “draws the suspicion upon himself that it was an excessively high rent (and for the SP, an excessively high rent is an important issue)”.

Herders and Veenstra have issued a press release in which they say that they disagree with the report and that they will appeal against it. In a response, Ivens says that there is no such procedure. They can ask the members for a decision on the issue in a general meeting, which will probably take place next March.

UPDATE 26 January 2007 - The SP has announced that all four SP ZuiderAmstel council members can no longer represent the SP. The party will discuss the matter next Monday.


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