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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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Higher parking fees: timing essential

7 October 2007 - The city administration wants to fight air pollution by raising parking fees, but PvdA council members are hesitant. However, such a controversial measure need not be political suicide, providing the timing is right, foreign experiences show.

Various cities have successfully used the price mechanism to fight traffic congestion and air pollution and to pay for better public transport. The most well-known example is London, where Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced a £5 a day congestion charge for cars entering the centre (the charge has been raised to £8 since).

Initially, many protested against the plans. However, after a few months the positive effects could be felt, such as less congestion, lower carbon dioxide emissions and more buses riding on time. Further, fears for economic damage or problems at the ring road proved unfounded. All in all, Livingstone had no problem getting re-elected little more than a year after the introduction of the charge.

In 2005, Edinburgh held a referendum on introducing a comparable charge, with 75% voting against. According to local bicycle activists, the decision to have a referendum was inspired by ‘political cowardice’ on the part of the Scottish government, which was under pressure from newspapers, motoring lobby groups and opposition parties.

In Stockholm, the charge was introduced without consulting the population. Only when its effects could be felt, a referendum was organised on its continuation. A slight majority voted in favour of the scheme.

Alderman Tjeerd Herrema wants to raise parking fees to 3.80 euro per hour, but is meeting some resistance. There have been protests from the ‘usual suspects’: shop owners, the Chamber of Commerce and the VVD. Subsequently, Herrema’s fellow PvdA members in the city council have also distanced themselves from his plans.

It is a fact of political life that minorities who fear they will be hurt by measures will generally make more noise than the majority who will benefit. Still, Herrema cannot of course just ignore these protests. He might follow the example of Livingstone, who changed some details of his plans to accommodate critics.

Another lesson from abroad is the importance of timing. The cost of higher fees is felt immediately, whereas its advantages will only be noticed after a couple of months. GroenLinks has already warned that the plans should not be debated for another year. If Herrema introduces the higher fees on 1 January 2009, as planned, he will be able to benefit from their positive impact at the 2010 elections.

Dirk Kloosterboer

A shortened version of this article has appeared in het Parool. Photo: parking in Östermalm, Stockholm


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