Information in English
What GroenLinks (Green-Left) wants:
It’s hard to imagine a municipality in which you can develop yourself better than in Groningen. There are numerous possibilities for children, students and self-starting entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, there are also differences in our municipality, for example in health and income. Differences between neighbourhoods, between the higher and the lower educated and between those people with or without a job.
Too often people end up in a downward spiral of poverty, debts and healthcare issues. Complex and strict rules from governments and organizations often worsen the situation instead of improving it. Personal attention, custom-made policies and an independent approach by the municipality helps to give people some perspective in their own situation and in their children’s. Social innovations in welfare and the way we deal with debt in Groningen are a great start and ask for even more initiatives to address these themes.
Issues with debt lead to stress and form a great obstacle when it comes to participating in society. GroenLinks wants to offer a better outlook to people in debt. That’s why we are in favour of a generous remission policy and that’s also why we want to continue with innovative ways of debt assistance.
Nobody benefits from employing demeaning measures and control, like obligatory reciprocation for and from those who depend on welfare. This is counterproductive in the end. The project ‘Kansen in Kaart’ was started based on an initiative from GroenLinks, during this project the municipality starts a dialogue with those on welfare to create a custom-made action plan.
We want everyone to feel at home in our municipality. Background, sex or gender, sexual orientation, physical condition, age or religion shouldn’t hold you back from participating in society. This is only possible if the municipal is accessible to everyone.
An open society is not a matter of course. It’s important that our youth learns to have an open mind from a young age. For this reason, GroenLinks collaborates with several partners to create projects for schools about sexual diversity, bullying, discrimination and human rights.
Besides that, GroenLinks wants the municipality of Groningen to set a good example. Therefore there’s great diversity amongst the staff working for the municipality, there’s a sufficient number of women in leading positions, and men and women receive equal pay.
It is important that all people have access to the right information and to the literate life. That’s why GroenLinks dedicates itself to a municipality which provides accessible information, offers a straightforward service, and counteracts illiteracy.
Accessibility is important with all facilities, institutions, shops, streets and sidewalks. All of these should be accessible to anyone, also to those with a disability.
There are a lot of people who live and work in the municipality who come from abroad. We believe it’s important that these inhabitants are adequately informed by the municipality as well. The same goes for refugees who are a part of the municipality during the asylum procedure.
In Groningen we believe everyone belongs. Last year an award was created in Groningen to reward and stimulate diversity based on a proposal from GroenLinks leading candidate Glimina Chakor, the Diversity Award.
The right to safety is a human right. In Groningen, this right is threatened by irregular but high-impact earthquakes that are the result of natural gas extraction. GroenLinks wants people in Groningen to have a safe living environment, like people elsewhere in the Netherlands.
GroenLinks was one of the first political parties to understand the gravity of the earthquakes and the impact they would have on the people of Groningen. We realized that this problem could only be solved through a radical change of policy. Over the last few years, our former MP Liesbeth van Tongeren has continuously called for a reduction in gas extraction levels and a fair and equitable compensation procedure for households affected by the earthquakes.
Now our priority is ensuring that natural gas extraction is phased out completely. GroenLinks will make sure that the municipality uses all available means to make this happen. The sooner natural gas extraction in Groningen is halted, the better.
Still, a phase-out of the extraction is no immediate guarantee for a safe living environment. Therefore, GroenLinks wants to continue reinforcing people’s homes and other buildings in our municipality. Importantly, all schools in the affected areas should be made earthquake-resistant as soon as possible, in order to ensure the safety of our children.
Local government plays a key role in the reinforcement operations in Groningen, but the national government should take its responsibility as well. According to GroenLinks, the Dutch government should make sure that the compensation procedures for people affected by the earthquakes, as well as the rehabilitation and reinforcement arrangements, are fully in public hands.
In the city of Groningen, we have started phasing out natural gas use in the neighbourhoods of Selwerd and Paddepoel. In Haren the municipal council has decided to phase out gas use in the village of Glimmen, at the insistence of GroenLinks. Read more about our actions to counter the negative effects of natural gas extraction here.
Healthy and Green
GroenLinks is in favour of an agreeable and safe living environment with lots of green areas and good air quality. We can keep and improve our mobility by stimulating clean means of transportation and by implementing smart technology. By doing that we can ensure that the municipality remains an easily accessible, but also a clean, healthy and agreeable place to live and to work in. Cycling is not only the most sustainable form of transport, it is also the most healthy one. In a municipality where the distances to work and school are relatively short, stimulating cycling makes sense.
We don’t want the municipality to invest in polluting forms of transportation. We will therefore stop the funding of Eelde Airport. Instead we’ll invest in better public transport connections, such as a tram line between the main station, Zernike and Kardinge. In addition, we’ll prioritise a fast train connection to the Randstad.
We are protective of all animals in our municipality, whether they are pets, wild animals, or animals held and traded for human consumption. GroenLinks wants to link green areas with each other to come to a cohesive network of high ecological quality which cultivates a good living environment for both humans and animals.
After the financial crisis, more houses are now being built in our municipality. This is necessary for the affordability and liveability of the city, but the amount of building projects threaten the amount of green in our living environments. Due to efforts made by GroenLinks, all the green areas that have had to disappear will be restored in or near their original place.
GroenLinks is the party for sustainable energy. Global warming is the most important reason for this position. The rising sea level and long periods of heat and drought are increasingly causing more and more problems worldwide. For us as inhabitants of Groningen we have the additional problem of earthquakes which demands a quicker decrease in gas use.
More than one third of all the national cO2 emission are under the influence of municipalities in the Netherlands. That is why it’s important that there is a speedy transition to clean energy. GroenLinks wants the municipality to be CO2-neutral and gasless by 2035.
District heating, solar energy, wind power, smart electricity networks, good isolation: all these measures are needed. All of these measures can be implemented, if only they receive priority. They are not restricted to newly built houses. Energy saving measures can also be taken for existing homes. Solar panels should be placed on all suitable roofs. Moreover, we can develop a lot of solar energy parks, such as the one in Meerstad Noord. We believe that our municipality has room for a few big wind engines. We want to place them in areas where they cause the least nuisance such as industrial plots. Profits of these wind engines should be shared with the inhabitants of the municipality.
GroenLinks believes that the price for transitioning to clean energy should not be paid by lower-income constituents. Everybody should be able to participate in and profit from the energy transition. For that reason sustainability is as important for social housing as it is for private sector housing. That is why we want to advocate for a sustainability fund which will provide loans and/or subsidies for energy-saving and energy-creating measures which will pay themselves back due to lower utility bills.
For years GroenLinks has been an advocate for sustainable forms of energy. In 2035 40% of electricity in Groningen will be generated by solar panels. At that time, there will be 1,8 million solar panels in the municipality. In the last year the number of solar panels in the municipality already doubled to 230.000!
Groningen is growing. More and more people are experiencing how nice Groningen is. That is great and good for the municipality, but it also leads to higher rents and shortages on the housing market.
GroenLinks believes that everybody in Groningen should be able to live in their favourite part of the city. This can be achieved by creating a mix of social housing and owner-occupied homes. To keep homes affordable no social houses will be sold. We will also make sure that there is a better flow on the housing market by providing loans to those entering the housing market as first-time buyers. The shortages of student housing can be addressed by building more houses and by addressing issues with rogue landlords.
Houses in Groningen need to be made more sustainable. That will increase the quality of living and is better for the climate, and will lead to lower utility bills. One in five households is worried about the height of their utility bills. We will continue to support initiatives such as Groningen Woont Slim (literally Groningen Lives Cleverly) which has helped many households in Groningen to reduce their energy use.
Social houses will be renovated and private individuals can make use of loans and/or subsidies on energy-saving measures.
In the meantime, we will make sure that there are more trees and green areas in our neighbourhoods. This is beneficial for our health and for the quality of life. Do you believe that there is a place in the city where there aren’t enough trees? Let us know by planting a tree on our interactive map!
GroenLinks is a firm believer in tailor-made living solutions. This means that there should be room for new housing initiatives such as Tiny Houses. In Groningen and Ten Boer GroenLinks has helped initiate the creation of location where these tiny houses can be built.
Accessible, affordable and humane medical care
Everybody has the right to accessible, affordable and humane medical care. In the municipality we’ve noticed that there are differences in health among population groups. GroenLinks is dedicated to reducing this health inequality. We have an ambitious Healthy Ageing policy to achieve this.
We know that the municipality is facing a challenge. Since the decentralisation of government tasks in the field of health care, the municipality has more to say about health care. This offers new opportunities. GroenLinks is in favour of more prevention and less bureaucracy. We want Groningen to become the first smoke-free city of the Netherlands. We will offer assistance to people who want to kick their habits and we want to make sure that smoking is no longer visible in the public area.
We want to ask for more attention to loneliness amongst different population groups and to encourage health professionals to address this issue. Groningen has the highest suicide rate of the Netherlands. GroenLinks will therefore remain a strong supporter of suicide prevention.
The specialised neighbourhood care teams help the municipality in its awareness about issues going on in different neighbourhoods. At the same time residents can approach these teams if they require medical assistance. GroenLinks wants to further strengthen active citizenship of everybody who requires assistance or care from the municipality.
We want to prevent long periods of uncertainty for people who have make a WMO-request. We are in favour of a speedier resolution of WMO-requests. In addition, GroenLinks is in favour of getting rid of the personal contribution people have to pay for day centre activities in order to lower the threshold for participating in society.
GroenLinks is of the opinion that cares should be offered better support en therefore special attention should be given to each carer.
As an opposition party in Haren, GroenLinks has successfully managed to counter the shortages in the home care and youth care sectors. The budget cuts of Torion have been partly rescinded.
A new municipality with more democracy
On January 1 2019, the municipalities of Groningen, Haren and Ten Boer will merge and form a new municipality. According to GroenLinks, all inhabitants of the new municipality should have the opportunity to become more involved in local politics. That is why we will continue experimenting with more democratic forms of decision-making. We believe that such experiments should be tailored to the local context: some neighbourhoods may want to set up their own decision-making council, whereas others may want to launch a citizens’ initiative. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to local democracy.
GroenLinks wants our municipality to be in active contact with its citizens. Our citizens have extensive knowledge of and experience with local affairs, which can be of good use to government officials and politicians. Civil society organizations and local businesses are an invaluable source of knowledge as well. Drawing on this knowledge will improve political decision-making.
Some issues can be more adequately dealt with by citizens than by politicians. If our citizens are in a better position to solve a problem themselves, GroenLinks encourages them to do so. We will thus support initiatives for local decision-making processes. One example is the so-called “Right to Challenge” procedure, which allows people to shape and carry out service delivery in their area. This procedure has proven to be very successful in the neighbourhood of Selwerd.
GroenLinks wants local government to be open and transparent in its communication towards its citizens. Service delivery should be tailored to the needs of our villages and neighbourhoods. In some areas, a local office may be the best solution, whereas in others it may be digital service delivery.
GroenLinks greatly values citizens’ involvement and initiatives. We approach local plans with an open mind, engage in a constructive dialogue with the people involved and want our municipality to be supportive of these initiatives.
In the municipality of Ten Boer, GroenLinks successfully lobbied for the adoption of the so-called “Right to Challenge” procedure. According to this procedure, citizens have the opportunity to take over certain health services from the government, if they think they are better positioned to carry them out. More info can be found here.