Geraardsbergen. ‘The current energy crisis, rising inflation and the far-reaching social, economic and financial consequences for the entire Geraardsberg population require a decisive, coherent and future-proof plan of approach’, argues Luc Swartebroeckx. Resilient Geraardsbergen wants to go for ‘a continuous and decisive activation policy’ and ‘a voluntarist housing policy’. In addition, city services must be professionalized, the budget optimized and expenditures drastically restructured.
‘Weerbaar Geraardsbergen’s vision in this regard is clear,’ adds the chairman of Weerbaar Geraardsbergen, ‘Prosperity and well-being must be guaranteed in a sustainable way, not only during but also after these times of crisis. The necessary financial resources for this should be made available through a drastic return to the core tasks of local government, in particular ensuring the safety and protection of the population and the general interest of society. Nothing less and certainly nothing more.’
Voluntary housing policy
In the policy plan of Weerbaar Geraardsbergen, prosperity and well-being are based on two essential pillars: working and living. ‘Employment should be stimulated by pursuing a continuous and decisive activation policy, whereby the local government in the field should act as an active service provider between employers and job seekers; So not merely as a passive conduit for the VDAB or other job websites.’
There is also a need for a voluntarist housing policy, according to Weerbaar Geraardsbergen. ‘A massive effort should be made to embellish the living comfort and energy efficiency of existing homes, in order to make the housing market in Geraardsbergen attractive again for people with purchasing power: active dual earners who can allow the local catering industry, trade and economy to flourish again and put the city back on the map.’
budgetary optimization and extensive remediation
According to Luc Swartebroeckx, this systematic upgrading of the existing homes should not only counteract the current dilapidation and prevailing marginality, but also safeguard the authenticity of the urban landscape against further concrete and high-rise buildings. ‘First tackling the existing and only then compacting it is the message’, says Weerbaar Geraardsbergen.
‘Professionalization of the city services, budgetary optimization and far-reaching reorganization of expenditure, especially in the area of subsidies, must all work together to ensure that the much-needed resources for the revival of Geraardsbergen are made available in a structural manner and are ensured in the long term.’