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Dutch News
Amsterdam gets its first female mayor: Femke Halsema sworn in 7/15/2018

Femke Halsema was sworn in as the new mayor of Amsterdam on Thursday, acknowledging the legacy of late mayor Eberhard van der Laan and pledging to deal with the growing city’s challenges but keep its sense of freedom. After thanking the crowd for the trust placed in her, she added Van der Laan’s pledge of eight years ago: ‘Trust is a gift, never an entitlement, and you should always be grateful for it. I am indeed grateful, and I know I must prove myself worthy of this trust every day for the next six years.’ By 2025, she said, the 750-year-old city’s population will have grown by 70,000, plus an expected 29 million tourists and day-trippers – a third more than this year. She added that the ‘international village’ is becoming a metropolis, and with that come growing pains. The essence of Amsterdam is the promise of freedom.’ She pledged to defend this freedom, while combating crime, listening to sometimes-ignored Amsterdammers in less prosperous areas, and protecting minorities. Van der Laan, the last permanent mayor, died from lung cancer last October, aged 62

Dozens of driving tests abandoned because of hazardous learners

Some 130 driving tests a month are abandoned because candidates are so poorly prepared they are a danger to other traffic. ‘Many candidates have no clue about the difference between third and fourth gear so they don’t know how to change gears,’ Nathalie Dingeldein of driving test organisation CBS told public broadcaster NOS. The penalty for people who turn up underprepared for the test is a month’s wait for a second chance, the CBR said. According to NOS, many candidates barely make it out of the CBS premises without committing a fatal error, having convincing a compliant driving instructor that they can take the test after only a few lessons, while others choose a driving school that is not right for them.

Many homes created from vacant office space in Amsterdam region

Record numbers of homes were created from vacant office space in the Amsterdam metropolitan region last year, the Telegraaf reported on Tuesday. Vacant office space in the area totalled 500,000 m2 last year, of which more than half has now been transformed into residential space. The amount of vacant office space in 2017 was at a record high: in 2016 the total was 333,000 m2, down from 348,000 m2 in 2015. The Amsterdam metropolitan region comprises 33 local authorities, the so-called Amsterdam transport region and the provinces of Noord-Holland and Flevoland. It encompasses the area between IJmuiden and Lelystad and from Purmerend to the Haarlemmermeer.

Retailers lose millions as automated payments system fails

Dutch retailers lost millions of euros on Thursday evening as the nation’s automated payments system PIN went down for 90 minutes. The situation was made worse because Thursday is the evening shops are open until late in many Dutch cities, public broadcaster NOS reported on Friday. About 10 million PIN transactions take place every day, according to Michel van Bommel of retailers lobby group Detailhandel Nederland. And because ATMs are often out of action, this meant that many shoppers were unable to pay on Thursday evening. ‘Shopping trolleys were left standing in supermarkets,’ Van Bommel said. ‘It was more difficult at petrol stations as the fuel had already been pumped.’ Carry cash Payments consultant Simon Lelieveldt, who found himself unable to pay a garage bill, said the Dutch payments system is stable. ‘Our payments system works 99.95% of the time,’ he told the NOS.

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