On Friday morning the new Luxembourg City Municipal Council of mayor, deputy mayor and five aldermen was unveiled in the town hall offices on Place Guillaume II.
After the municipal elections on 8 October, the 27 council seats in Luxembourg City were split as follows: DP - 9; CSV - 7; Green - 5; LSAP - 3; Lenk - 2; ADR - 1.
Following 12 meetings in which various possible coalition options were debated, the final municipal council format was announced by Lydie Polfer, who retains the position of Mayor as the representative of the largest party in the coalition, the DP. Her deputy Mayor is CSV councillor Serge Wilmes, and the five aldermen are Simone Beissel, Colette Mart and Patrick Goldschmidt all from the DP, and Isabel Wiseler and Laurent Mosar both representing the CSV.
Thus the previous DP/Green coalition is consigned to the history books with the Green’s place at the top table being taken exclusively by the CSV.
Madame Polfer presented in outline the plan for the new administration, entitled “6 priorités pour 6 ans” (6 priorities for 6 years), which were identified as Housing, Mobility, Urban Development, Education and Social Harmony, Environment and Security.
For Housing the coalition is planning to follow the national line in proposing a hybrid of private and public projects with particular focus on the areas around the Stade Josy Bartel, the Villeroy & Boch site in Rollingergrund and the Hollerich area, which will become a so-called Eco-district. Priority will be given to affordable housing.
While clearly the new tram link represents the dominant mobility effort, the number of cycle paths will be increased, and, good news for car drivers at least, there is a recognition that for the good of the city it must not become a motoring no-go zone. The guidance system to available parking will be enhanced to try and improve traffic circulation, and a lot more parking places will become available after the extension of the Knuedler parking and the opening of the underground parking at the new Royal-Hamilius shopping centre.
As far as urban development is concerned, emphasis will be placed on balancing the continuing attractiveness of the City as a commercial destination with the need to ensure that the residential quarters remain pleasant, with open air spaces and thriving local shops and restaurants.
On the education front the priorities are on the development of all-day schools, ensuring that the quality of education is brought up to the same level across all 24 districts of the City and in the development of new sporting and cultural infrastructures. Social harmony is seen as important too, with the municipal council looking to increase the level of integration and encourage the participation of all citizens in the life of the City with emphasis on sporting, cultural and educational activities.
The continued reduction in the use of pesticides remains a top objective environmentally, along with constant monitoring of air and noise pollution. There will be a rethink of the ways in which household waste is treated, most notably in exploring the possibility, along with neighbouring municipalities, of a dry fermentation plant.
The final priority is security. Apart from an increased police presence in both the already known “sensitive” areas and the residential areas, the big news is that pedestrian zones will be protected with removable/retracting bollards, thus increasing security in times of increased pedestrian access such as the Christmas Market. Additionally there will be a targeted increase in the number of video surveillance cameras.
Mayor Polfer was questioned afterwards about the lack of representation for the other parties, which she robustly defended, and also was brought to task about the lack of initiatives for other forms of personal transport. Here she made it clear that, although they are planning to do more for cyclists, it is clear that this will always be a minority form of transport and we must be realistic about the continued importance of the motor car.
Afterwards, talking to Chronicle.lu, Alderman Patrick Goldschmidt, responsible for mobility, confirmed that position in saying that “the car is not just about the people who come here to work and park their cars for 8-10 hours a day, it is at least as important for the residents who need to move around, go to the doctor, do their shopping and so on. Across the world people are drifting OUT of the centres towards out of town shopping malls, we want to attract people IN to the City”.
The next municipal council meeting is scheduled for 4 December, when more flesh will be put on these initial proposals.