Politicians join calls for improvements to Brussels' stations

Politicians have called for action to deal with safety issues at Brussels Midi and North stations, including a ban on alcohol, more social support for those living on the street and better coordination between the authorities responsible for the station, Bruzz reports.

“The security problems in and around Brussels Midi and North stations just won’t stop,” Mathias Vanden Borre (N-VA, Flemish nationalists) told Radio 1 on Tuesday. He wants to see an alcohol ban in neighbourhoods around the stations, as well as a ban on gatherings, begging, street prostitution and tent camps. 

“These measures are needed in the short term to bring order to the situation,” he said. He wants local police zones, the federal police, security service Securail and the railway police to better coordinate their work, with a zero tolerance policy on pickpockets and drug dealers in the area.

"Merely focusing on repression is not a solution, because that shifts the problem or makes it invisible and so it isn’t solved"

Nadia Naji, chair of Flemish green party Groen, meanwhile, is calling for increased social support to tackle problems related to drug addiction and homelessness. “The problems at stations and in several neighbourhoods are first and foremost a symptom of more structural problems, which have worsened sharply since the Covid crisis,” she said.

“The situation is complex and so there is no miracle solution. Merely focusing on repression is not a solution, because that shifts the problem or makes it invisible and so it isn’t solved.”

She also wants to see better cooperation between police, financial authorities and courts. “As well as strengthening police services, street support and front-line workers will need to be reinforced, as will housing projects and social and psychological counselling for people living on the streets.”

Passing the buck

Last week, the head of rail operator SNCB called for a more coordinated approach to tackle security and cleanliness at the two stations.

In response, Bruzz reports that prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) gathered the relevant parties this week. In attendance were representatives from the federal Home Affairs, Asylum and Migration, and Mobility ministries. The Brussels region and the municipalities of Anderlecht and Saint-Gilles were also involved, as was SNCB.

“It is a complex problem that cuts across several levels of government. In the worst-case scenario, we pass the buck,” De Croo’s spokesperson told Bruzz. “Instead, we want to work together to address the problem.” 



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