Province of Antwerp against municipality merger, citing port as main concern
The province of Antwerp prefers that the new municipality in the merger of Zwijndrecht, Beveren and Kruibeke not be located in East Flanders as initially planned, first deputy of the province, Luk Lemmens (N-VA) said on Wednesday.
On 13 December, Lemmens is set to advise the Antwerp provincial council against the potential merged municipality from being located in East Flanders. The East Flanders provincial council will also provide advice on the possible shifting of borders at the same time. The final decision will be made by the Flemish parliament.
"With a focus on overall safety in the port, we will advise consolidation into one area," said Lemmens. Provincial governor Cathy Berx (CD&V) agrees. Two police zones, two fire zones and a different permit policy would not be efficient, they say.
Currently, the port is already divided among three provinces. Part of the Port of Antwerp-Bruges has been in Waasland in East Flanders for several years. A third province was recently added when Zeebrugge in West Flanders joined after the merger.
If the municipality of Zwijndrecht-Burcht were to merge with Beveren and Kruibeke, the province of Antwerp would lose 2.6 million euros a year owing to the business taxes that would then go to East Flanders. Considering the presence of many petrochemical companies in Zwijndrecht, this would be a setback for Antwerp. Green party Groen recently referred to it as a "fiscal loss".
It is currently unclear whether the merger will take place. On Tuesday, 540 residents of Zwijndrecht filed a complaint against the planned merger to the Agency for Domestic Governance.
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