State secretary Van der Burg to visit Tubbergen to discuss 'asylum hotel'
State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) will travel to Tubbergen next Tuesday to talk to the city council about the situation that arose there after the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) purchased a hotel in the municipality to shelter several hundred people. Local residents and municipal authorities have protested this purchase.
The municipality announced on Friday evening that the State Secretary will explain his intention and the procedure during a public council meeting. Van der Burg intended to visit Tubbergen on Thursday, but the mayor advised him to come a little later. A spokesperson for the ministry confirmed that the state secretary will be present at the council meeting.
The municipality of Tubbergen was not aware that the COA would buy the hotel, it said, but Van der Burg said earlier that the organization had indeed spoken to the municipal council several times. "There was a 'no' on that and that is of course allowed. Only we really need extra places in the Netherlands. That is why we already said some time ago that we will continue with reception locations," Van der Burg said on Friday.
"The municipality of Tubbergen is in a unique situation," the municipality said in a statement Friday evening. "For the first time in history, the central government is making use of the power to designate a location for an asylum seekers' center. In doing so, the central government bypasses the executive board and the democratically-elected municipal council. This raises many questions among residents and also the municipality of Tubbergen."
The municipal council said it appreciates the fact that the state secretary "quickly responded" to the invitation. The municipal council will use the coming days "to keep in touch with residents, to obtain information and to be advised."
In recent weeks, asylum seekers at the Ter Apel application center have had to sleep outside, as there were not enough beds to accommodate them. Responding to the municipality of Tubbergen's concerns, refugee organization Vluchtelingenwerk pointed out that hundreds of asylum seekers, “including pregnant women and children,” have had to sleep on the streets.
Reporting by ANP