Blackmail

Should taxpayers pick up the tab for a private company’s mistake? The Telegraaf reports today that Amsterdam City Council is being put under considerable pressure by builders Hillen & Roosen to do just that.


Hillen & Roosen were responsible for building a shopping center complex – complete with a market square and flats – in the Amsterdam district of Bos and Lommer.
Opened with great furore about the regeneration of run-down district, the centre is now empty, the residents have been moved out and put into hotels. The reason? No reinforced concrete to hold up some of the floors.
Hillen & Roosen has worked out a generous compensation package for home owners, but the Telegraaf reports that there is a sneaky little clause attached to it: the whole compensation deal will be voided if Hillen & Roosen can’t agree with the council on how much it should pay to the city.
Amsterdam has forked out millions to rehouse the hapless tenants and help the shopkeepers – and wants it back. ‘We feel we are being put under pressure in an unfair manner,’ a spokesman for the council told the paper.
An ‘unfair manner’ is putting it mildly. It sounds rather like blackmail. Hillen & Roosen should be ashamed of themselves – and banned from any more council contracts until they pay up.