Home affairs minister more flexible on merging local councils

Home affairs minister Ronald Plasterk will be more flexible about reducing the number of local councils in the Netherlands and will not stick rigidly to the minimum residents requirement of 100,000, he said in an interview with the Volkskrant.

Plasterk also said he is prepared to listen to councils if they will face financial difficulties following the mergers and will give the provinces a mediation role if councils cannot agree.

‘I want to remove mayors’ concerns about the plan being imposed from above,’ he said. ‘This is absolutely not the cabinet’s intention.’

The Netherlands currently has 408 local authorities and around 10 mergers take place every year. The government wants to double this to 20. The move is part of the government’s plans to decentralise some of its work, such as care of the elderly and the handicapped.|

Plasterk also wants to merge the country’s 12 provincial governments into five, a move which the provinces strongly oppose.

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