Amsterdam to remove 21 more tram and bus stops, to cut journey times

Amsterdam's public transport company GVB is to remove a further 21 bus and tram stops in an effort to cut journey times and make the network more efficient, the Parool reported on Friday. Stops which involve a small detour, are not widely used and which are close to other stops, are up for the chop, the organisation said. There are currently 850 tram and bus stops in the city's public transport network. The Parool said 89 stops have been abolished in the past four years and 36 new ones - including eight for the new Noord Zuid metro route - have come into service. The news comes just a day after city officials said they would raise parking fees in the city in an effort to encourage more people to use public transport and bikes. 'We will keep the guideline that everyone should have a tram or bus stop no more than 400 metres from their front door, with a distance of 250 metres for locations where many people find walking difficult,' a GVB spokesman told the paper.  More >

Hema's new owner halves the board

The new owner of Dutch high street staple Hema has halved the size of the board from eight to four, the company confirmed on Thursday. The decision will enable Hema to develop its growth strategy in a 'more targeted, faster and less complex' way, the company said, adding that 'the responsibilities of the affected board members can also be picked up by senior management.' Last month Hema confirmed it was to be taken over by Dutch entrepreneur and investor Marcel Boekhoorn. The company said at the time the deal would enable Hema to 'focus fully in the next few years on online growth, international expansion and improving profitability'. Hema now operates more than 700 stores in nine countries including France, Germany, Spain and the UK, and has a payroll of more than 11,000.   More >

Secret Escapes takes over TravelBird

British online travel group Secret Escapes is taking over bankrupt Dutch holiday platform TravelBird, but most of the company's 270 to 300 workers will be out of a job, the curator said on Wednesday. TravelBird went bust earlier this month after failing to find new financing and the label will now become part of the Secret Escapes stable. The deal gives Secret Escapes the company's IT platform, the brand, logos and its list of customers. 'I think several dozen workers will keep their jobs but over 200 will be out of work,' the curator told the Financieele Dagblad. 'But we should not worry about those who will be out of work because headhunters are already at the door.' The curator's report also shows that TravelBird and Secret Escapes had been talking about some form of alliance up to the bankruptcy, the FD says.   More >

Less livestock key to cutting manure fraud

The only way to stop farmers committing fraud by dumping more manure on their land than allowed is to reduce the number of cows, pigs and chickens on Dutch farms, according to the public prosecutor in charge of environmental crime. Rob de Rijck told the NRC in an interview that little has improved in the approach towards fraud with manure since the NRC uncovered major problems in Brabant and Limburg in 2017. Plans to set up a nationwide task force have not materialised and both the public prosecution department and product safety authority do not have enough capacity to carry out proper checks, De Rijck said. 'More manure is being produced than the land can cope with,' he said. 'From a criminal law perspective, the only thing that can be done is to reduce the amount of manure. We should have less livestock.' The Netherlands is currently allowed to spread more manure on farmland than in other EU countries but that could change next year when the EU reconsiders the rules. Forgery The NRC found last year that farmers are forging their accounts, illegally trading their manure or dumping more on their land than permitted by law, while transport companies are fiddling lorry weights and making unrecorded trips to dump manure at night. Brabant and Limburg are home to 60% of all pigs, 40% of all chickens and one sixth of all cows in the country which together produce 16.5 billion kilos of manure. Factory farms are subject to strict rules about how much manure they can put on their land. The rest has to be disposed off or traded with other farmers who have not used up their own manure quotas. But disposal costs money and some farmers are unwilling to spend the cash. Instead, they falsify their own manure records, in some cases, by doctoring manure samples to alter the concentration of phosphates and nitrates, the paper said.  More >

Tax minister to simplify 'complex' system

Junior finance minister Menno Snel plans to simplify the current Dutch tax system and will present his proposals to parliament early next year. Changes to the ‘box 2’ system of dealing with income other than earnings from work is on the cards, as is taxing income earned from rental platforms such as Airbnb, the junior minister told MPs in a briefing. The current complex system of benefits will also be included in the evaluation, Snel said. The cabinet has already made made progress, Snel said in his briefing. For example, from next year the number of tax bands will be formalised at two. Government auditors said last year they have no idea if most of the 213 tax breaks available to companies and private individuals in the Netherlands have any effect or what they actually cost the treasury.  More >