NOS News•today, 7:20 PM
Entrepreneurs in Ter Apel are losing confidence in politics. According to them, too little is being done about the nuisance caused by asylum seekers at the registration center in the village. “Everyone is sorry, but no one is actually helping us through this now. Our village is broken.”
In an urgent letter to both local and national politicians, the shopkeepers write emotionally that they have kept their mouths shut for a long time so as not to unnecessarily damage Ter Apel’s image. However, they come to the conclusion that silence has achieved nothing. According to the entrepreneurs, this is because politicians are too busy with themselves.
“Ultimately, everyone has only one interest: their own job, responsibility based on their own position, which is different for everyone, with everyone’s own interests, which means we are not making any progress here.”
In addition, the mayor of the municipality of Westerwolde shows too little support, they believe. They call him a golden retriever who doesn’t stand up for them. “He is a nice man,” they write. “But we need a lion.”
The entrepreneurs say that about two hundred asylum seekers are causing the nuisance in Ter Apel. According to them, it concerns theft, threats and intimidating behavior. They are done with that, because it costs them customers, they say.
“We don’t want customers running away in fear because someone is shouting again. We just want to walk to our car without security. We just want to be a store, just like all the other stores in the Netherlands.”
In the letter they therefore demand that those causing nuisance are no longer accommodated in Ter Apel. They also want more officers on the street and compensation for the damage to their image and thefts.
The letter is not signed with names and it is unclear how many people are behind it. At the bottom the sender reads ‘Very concerned entrepreneurs from Ter Apel’.
‘Wear and tear’
In response to the urgent letter, Mayor Jaap Velena has stated that he also wants more police on a structural basis. “The question about this is still outstanding,” he says. “We are receiving extra deployment from the Royal Military Police and we are already receiving extra help from police from surrounding regions.”
He also indicates that he understands the frustration and despair of entrepreneurs. “It is a matter of wear and tear. The points they mention in their urgent letter are exactly those points that we have been discussing with the State Secretary and the ministry in recent months and continue to work hard on. On many of those points we have firm commitments have been received. But experience shows us that this does not provide any guarantees.”