Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema faced angry residents of Noord on Wednesday evening in a meeting about the city’s plans for an erotic center. None of the attendees were optimistic about the erotic center, but the discussion was more constructive than a similar one in Zuid on Tuesday, AT5 reports.
Last month, Amsterdam announced three possible locations for the erotic center, two in Zuid and one at the NDSM Wharf in Noord. Since the announcement, there’s been a lot of unrest, mainly in Zuid but also in Noord.
About 300 people attended the meeting in ‘t Zonnehus. Like in Zuid on Tuesday, Halsema listened to a lot of complaints and criticism.
“I don’t think it’s safe for children if certain people come here. Crime is really connected to that. I’m very concerned and hope you will look at other locations,” one local said.
“I doubt your argument that those sex tourists won’t come here. The operators who sit in the erotic center want those sex party tourists to make enough money. And I don’t blame them.”
But many locals managed to keep their questions and comments concise and constructive. “Would you close the center again if over-tourism in the Red Light District does not decrease?” one man wanted to know.
Halsema seemed to appreciate the question. “You also ask me for honest answers, but we have absolutely no intention of having over-touristy areas in the Centrum and Noord,” she said.
Like Tuesday, there were some harsh clashes. “You will really lose us forever,” one woman said. “And do you know what we will call you later? I hardly dare say it. The whore madam of Amsterdam who then comes to the other side once in a while to see how the sex palace is doing.”
Halsema did not let that comment lie. “Ma’am, I’m going to say something to you,” she said. “You are facing the first female mayor of Amsterdam. You’d have never called a man a whore madam, and I take that to heart. And you overdid it with that.”
Halsema described the meeting as relatively productive, saying it primarily focused on the content. “There was a lot of criticism, and people were worried. I found the atmosphere pleasant. Everyone listened to each other well, and I thought it was a nice evening all in all.”
Like Zuid, Noord doesn’t want the erotic center, Halsema acknowledged. “A general problem with prostitution is that nobody in the city really wants it. People have real concerns about their residential area and public transport, and we must deal with that very seriously.”
On Tuesday, Halsema pointed out that residents have the right to protest and raise their objections, but that won’t automatically mean they get their way. The same is true in Amsterdam Noord. The next step in the process is discussing the erotic center during the General Affairs committee meeting in the Stopera on Thursday afternoon.
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