Brussels moves to minimize effects of works on the public, businesses

Brussels moves to minimize effects of works on the public, businesses

The Brussels Regional Parliament will start examining in commission on Monday a bill aimed at better managing the effects of public works in the capital area. Measures proposed in the bill include: compensating businesses affected by public works lasting one month or more; anticipating on the impact of such works on neighbourhoods; planning, together with all stakeholders, for foreseeable public works to be executed over a five-year period; and extending working hours. In this way, the region’s authorities hope to enter a new phase in managing the effects of some 120,000 projects a year in public places.

The draft ordinance was introduced on Friday by the ministers of Public Works and Economic Affairs, Pascal Smet and Didier Gosuin respectively, supported by the President of the Union of Middle Classes.

The text revisits legislation passed 20 years ago at the initiative of the then secretary of state Eric Andre, now late, and reviewed 10 years ago by Pascal Smet.

Smet said on Friday that since the beginning of the present legislature, public works deadlines have been respected, but the Brussels Government wants to make an extra effort to reduce the duration of such works by extending working hours. This is already incorporated into the programmes of the most recent projects, but the Region wishes to give it the force of law.

The authorities also plan to include a business representative in the region’s coordinating commission on public works, comprising representatives of municipalities, police precincts, the regional transport utility STIB, Brussels Mobility (the regional transport department) and the fire service, SIAMU.

This commission meets each week to review upcoming works, study any deviations and validate them.

One of the key aspects of the future ordinance is a new system for compensating businesses for the effects of works lasting 29 days or more. The existing system inherited from the Federal Government, provides € 73.30 per day of closure for interruptions lasting at least one week. Few businesses make use of it.

Special provision is now being made for small businesses (less than 10 full-time equivalents), considered more vulnerable because of their size. Should access to such businesses be hampered by work on a project of long duration, they will receive between € 2,000 and € 2,700 a day in compensation, depending on their size, once the works interrupt traffic for 29 days or more.

The Brussels Times

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