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Newly launched Mobiscore is met with criticism

Public transport in the country © Visit Flanders

A new way of measuring how sustainable your home address is has been met with criticism just days after it was introduced.

The Mobiscore is a score introduced by the Flemish government, which looks at various aspects of your home address to determine how environmentally-friendly it is to live there. The score combines access to public transport, shops and businesses, schools and other essential facilities.

That has led to the situation where someone living in a rural setting finishes up with a lower Mobiscore that someone living in the centre of Brussels, as two opinion pieces published by the VRT made clear.

In the first instance, communications consultant Bram Boriau, who lives and works in Brussels, was able to boast that his Mobiscore for an apartment in Ganshoren did better than his father’s house in the village of Liedekerke in Flemish Brabant. And his office in Brussels-City scored a perfect 10/10.

There is a split between the city and the country, and it is becoming ever bigger,” he writes. “People from the countryside can’t imagine living in the filthy city full of foreigners, and the hip city folk don’t understand how anyone can live in a place where nothing ever happens, and you sit for hours in traffic to come into the city.”

In the second opinion, marketer Frank Wouters, who lives and works in the village of Weelde in the Kempen north of Turnhout, confirms the existence of a split between country and city, but accuses the Mobiscore initiative of exacerbating the problem by its “unjust and manipulative” way of scoring.

The scoring system, he argues, makes the unsupported assumption that a resident of the country has any interest in travelling into the city, whether for work or for leisure activities. While a rural inhabitant has easy access to country lanes for running, golf course and other open-air activities, those count for nothing beside proximity to a gym or swimming pool.

In addition, a low score for access to public transport is, he says, “a shifting of the blame from the government to the citizen”.

Because the government has failed to organise public transport in this area where I live, for decades ignored by Brussels, there is now an official measure from that same city which suggests that I’m the one at fault. Apparently, there’s nothing wrong with public transport, only with the people who are living in the wrong place.”

For the time being, the conflict surrounding Mobiscore prevails, but could there eventually be concrete consequences to having a low or high Mobiscore? The possibility was raised by Leo Van Broeck, the official architect of the Flemish government, whose office is involved in creating public policy on housing.

Van Broeck praised the Mobiscore as “an outstanding initiative,” to Het Nieuwsblad, but held out on the possibility of Mobiscore carrying real consequences.

For a house that scores badly, you might, for example, be refused a grant for renovation in the same location,” he speculates. “And in time, it could also affect the price of houses.”

Check your own Mobiscore in Flanders and Brussels here.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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