Belgian city pays local activist €1.65 million to stop protesting

Belgian city pays local activist €1.65 million to stop protesting
Van Damme has taken the city of Aarschot to court because it does not maintain its low-speed roads. Credit: Trage Wegen

The city of Aarschot in the Flemish Brabant province will pay an activist for better road infrastructure, Marc Van Damme, €1.65 million if he stops the proceedings he started.

Several years ago, Van Damme took the city of Aarschot to court for not maintaining its low-speed roads. The judge ruled in favour of Van Damme, and the city had to pay a fine for every day it did not start the maintenance.

However, the amount of money owed has risen so high by now that the city wants to conclude a settlement with Van Damme, and will pay him €1.65 million to stop the court proceedings.

"The city is meant to comply with the judge's rulings, but they have not done so for years," said Van Damme, reports VRT. "The city then has to pay a fine that will go to the other party, and the amount has gotten quite high in the meantime. If the case were to go to court, the amount would double, but I have made a concession. The amount will be limited, but the city must comply with the verdict within six months, and make sure its footpaths are in order," he added.

"The bottom line is that Aarschot, just like other municipalities, has a valuable patrimony of small, earthly roads that are vulnerable. Legally, they have to be maintained, but the city neglects them. The penalty that the city has to pay now, they've done it to themselves," he added. The money will be invested in the environment, he said.

The activist lives in the municipality of Nieuwrode, on the border between the cities of Holsbeek and Aarschot, and has made been taking local authorities who do not maintain their low-speed roads to court for some time, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

He did it in Holsbeek as well, where the footpaths are very well maintained now, according to him.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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