The new Aldermen for Luxembourg City were sworn in at the end of November 2017, followed in December by the new councillors. For all of the elected CSV officials in the City Council, their new situation, after twelve years in opposition, brought with it fresh opportunities and challenges. How did they handle their new responsibilities during these first months? What were the priorities of CSV-Stad?
„What have we done for people during these first few months in the City Council? We simply did our job“, says Serge Wilmes, first Alderman of Luxembourg City. „We have a clear vision for our city. We know what we want to achieve : a high standard of living for everyone who lives or works here. We want to live up to our responsibility and leading role in societal, cultural, economic and social affairs, representing our city as capital city of our country and motor of the „Grande Region“. Our priorities and concrete challenges were set out in our election manifesto and taken up in the Declaration of the College of Aldermen. We are now working on their implementation. In some fields we can rely on continuity and good groundwork. In others, we have to start with laying solid foundations if we want to ensure that the house does not collapse during construction, so to speak.“
Significantly, Wilmes singles out housing priorities: „we want to step up efforts to provide a helping hand from the City together with the national authorities and public housebuilders. We shall provide more affordable housing. Creating high-quality housing also entails designing attractive public spaces in the city neighbourhoods. We want „joie de vivre“ and social diversity in the city, not just population growth. To manage all this and to follow other important private construction projects, we have massively boosted our resources by adding another four architects to the City’s competent team. On top of this, we are drawing up an inventory of all constructible land that belongs to the City. These are just two examples of many, showing where and how we can finally set out our requirements for when the time comes to take action in the next years.“
Together for people
CSV-Alderwoman for social affairs, Isabel Wiseler, emphasises how important it was to start by getting to know better the City Council staff, to discuss CSV’s new political orientation and exchange ideas on concrete projects, to listen to their opinions and learn of their experiences. „Familiarising myself with issues through site visits is also something very close to my heart.. I therefore spent a lot of time going to all the youth centres and several other social centres in the City, bringing decision-making closer to the realities on the ground, so to speak. It is so important that those entrusted with the responsibility of managing these centres, and their staff, are aware that they have our respect, our trust and our support for their valuable work. In return they have to accept, of course, that we insist that they work fairly and remain fully committed to provide their services to citizens, whether they be rich or poor, young or old. Together we want to make a positive impact on those people’s lives.“
We won’t let anyone down
How Paul Galles, CSV City councillor, sums it up: „Let no one be forgotten.” It is of course a guiding principle for all the work of the CSV Team, although not always easily translated into reality. One only has to take a look at the situation around the main railway station, in Hollerich, Gasperich or Bonnevoie, where multiple social problems coexist. Many local residents feel that this concentration has adversely affected their quality of life and their security. Drugs, prostitution, homelessness are not the norm but they are a reality in our society, even if we want to turn a blind eye to these issues that cause intense human suffering. „We will certainly not let anyone down, neither local residents nor those people in need. “
„This means”, underlines Alderman Laurent Mosar, „that we focus on those neighbourhoods with the highest crime rates, to reassure residents via discussions and concrete measures that we are tackling their security concerns and are not leaving them alone to fend for themselves. The right to security and mutual solidarity must go hand in hand.“ First steps have already been taken following discussions with affected residents and in cooperation with the Ministry and the Police.
Discussing with you
For Maurice Bauer, Spokesman for the CSV members of the City Council, direct contact beween Councillors and citizens remains of utmost importance. In addition to promoting citizen participation (for example in designing public spaces, as is the case for Place Thorn in Merl and Place de Paris near the main railway station) it means listening to people’s everyday problems. Politicians cannot always help;, but they can at least show respect by taking the time to listen to citizens. According to Bauer, CSV Stad was trying to guarantee this, working together with their coalition partner. The recent flooding in Pfaffental made it abundantly clear to us all that help for local residents had to be as uncomplicated as possible. Now it was a matter of ensuring, by means of a thorough investigation into the causes, that the flooding would not recur. During the last months, the recent cases of the Coffee-Bike standholder, the „Hariko“ project, the „Wichtelhaus” building in Beggen, the trees along the Avenue de la Liberté, various problems of small businesses, had also demonstrated the willingness of politicians to listen and discuss when residents brought their problems or disputes to their attention. There could never be a solution for each and every problem, but it was important to be available to listen and help find solutions.
Working away till 2023
„In this day and age of smartphones and social networks, politics is too often under pressure. We need to act, not react“ comments Councillor Claudine Konsbruck. „We will assess our performance in 2023, not beforehand.” Referring to the City’s demographics, made up of 160 different nationalities, schools as well as sports and cultural activities are powerful tools for social integration and play an significant role in enhancing social cohesion. The City Council intends to add further facilities such as increasing the offer of homework supervision groups and support for other projects that promote the cultural development of children and young people. „Common creative cultural or sports activities foster cohesion and aid personal development.“
With an eye firmly on the future
The youngest member of the CSV City Councillors,, Elisabeth Margue, looks confidently at the challenges ahead. Especially on the topics of of „Smart City“, digitalisation projects. And on sustainability, whether in the home or introducing eco-neighbourhoods and new housing models, or soft and electric mobility or even regarding recycling, altogether the possibilities seem endless. „There is a lot of work to do, but we can also look forward to fascinating and exciting developments and possibilities as we shape our future“, adds Margue.