For years, the well-known ice cream parlor Cremerie François has been battling the nuisance caused by its neighbours, mainly residents of the adjacent social housing block on Zwijgershoek. “Dealing drugs, fights, mountains of garbage, … it is such a shame what is happening in our case. Some customers don’t even dare to use our back entrance anymore,” says co-manager Lies Van de Casserie.
Saturday, January 21, 2023 at 06:00
“The problem has been going on for years,” says Lies. “Since 2017 I have been sending weekly emails to the manager of the social rental company, but the misery remains. The rental company is certainly doing its best to help us, but it is also hitting its limits. It’s mopping with the tap open. The mountains of garbage are piling up and dealing and using drugs at our back entrance is a daily occurrence. Sometimes a dealer is briefly arrested, but after their release they just carry on. They feel unapproachable. They don’t even hide it anymore.”
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The creamerie’s customers also sometimes ask questions. “This week the place smelled of cannabis. Customers talk to you about this: what does it smell like in here?, says Lies. “It has even gone so far that customers no longer dare to use our back entrance at Zwijgershoek. But we remain committed to our cause and to our city. It’s always nice to create a nice place. But it is such a shame what is happening at our back door.”
The problem is known to the local police of Sint-Niklaas. “It is mainly three buildings from the social housing units that cause nuisance,” says spokesman Kim Maes. “We are in close contact with the social rental company. Deportation proceedings are currently underway against them. But that is a long process.”
“We try to act as much as possible against nuisance causes,” says Maes. “We have already drawn up official reports and we also ensure that excess waste is regularly removed.” The police are also making attempts to enter into a dialogue with the residents, but this has received little support. “We had organized a meeting, but only one or two residents showed up. They do not contact the police for fear of reprisals.”