The Zeeland Tolvrij Foundation wants a referendum on the support package that the provincial government has agreed with the government. According to the action committee, a large majority of the people of Zeeland are dissatisfied with the agreements made, as compensation for the canceled move from the marine barracks to Vlissingen.
The foundation, which will collect signatures for the referendum, does not expect that the arrival of an extra secure court and prison will lead to an economic strengthening of the province. They also doubt whether all measures will increase the attractiveness of the region to people to settle there, thus increasing the quality of life, which is the intention of the aid package.
“An empty box”, chairman Cees Liefting of the Foundation briefly summarizes the alternative plan. According to him, judges, officers and other personnel from both the court and the newly built prison will not settle en masse in Zeeland. “They will come from the Randstad to Zeeland in the morning and travel back in the evening,” says Liefting. “Also because a better train connection with the Randstad is also part of the plan.”
Toll-free Western Scheldt tunnel
In addition, they are outraged that the toll-free Western Scheldt tunnel was not discussed during the negotiations. Many Zeelanders use the tunnel daily and have been advocating accelerated tolling for years. The tunnel was opened in 2003 for approximately 750 million euros. A large part of that investment is earned back by levying tolls. Discontinuation is now scheduled for March 2033.
At the beginning of this month, the Zeeland Toll-Free Foundation offered the House of Representatives another 30,000 signatures to increase the pressure. A motion to accelerate the abolition of the toll was rejected by a small majority.
The foundation now wants the people of Zeeland to speak in a referendum about the support package. And that compensation is being renegotiated in the interests of all Zeelanders and a viable future for Zeeland. There should be serious talk about a toll-free tunnel. According to chairman Cees Liefting, the parties have never seriously considered this.
The province of Zeeland owns the Westerschelde tunnel and the millions of euros in tolls form a major source of income for the provincial budget every year. Liefting: “We would have liked the government to buy off the expected amount of toll as compensation.” Many people from Zeeland have work and family on the ‘other side’, on Walcheren. Especially in Vlissingen, Middelburg and Goes, and travel through the tunnel every day. They no longer think of this time that they are the only Dutch people who have to pay a toll for an important connection, while that does not happen anywhere in the rest of the country.
In order to submit a legally valid request for a referendum in Zeeland to the province, 2 percent of the number of voters in Zeeland must sign, which amounts to some 5800 Zeelanders. In the end, the Provincial Council will vote on the request, and whether a referendum on the aid package will therefore be held.