Take shorter showers, water board says as drought continues

Households in parts of Friesland, Overijssel and Flevoland have been warned that they may experience lower water pressure than normal as the drought continues. The long, hot spell has lead to 45% increase in demand for water in parts of the provinces, water board Vitens said on Tuesday. This in turn is reducing pressure, which will be noticeable when people shower, the water board said. Vitens is also urging customers to conserve water as much as possible by not washing their car and watering the garden and taking shorter showers. The ongoing drought, which is set to continue to at least the end of the month, may well be the worst on record, weather forecasters say. The previous record dates from 1976. Water boards across the country have warned that water levels in the big rivers are dropping and farmers have been banned from taking water from ditches for their crops. Popular swimming lakes are also being monitored for signs of botulism and blue-green algae booms. The website zwemwater.nl already includes several warnings. The Stichtse Rijnlandsen water board is keeping five areas of dyke wet after they began forming cracks, which can weaken the water defence permanently. Weather Meanwhile, claims by one Dutch weather website on Monday that there is a slight chance the temperature could reach up to 42 degrees next week have been dismissed by other weather forecasters. The KNMI weather bureau says the good weather will continue into next week and there is a 70% chance it will remain dry and sunny up to the end of July. However temperatures will reach 'far above' seasonable norms next week, the KNMI said. There may be some slight showers inland on Tuesday evening and next weekend, the KNMI said. Despite the long spell of dry, bright weather the Netherlands has not yet had an official heatwave this year, defined as five consecutive days above 25C including three of more than 30C, as measured at the KNMI’s weather station at De Bilt near Hilversum. The last recorded heatwave was in June 2015.  More >

Anne Faber's killer jailed for 28 years

Michael P has been jailed for 28 years to be followed by compulsory psychiatric prison for the rape and murder of 25-year-old Anne Faber last year. Anne disappeared on September 29 after going out for a bike ride. Her body was found two weeks later at a spot identified by P. He had previous convictions for sex crimes and was being treated at a clinic close to where she disappeared. Sentencing P, the judge told the court that he was an 'unscrupulous' man who had used violence out of all proportion. 'Her fear and pain must have been terrible,' he said. The prosecutor said during the trial he had decided not to call for life imprisonment, because this could lead to Michael P being released from jail after 25 years without undergoing proper treatment. ‘This would be totally irresponsible, given that P is guilty of very serious sex crimes,’ the prosecutor told the court on the second day of P’s murder trial. P was jailed for 11 years in 2012 for the brutal rape of two teenage girls and for a string of robberies but had not been sent to a psychiatric prison for treatment because he had refused to cooperate with a psychiatric assessment prior to his trial.   More >

Family of tasered man, 73, make complaint

The family of the 73-year-old man with dementia who was tasered by Rotterdam police last week have made a formal complaint about the police action. 'I do not understand why they could not get hold of my father, who is a little old man,' son John Dossett told the AD on Tuesday. 'But there they were, three of them opposite my father who is 73, weighs 60 kilos and is 1.65 metres tall. You don't taser a man like that. And if the three of them could not control him, maybe they are in the wrong jobs.' The tasering of Carl Dossett, which was condemned by Amnesty International, caused an outcry last week, even though justice minister Ferdindand Grapperhaus said he understood the officer was in a 'nasty emergency situation'. But his family say that they have many questions about use of the taser and have now filed a complaint in hope of finding out what really happened. They dispute some of the police claims, such as the location of the incident and say he was not waving a sharp metal implement around. Experiment Dutch police will decide at the end of this year if tasers are to be more widely used - they are currently being used on an experimental basis in several Dutch cities. A report on the trials published in June said electric shock weapons do have ‘added value’ for the police. Since the start of the trail in February 2017, tasers have been drawn 343 times and in 62% of cases, the threat of use was enough to calm the situation down, the report states. ‘The most important effect of the electric shock weapon is the threat it presents to the suspect and the extra confidence that gives to the police officer, ‘ said Willem Woelders, who is in charge of the trial, at the time.   More >

Rotterdam overtakes The Hague in rent

Renting a home in Rotterdam is now slightly more expensive than in The Hague, according to the latest quarterly report by housing platform Pararius. The average rent for new contracts in the port city has gone up 12.65% over the past 12 months, taking the average price per square metre to €15.82 per square metre, 17 cents more than The Hague. But in Rotterdam city centre, prices are now approaching Amsterdam levels, with an average rent of €19.42 per square metre, the Pararius figures show. Amsterdam remains the most expensive place to rent a home, with new contract rents averaging at €22.79 per m2 - or just under €1,500 for a 65 square metre flat - but the annual rise is a more modest 2.3%. 'Rotterdam is becoming increasingly popular and is more often being seen as an alternative to Amsterdam,' said Pararius director Jasper de Groot. 'That is boosting the demand for rental properties and, correspondingly, the rent.' Prices have also risen over 8% in Nijmegen, Enschede, Den Bosch, Eindhoven and Tilburg, De Groot said. Rents have actually fallen slightly in Friesland and Drenthe. New tenants in the two northern provinces can now expect to pay just under €9 per square metre for a private sector rental, less than half the price in Noord-Holland, where the average rent is €20.66 per m2.  More >

More jihadis jailed in absentia

Three men who went to Syria to fight with IS and al-Nusra have been given jail terms of up to seven years, even though none of the men are in the Netherlands at the moment. A fourth man who faced similar terrorism charges was found not guilty by judges in Rotterdam, broadcaster NOS reported. The public prosecution department, which had called for nine year jail terms, decided to press ahead with the case so if any of the men return to the Netherlands they can be locked up immediately. The three sentenced on Tuesday include Victor D from Heeten, a Dutch Muslim convert who was found guilty of taking part in armed jihad and undergoing training with either IS or al-Nusra. A former postman, D left the Netherlands five years ago to fight against Syrian president Assad. He told RTV Oost in a reaction to the sentence that it was ‘doable’ but unjust and an example of ‘institutionalised Islamophobia’.  More >

Amsterdam firemen threaten fire chief

The chief of the Amsterdam fire brigade has been receiving death threats from a section of his own fire service, the public prosecutor has confirmed to newspaper Algemeen Dagblad which is investigating the case. Leen Schaap was installed as chief of the capital’s fire brigade in 2016 by the late Eberhard van der Laan to combat the ‘closed macho work culture’ in the fire brigade in which sexism and racism were tolerated, the paper writes. Schaap’s attempts to ‘clean up’ was met by hostility and he was even prevented from entering the fire stations. Schaap reported two instances of death threats, which are thought to come from firemen who are members of a motorcycle gang. Police have not made any arrests yet but interrogation of a number of firemen showed that plans were afoot to collect money to have the fire chief killed, the paper said. Facebook entries by former firemen also contained threatening content. Police sources told the AD that Schaap is now under constant police protection. Leen Schaap is not commenting on the threats. ‘I have had bucket loads of shit poured over me in the last few years and the end is not in sight,’ he told AT5 in April. That was also the time when he called the fire brigade’s participation council the ‘mafia council’. Works council chair Stephane Konings said it was ‘strange’ the works council had not been told about the threats, the AD reported.  More >

'Housing is a right, not a commodity'

Amsterdam has signed up to a global declaration to the United Nations which states that 'housing must first and foremost be considered as a right, not a commodity' in order for cities to survive. The initiative, launched by Barcelona's outspoken mayor Ada Colau, says that segregation and real estate speculation are two of the issues which must be tackled to ensure cities meet the human rights needs of their inhabitants. To achieve this, local authorities need more powers and funding to better regulate the real estate market, improve public housing stock and develop 'urban planning schemes that combine adequate housing and quality neighbourhoods that are both inclusive and sustainable'. The declaration, signed by the cities of Paris, New York, Strasbourg, Montevideo and Madrid among others, was presented on Monday at a local government forum involving the United Nation's special rapporteur on adequate housing and the high commissioner for human rights. During the presentation, at which Amsterdam was not represented, the cities stressed the importance of not leaving the housing issue to market rules alone. Making money The city council said in a statement the most important message to the UN is that society in popular major cities is under threat. 'The right of residents to affordable housing is in danger because of speculation, investors and mass tourism, which is all about making as much profit as possible,' the statement said. Speaking to the Parool newspaper, Amsterdam's housing alderman Laurens Ivens said: 'We see that in all these cities, all sorts of groups want to make money from housing, which is less and less used to live in.' Ivens referred to recent figures from ING which suggest one in six houses in Amsterdam is bought up by investors. 'They are snapping up homes right in front of Amsterdammers,' he said. Other research, by the University of Amsterdam, suggests more than 10% of the homes in Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Groningen and Maastricht are owned by private investors.  More >

We Transfer considers Amsterdam IPO

The Dutch internet company We Transfer is considering a European IPO and the Euronext stock exchange in Amsterdam best suits its needs, the Telegraaf reported on Tuesday. We Transfer CEO Gordon Willoughby, who came to the company from Amazon, has said a US IPO is out of the question due to the company’s size, the paper said. He first mooted the IPO in May. We Transfer  is a cloud-based computer file transfer service. The company was founded in Amsterdam in 2009 by Bas Beerens and Ronald Hans, best known as the blogger Nalden. It evolved from Beerens’ frustration at not being able to share large files easily. The core service is free, with more features available for premium accounts. Free users can send files up to 2GB; WeTransfer ‘Plus’ supports sending files up to 20GB and offers features like password protection, channel customization and 100 GB storage. Willoughby said an IPO would provide investors an opportunity to cash in their early investment and give the company extra impetus to grow.  We Transfer has been profitable since 2013. The company wants to expand in the US which is the world’s largest market for online advertisements and an IPO in Amsterdam would not limit plans, the paper said. Willoughby cited the great international interest in payments systems processor Adyen whose shares shot up 75% on their first day of trading in Amsterdam in June.  More >

Hema heading for clash with franchisees

Amsterdam-based high-street stores group Hema is embroiled in a dispute with its franchise holders, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Tuesday. The FD bases its claim on a confidential letter dated 5 July which the troubled retailer sent its independent franchisees, terming the arrangement ‘counter-productive’.  Hema wants to reposition the role of franchise holders within the Hema formula. Hema is owned by British investment group Lion Capital which has put the retailer up for sale. The most recent potential buyer was Belgian-based Core Equity which had agreed to pay €1bn for the group earlier this year but later pulled out. The position of the franchisees proved to be a sticking point in negotiations.  Nearly half the 500 Hema stores in the Netherlands are operated under franchise by 96 separate companies. All receive a portion of earnings from Hema’s internet sales within the postcodes in which they operate a Hema franchise.   Core Equity said these contracts- signed before internet sales were a major factor - made it impossible for Hema to expand profitably.   More >

Max and Luna are favourite pet names

Max is the most popular name for Dutch dogs for the third year in a row, according to the annual list compiled by a major pet insurance company. For cats, Luna is back on top after ceding the number one position to Pip last year. Pip is also the second most popular name for dogs. New this year in the dog ranking is Bailey in fourth place, while Coco debuts in the same position in the cat name list. The ranking, compiled by Reaal Dier&Zorg, is based on the names given on new insurance policies and application forms between June 2017 and June this year. The top five dogs' names Max Pip Bella Bailey Bo The top cats' names Luna Pip Nala Coco Max  More >

Schiphol may charge fee for drop-offs

Amsterdam's Schiphol airport is considering introducing a fee for people who drop off friends and relatives by car, the Telegraaf said on Tuesday. 'The available space at the airport is shrinking because the number of passengers keeps going up,' a spokesman told the paper. Reducing pollution is also a consideration, the spokesman said. One of the options being considered is the introduction of a charge for 'kiss and ride' services, the spokesman said. 'However, we can't give any details, we are still thinking about it,' the paper quoted him as saying. Insiders told the Telegraaf that a fee of €5 is being considered. Around one in four passengers using the airport are dropped off by car.   More >