‘A goodbye with a smile and a tear’

Anke Klein soon leaves as councilor with a smile and a tear. Her role on the political and administrative stage in Utrecht is over. As responsible for matters such as culture, education and economy, she has left a strong mark on the city and its inhabitants. Now that the new council is imminent, the D66 faction has announced that it will nominate another as councilor. It’s a shame for Klein, for she would have liked to have been by, but above all, she looks back on the past four years with joy and pride.

To begin with, the latter tells Klein that she was still unemployed for a new period. “But I also know that you are not something forever, and it is up to the group to choose a candidate for the new period. I also did not assume that I could just continue for another four years, I took into account that it could stop. ” When Klein started as councilor, colleagues even said that every Thursday, the day the city council of Utrecht meets, may be the last. “So you always have to show what you stand for.”

That goodbye may not be entirely desired does not make her look back on the last four years less rosy. Klein is responsible for the finance, culture and education portfolios, as well as heritage, district-oriented work and participation, Utrecht 900 and eastern and inner city districts. Major topics that required extra attention due to the corona crisis. When she started in 2018, of course, she could not foresee the corona pandemic.

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The councilors during the start-up in 2018

Register the school

When we ask Klein about the gun feats, the first thing she says – after mentioning that it’s hard to choose – is that new registration policy for primary schools in Utrecht† When Klein started, there were signs that it was not fair to enroll children in schools. After an extensive investigation, this turned out to be the case. Klein: “Not all children had the same opportunity to apply to their favorite school.” As a result, the policy led to unequal opportunities, and a dichotomy between children and parents with different economic backgrounds could arise. “It goes against any sense of justice, of course. Even if this happens to a child, it is already too much. ”

Klein came to work and she managed to unite almost all schools, 106 out of 109, in Utrecht to jointly develop a registration system. “It was important that as many schools as possible participated, because as a municipality we do not accept children, the schools do.” A new central way of registering was introduced. Initial results show that 95 percent of children can go to their favorite school.

Councilor Anke Klein in front of the class at Waterrijk primary school

the cultural sector

When we talk about culture, Klein jumps. In recent years, she has visited institutions in the city as much as possible – if the corona situation allowed it. Klein explains: “We can be really proud of all the talent that is here; young creators and big established names, from amateur art to professionals. “She praises the success of TivoliVredenburg, where different spaces program different genres and thus bring different target groups together in one building. But Klein also emphasizes the importance of the neighborhood’s culture houses and a place like Berlin Square.

During her time as councilor, the council made 45.2 million euros free for a new cultural heart in Leidsche Rijn. In this week papers signed† “Berlinplein is and will be a place in development, that is also its strength. It is not completely well thought out on paper, but it is flexible and can change in relation to users ‘and visitors’ reactions and wishes. A place like this is also needed in the Leidsche Rijn, where everything is thought down to the smallest detail. It is a place of art and culture, but also a place where locals can have a drink. It has also become a place for the whole of Utrecht, not just for Leidsche Rijn. ”

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Anke Klein during the signing on Berlin Square

We must take that with us; The corona crisis has left its mark on many of Klein’s activities. Portfolios such as education, culture and finance were particularly affected. “Of course I noticed that a lot. Fortunately, as a city, we have worked shoulder to shoulder with all partners. I have also had frequent contact with my colleagues in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam and discussed further support measures with The Hague. ”

Klein continues: “What I especially missed in the corona era goes to people, because that’s the beauty of local politics. I am a person who very much prefers to see people in person rather than online behind a computer. Although I must say about the latter that I have learned that one can have low-threshold contact via the computer with residents who prefer not to go to a room to discuss something in a group. As far as I am concerned, we should continue to offer that opportunity. “

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Anke Klein visits DOMunder


Then there are certain issues that Councilor Klein hopes will continue to be addressed in the future. Utrecht is a city that desperately needs all the square meters for housing and infrastructure. ” But I also think we need to keep an eye out for enough space for artists, studios, music rooms, creative meeting places and breeding grounds. We must also involve those places early in the area development process. ”

Another important point is the economic situation in Utrecht. At the moment, the budget is still fine, but the deficit can be increased reach 26 million euros in 2026† ”Utrecht municipality must do what is right and necessary for its inhabitants, and we must be financially capable of that. For several years, I have been discussing the municipal coffers with colleagues in the Ministry of the Interior, where a large part of the municipality’s income comes from. There is now too much uncertainty about how that fund will develop in the coming years. As a municipality, we therefore do not know what we can expect in a few years. This uncertainty is not something we want to sell to our residents. ”

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Councilor Anke Klein helps assemble the countdown window to Utrecht 900

After four years as a councilor, which is hard work, the question is what Klein should do in the coming period. “Well, so far, of course, I am still a councilor and will until the last moment do my best for the city and its inhabitants. It still requires my full attention. The work as a councilor is really hard, and it is not in my nature to keep very much free. “

Klein continues, “It’s all still pretty fresh now, it’s not because I’ve already figured out exactly what to do next.” In his last words, Klein adds: “When I think back on my time as councilor, I am so very happy with the way the Utrecht residents have opened up to me. I have worked really well with all the city professionals and residents. I am very grateful for that. This way, they were able to really share with me everything that happens. I’m really at home in Utrecht. ”

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