‘I feel like SP in heart and soul’

Until recently, Yvonne Hessel was the only councilor and party leader in SP Utrecht, but has decided to terminate her membership of SP. The group thus loses its only seat on the city council. After the summer holidays, in September, Hessel starts his own party: Utrecht Solidair. The board of the Utrecht branch of the SP said it had been surprised ‘by the sudden decision’ to terminate its membership. According to Hessel, her decision is not because of the principles that SP stands for, but because of the lack of a well-functioning team. We asked her why she stopped by SP and what her favorite place is in Utrecht.

Why did you leave SP?

“I am new to the city council, and I would like to get support from SP from people with experience. It happened minimally. A lot came against me and I got too little support and information. As a result, I went wrong a few times. I quickly rang the bell, including with the national government, but it was like dragging a dead horse. I thought it was just me, but found out that there has been a dormant ward in Utrecht for many years. Many good SP members have left or had to leave. I got into a conflict of conscience: I don’t want to hurt SP. I feel like a SP at heart and I want to represent the interests of the people. But if I just left, it still wouldn’t happen. This is not how an SP should be. There was only one solution for me. Now I can look for good employees. You can achieve a lot with a seat. Normally I am against seat grabbing because a seat belongs to the party, but I saw no other option.”

What will be your spearheads at Utrecht Solidair?

“I hope we get a fight that really stands with the Utrecht team. My agenda remains socialist. I will try to set up some kind of former SP action group for local actions. I think people are more willing to to shop, but then to things that are important to the residents themselves. One of the things that tops my list is the food bank. So much food and volunteers are provided, but space for this is almost impossible. In four years, every collection point in the food bank be a shop. It’s hard enough for people, they are often ashamed. You don’t need to emphasize that by pressing a bag or box in their hands. Let them go around on their own and bring the things they need for.”

Why did you want to enter politics?

“After my early retirement, I wanted to do something I really enjoy and where my passion lies. I have always followed all politics. In the city council, all my talents come together: the socialist, rights, meaning something for people and being critical.”

What is your favorite place in Utrecht?

“The bridge over the Zwarte Water in Lauwerecht. I was born on the Zwarte Water and grew up there. When I was about twelve years old, I also helped my father there with the SP’s first action in Utrecht. We were allowed to pick up stones from the street and throw them into the water. They started to dampen the water themselves because people had a lot of rats in the house because of the sloping side. In the end, that part was dampened by the municipality.”

Where can you relax in Utrecht?

“When I walk along the canal with my dog, Buddy. Along the way I enjoy the beautiful old trees.”

Where can you enjoy culinary delights in Utrecht?

“On Domplein by Restaurant LOOF. The dishes are delicious and beautifully presented. The service is also very attentive. At Domplein I feel in the heart of Utrecht. LOOF is next to my old high school, where the Theaterschool Utrecht is now.”

Where do you experience the best night out in Utrecht?

“I don’t have a fixed place for that, but I like to go to the Louis Hartlooper Complex, for example. I also love dancing at 40UP in Tivoli.”

Who is your favorite Utrechter?

“It’s Cees Grimbergen. I only recently found out that he lives in Utrecht. I think he is a great investigative journalist who continues to expose injustice. His TV series, such as Zwarte Zwanen and Hollandse Zaken, are indispensable. He can make complex issues understandable in an extremely honest way. Jos Stelling is also one of my favorite Utrechters. He makes an unprecedented contribution to visual culture in Utrecht without a single cent of subsidy.”

Utrecht is…

“… unique with its historic city center and friendly atmosphere.”


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