Monday, May 15, 2006
No nudist beach at Westende
Plans for a nudist beach in the West Flemish coastal resort of Westende have been scrapped. The town council of Middelkerke was divided, but eventually rejected the project with 13 votes against and 12 votes in favour.
At present, Bredene (near Ostend) boasts the only nudist beach along the Belgian coast.
Members of the local liberal party (VLD) in Middelkerke had launched the idea to have a second nudist beach in Westende last year, as they believed it would provide a boost for the local economy.
They hoped to open the nudist beach on the site of Camping Cosmos, a caravan site that had to close as a result of planning restrictions.
The site is located near the sand dunes of Westende. It is a secluded area where nudists should be safe from peeping Toms.
"Not the perfect location"
The Flemish liberals are the biggest party in the local council of Middelkerke.
They had the backing of two members of the opposition, but that was not enough as Christian democrats and socialists voted against.
Liliane Pylyser of the Christian democrats said that Westende is not the ideal location for a nudist beach, as "Westende has built a reputation as the ideal destination for young families with children."
Friday, May 12, 2006
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The Brugge mayor has ordered the 'skinhead' café De Kastelein to shut down following a suspected racist bashing last weekend.
Mayor Patrick Moenaert took the decision after consulting with police and the owner of the café, located on the Maalsesteenweg.
Two men were assaulted on Saturday night in the vicinity of the De Kastelein. One of the victims, a 50-year-old black Frenchman, is still in a coma.
His 37-year-old friend suffered broken bones and memory loss.
He claims the attack was racially motivated because the culprits did not steal the EUR 200 the victims were jointly carrying at the time.
"Those skinheads didn't want money. They wanted to get us because my friend has the wrong colour," he said.
Five suspects were later arrested inside the café, a popular haunt for skinheads, three of whom have since been remanded in custody.
And after returning from holiday, Moenaert entered into talks with the café owner on Wednesday.
The mayor's spokesman said the owner agreed to close the café until the end of May to maintain public order.
New discussions will be held at the end of May between the owner, mayor and police. A decision on the possible re-opening of the café will be made at that time.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
For the first time in Belgium a smoker has been convicted on charges of smoking in a public building.
The defendant, a gentleman from Deinze (East Flanders), lit up in the Youth Courthouse in Ghent.
When questioned about what he was doing the guy turned aggressive and refused to put out his cigarette.
Because he refused an out-of-court settlement, the smoker was taken to court.
The judge imposed a 143 euro fine and recommended that the defendant stop smoking.
In Belgium smoking in public buildings can result in a fine of up to 1,650 euros and a two-year prison sentence.
The Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt has inaugurated a monument in honour of American soldiers who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. This battle in eastern Belgium is seen as one of the turning points of the Second World War in Europe.
The new memorial erected by Belgium and Luxembourg is located at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt travelled to the United States especially to attend the inauguration.
Arlington National Cemetery is the second largest military cemetery in the United States.
At the inauguration ceremony the Prime Minister underlined the strong ties between the United States and Europe, a theme that Mr Verhofstadt has stressed repeatedly in recent months.
US veterans present were pleased that the Belgian leader had decided to attend in person.
Belgian police had a hard time managing traffic flows to a Shell filling station at the Heizel (Brussels) on Wednesday morning.
The oil company was offering motorists free petrol (gas) in order to promote its new network of unmanned filling stations.
Motorists were able to fill up for free between 11 and 12 o'clock.
The company wanted to highlight lower prices at unmanned filling stations. Scores of motorists spent several hours queuing up in order to fill their tank for free.
The oil company is launching similar give away promotions across Belgium in the next few days.
Petrol costs around 1.30 euros/litre in Belgium at the minute.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
A Greek EU public servant was arrested in Brussels on Thursday for allegedly taking photos up the skirts of unsuspecting girls.
The man's actions were spotted by a female cashier in the shopping centre City II. He was also filmed by security cameras.
The incident took place in the Veritas shop, where a cashier noticed a man keeping a close eye on a 16-year-old girl in the lingerie department.
The man allegedly bent down and took a photo. He then allegedly went down on his knees behind the girl and took more photos under her skirt.
The cashier informed security, who detained the man until police arrived.
Identified as a 36-year-old man of Greek nationality working for the EU in Brussels, the suspect has reportedly confessed his actions.
Police also found various photos on the man's camera and he had a similar collection of photos stored on his computer at work.
The man has been charged with public indecency and has been remanded in custody.
May 13th sees the fourth Zinneke Parade. The parade, which was organised for the first time when Brussels was European City of Culture in the year 2002, draws its name from the Brussels dialect word for a mongrel dog.
The organisers chose the name as it is not only understood by speakers of both French and Dutch, but also reflects the great mix and diversity of the city's population.
Organisations from all over Brussels have been working on costumes, dance routines and other forms of artistic expression in preparation for the bi-annual event.
The organisers say that the aim of the Zinneke Parade is to help combat the increasing disillusionment and social alienation that is often present in Europe's large cities.
4,000 participants, 200,000 spectators
Some 4000 people will be taking part in the parade, which is the culmination of two years of work by people from neighbourhoods throughout Brussels.
They will set off from one of the four starting points located in Schaarbeek, Elsene, Sint-Jans Molenbeek and Anderlecht.
The four groups will all come together in the city centre. The organisers estimate that some 200,000 will watch the parade as it makes its way through the city.
The price of building plots in Flanders went up by some 20% last year. Meanwhile, house prices in Flanders went up by an average of 16% and more than doubled in some parts of Brussels.
The prise rises are the biggest since the 1970's.
Low interest rates and the banks' willingness to allow home buyers to stagger their mortgage repayments over a much longer period than was previously the case are both cited as causes of the increas
Filip Jansen from the study bureau Stadium told the VRT that the price rises are to blame on people being allowed to lend more.
"Everyone dreams of being able to buy a home that is just above their budget".
"If people are able to lend more by staggering their repayments over a longer period, they will be able to pay more for a home".
The prices adapt to the new market conditions and rise accordingly.
Houses in the Brussels districts of Schaarbeek, Sint-Joost-ten-Node, Etterbeek and Elsene have doubled in the space of a year.
The districts are in the East of the city and not too far from the European institutions.
Nevertheless, house prices there are still cheaper than in the affluent South Brussels suburbs of Ukkel, Watermaal-Bosvoorde, Oudergem and Sint-Pieters Woluwe.