VVD Maastricht Student Candidates: Interview with Nicky Beckers (#5) and Guiseppe Noteborn (#6)
On the 17th of February 2018, Giovanni Stanga and Gaia Lisi, respectively the Head and the Co-Head of the UNSA Journal Committee, had the opportunity to interview Nicky Beckers and Guiseppe Noteborn, who are currently running for the local municipal elections and aim to secure more seats for the VVD in the City Council. During the interview, the topics that were discussed were the student housing crisis, the difficult co-habitation between locals and the students and in general the improvement of the well-being for the Maastricht’s population as a whole. Hereby you can find the thorough interview with the two #5 and #6 VVD candidates for the March elections!
How would you describe who you are? Nicky Beckers: It is very difficult to say. I am quite engaged in society and sometimes I feel even too much engaged, especially on certain topics such as student housing. In fact, as being born and raised in Maastricht and as a student at Maastricht University, I consider myself being part of both “worlds” and this way I can see, understand and be engaged in both. Guiseppe Noteborn: Being from here and being in contact with international students, I see myself as a European citizen. I went abroad myself. I speak English and Limburgs way more than Dutch. This way I feel like I am part of a new generation of Maastricht people. An interesting fact about myself is that I love humour and I believe that you need to keep some amount of humour in everything, especially to work smoothly together with other parties and individuals with different views from your own.
What do you study? Nicky Beckers: I am completing my Master in Econometrics at Maastricht University and I am working as a software developer as a side job. Guiseppe Noteborn: I am currently in my last year of bachelor’s degree in Financial Service Management in Eindhoven with just my thesis to hand in, and I plan to do my Master in European Studies at Maastricht University. In the meantime, I am also an account manager at an insurance company and active in different political associations.
What is the story that made you engage in politics? Nicky: In high school, I participated in the EYP regional selections. I had already been interested in politics before, but I particularly enjoyed this experience, especially for debating, putting your views forward and compromising. After this experience, I started to get more informed and soon after I became a member of the youth organisation of VVD and ultimately a member of VVD. Guiseppe: I love geography, history, everything about society. When I was 16, I felt like I knew everything, and I could change the world (laughs). Soon I joined a political party but I realised that it was not exactly reflecting my beliefs and political ideals. After a couple of months, I participated in a meeting of VVD and felt that it was the place for me. I have not stopped being involved in Maastricht politics since.
What are the political ideals and issues that led your political engagement? Nicky: I am very passionate about student housing and the proposal of creating environment zone in the city centre to ban non-eco-friendly cars. I believe it is a very costly measure to implement especially because research has shown that in five years the effect of the environment will be the same as before. As a city councillor, I am very engaged in this topic. Guiseppe: I’m a person that thinks that fairness is the most important thing. The thing that attracted me to VVD is that it stands for the belief that everyone has its own freedom as long as you don’t overstep another person’s freedom. The students, especially the international students coming here, are what motivates me the most. Some of the issues I feel passionate about are re-introducing the student parking facilities in Randwyck and the possibility for students living in a room to be informed better about how to obtain tax exemptions.
What is your opinion on the current administration in Maastricht?
Nicky: I think we have a good administration. We are in it ourselves. Things can always improve. You constantly need to make agreements and compromise, but in general, the administration is doing very well in the topics we agreed to in the coalition agreement. The only worrying aspect of this administration is that, except for VVD and D66, every party in the municipality stands for more restricting rules for student housing. But it is still good that we do not have to agree on everything in a coalition.
What would be the top priority in your agenda on day one if you were to be elected? Nicky: On day one after the elections, I would change the students’ housing system to make it fairer and suspend the environmental projects carried out in the area of Maastricht, which, has research demonstrated, can only bring about a limited impact. Guiseppe: I would disrupt the whole system and lift all the administrative rules on students’ housing. Maybe that’s a bit too much (laughs). Apart from that, I’d like to have the students’ populations well integrated and living peacefully together with the local people of Maastricht. A good starting point to achieve this is for me to preserve the parking facilities for students at Randwyck and lift all the weekend’s extra-charges on the Bike shed in front of the station. Uncontrolled parking of bikes and cars by the students, indeed, irritate the locals, who see their personal and living space being invaded.
What are you in your opinion the most viable solutions to bridge the gap between the locals and the students? Guiseppe: Parking facilities for students, since the local population does not want students’ cars or bikes in front of their houses, which I think it’s fair. Existing rules should be enforced to better regulate the cohabitation between these groups. The landlords should be made responsible for excessive noise, although of course further restrictions are not be imposed on students chance to rent houses and rooms at a reasonable price. Moreover, more objective measurements shall be taken to evaluate how noisy the sounds are. A sounds-track system has recently been installed at ProosD, as the neighbourhood surrounding the pub was constantly complaining about the noise. Now, I think that we should go that far, but we should consider this solution in certain borderline cases. Nicky: I believe that the main reason that causes this problem is the lack of communication between the locals and students, which causes frustration and anger among both of the groups involved when they have to interact with each other. In that regard, the Studentstaat programme has been carried out by Kaleido to facilitate the process of student’s integration in the local dynamics of the city. Additionally, a Neighbourhood Council could function as an administrative intermediator that would bring the whole population together and make different groups mediate with one another. Cultural, social and political projects shall be initiated to enable both of the groups to understand each other better. However, it’s very challenging to establish a dialogue between local people and the students, as they live in two different worlds, despite being in the same city.
In the light of the stabbing incidents that saw Syrian refugees involved, what is the VVD stance on the issue of immigration in Maastricht? Guiseppe: The immigration policies and competencies mainly rest upon the national government. As it is been rightly done in the past, we believe that language courses shall be offered for immigrants or refugees who want to stay in the Netherlands in the long-term. Language is an essential pre-requisite to finding a job here. Maastricht is a relatively safe city and immigration, unlike many parties like the PVV claim, did not exacerbate problems of security. Integration is to be a double-sided and bilateral process, as we also have to adapt ourselves to the newcomers, although the latter are self-responsible for what they make out of their lives here in the Netherlands. For example, I personally know a friend of mine that came from Nigeria when he was sixteen. Now he perfectly speaks Dutch and works as a financial adviser for a company.
What is your position regarding political and cultural centres, such as Mandril and LBB? Would you sell them or keep them ‘alive’? Nicky: We believe that places like these offer a valuable alternative for students culturally, politically and socially speaking. However, we believe that we should always operate within the boundaries of the law. Current water, electricity or heating (when it’s here), are all services to be paid to the municipality, as the people residing there and occupying these buildings benefit from this basic level of maintenance. To put it simply, if somebody that makes use of a public service has to pay for it. Therefore, it this does not happen, we believe that it would be right that these illegally occupied spaces should be sold to companies. There are a lot of cultural initiatives offered by the University, associations and the municipality, and there are also a lot of opportunities to access to subsidies for valuable and enriching projects organised by the students.