The week in brief: 14 August


New signs on motorways, prison archives threatened with mould and the rest of the week's headlines

An overview of the week's news

Flemish motorways are being equipped with new distance signs that offer a clearer indication of a driver’s position on the road, which will help emergency and other services to locate vehicles. The new signs were inaugurated last week by mobility minister Ben Weyts on the E313 in Limburg.

Four months after the introduction of a new traffic plan in Ghent, Google Maps has not caught up with developments, it was reported following a number of incidents involving foreigners driving in the city centre. The city has delivered details of the new system to providers of GPS services.

Following news that the Brussels Justice Palace archives are under threat from an infestation of mould, it was announced that the archives of the prisons of Vorst and Sint-Gillis are also affected. The problem has also been reported by prisons in Antwerp, Merksplas, Wortel, Bruges and Dendermonde, minister Koen Geens said.

Federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon has issued an order governing the use of drones in public spaces. Drones will now require a licence issued in advance from the air traffic directorate of the ministry, which will take into account evaluations carried out by municipal services.

Dutch media entrepreneur John De Mol and is company Talpa have decided to drop an attempt to take over Telegraaf Media Groep (TMG), owners of various enterprises including the Netherlands’ biggest daily, De Telegraaf. De Mol, who continues to hold 29% of TMG, was in competition with Flemish media group Mediahuis, publishers of De Standaard and Flanders Today, which has obtained a majority holding.

Holidaymakers intending to return to Brussels Airport from Lanzarote and Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands last week finally took off after a 42-hour delay. TUI airlines blamed the delays on a lack of spare parts to carry out repairs to the aircraft on the runway. Passengers are being offered €400 in compensation.

Telecoms giant Proximus has announced a roll-out of its latest mobile data system, which it calls 4.5G, in Antwerp and Ghent. It offers faster internet speeds than 4G, but the new rating will not be available for the time being in Brussels because of limits on GSM antennas due to suspected health risks.

Flemish energy minister Bart Tommelein fractured his heel last week while on holiday in the Dordogne area of France. Tommelein fell on a staircase, he reported on Instagram, and must undergo surgery later this month. He will be on crutches for several weeks thereafter.

Dutch king Willem-Alexander and queen Maxima will not be attending the Pukkelpop music festival in Hasselt this month as expected, despite an event in their honour, as they will be taking part in a clog-painting event with their children.

Belgium’s apple industry will only produce one-third of the normal harvest this year, as a result of the late spring frost, the Flemish department for agriculture and fisheries told an international congress in Spain. Pear crops, meanwhile, can expect to be down by 7%.

Former Red Devil Anthony Vanden Borre has announced his retirement at the age of 29, citing mental and physical exhaustion. Vanden Borre had already called off his contract with Anderlecht earlier this year after 13 seasons but had signed to play with TP Mazembe in the Congo in the spring. Those contracts are monthly, and he has declined to continue.

The iBike chain of bike shops in the Antwerp area, which sells and repairs bicycles, has announced that it will not service bikes bought in supermarket chains, including Decathlon. Owner Marc Groven said that priority will be given to customers who bought bikes in one of his shops, but legal experts said a ban on certain sales points was not defensible.

Belgians are living longer, according to new figures released by the federal government’s statistics department. In 2016, the average age of death was 81.4 years, continuing the trend of adding about two months per average every year over the last 20 years. The average lifespan for women in 2016 was 83.8 years and for men 79 years.

Organisers of the Tomorrowland dance festival had to pick up 25 tonnes of used camping material left at the DreamVille camping area following the end of the festival on 30 July. Bins at the festival collected 480 tonnes of rubbish and 15 tonnes of sorted plastic waste.

Melanie C, otherwise known as Sporty Spice, has been announced as a headliner at the Night of the Proms this November in Antwerp and Hasselt, together with fellow British singer Joss Stone. From the Belgian side, the bill also includes Isabelle A.

Photo courtesy Stad Gent