The week in brief: 16 April


Beggars on the streets of Brussels, a gift of one square metre and the rest of the week's headlines

An overview of the week’s news

Police issued fines to more than 200 drivers who were filming an accident on the E40 motorway between Brussels and Leuven last week. Taking photos or videos while driving is illegal, as it increases the delays caused by traffic jams, and can even contribute to additional accidents. The drivers can expect a fine of €110.

The citizens of Mechelen will be invited to apply for a gift of one square metre each next year, in a project designed to make people think about the use of public space. The organisers, theatre group Arsenaal/Lazarus, have received two hectares – 20,000 square metres – to distribute to the population. Those who present successful proposals for the use of the land will then have to negotiate how to share or gift the parcel.

Dealing with beggars on the streets of Brussels is a priority for the city’s prosecutor’s office, a spokesperson said. The office was replying to recent criticisms from some of the capital’s politicians that the authorities were failing to tackle the growing numbers of beggars. The prosecutors have appointed magistrates to look into the problem, including the involvement of minors in begging, the spokesperson said.

Fewer women would require chemotherapy after surgery for breast cancer if an expensive test were to be reimbursed, according to Dr Patrick Neven, a cancer specialist at Leuven University Hospital. The post-operative test costs €3,000 but offers an indication whether chemotherapy is necessary. The test could spare about 1,000 women a year in Belgium from the ordeal of chemotherapy, not to mention the savings in therapy costs.

The well-known Café Kafka on Visverkopersstraat in the centre of Brussels is looking for a new manager. The current licensee, who rescued the cafe from bankruptcy in 2012, wants to withdraw for personal reasons. The bar will remain open until new management can take over. The Kafka is owned by drinks wholesaler HLS, but the selection procedure will be in the hands of the current manager.

The federal government’s crisis centre is preparing measures to combat the threat of a terrorist attack using drones, a spokesperson from the home affairs ministry said. Although there is no concrete evidence terrorists are preparing such an attack, the authorities are aware such a possibility exists. “We have to be prepared for every scenario,” the spokesperson said.

A publicaly funded day-care centre in Aalst has come in for criticism after it removed all foodstuffs containing pork from the children’s menu. Reports in the press claimed the decision was based on pressure from Muslim parents, but local councillor Iwein De Coninck said it was for purely practical reasons, after a chef was off sick and the staff were unable to cope with special meals. De Coninck did say that the centre should have discussed the decision with the council first.

The amount patients must pay for a visit to the dentist – the remgeld – will remain unchanged in 2017, following an agreement between dentists’ organisations and the state medical insurance agency Riziv. In 2018, the charge for children will remain the same, as will preventative treatments. Dental care for cancer patients will be more fully reimbursed.

Motoring assistance organisations VAB and Touring have complained about the federal traffic police’s new policy to tow stalled cars with the Fast truck scheme, even if the driver is a member of one of the two organisations, and help is already on its way. Drivers are later faced with bills for the unwanted service, a Touring spokesperson said.

Oscare, the Flemish after-care centre for burns victims, plans to launch a campaign this summer to convince young people not to charge phones and other devices while they are asleep. Batteries can easily overheat, the organisation said. 

The Pukkelpop music festival has applied for a permanent environmental permit to replace the annual permit it has received since 1991. The change is a result of an agreement with the Flemish government last year. The new permit would theoretically allow a second simultaneous event, but a spokesperson said there are no current plans to stage another event.

Four peregrine falcon chicks expected at three locations in Brussels have all hatched. The chicks – from a total of 12 eggs in the three nests – were born within hours of each other, in the tower of the Brussels Cathedral, in the tower of the Sint-Job church in Ukkel and in the town hall of Sint-Pieters-Woluwe. The remaining eggs will hatch soon.

Police in the Overijse-Hoeilaart zone in Flemish Brabant plan to buy 10 new automatic number plate recognition cameras (ANPR) this year, after they were used to solve 117 crimes and other incidents in the first three months of the year. ANPR was used to link vehicles to burglaries in Halle and Overijse, among other crimes.

Photo: A park in Mechelen
© Visit Flanders/Flickr