Host Nation Update, Jan.16, 2024
How Böblingen’s Lord Mayor Belz wants to make Böblingen more social, climate-neutral and digital
At the New Year’s reception in the Congress Hall, Böblingen’s Lord Mayor Stefan Belz formulates ever more clearly where he wants to take the city in his sixth year in office, and within this context, he does not exclude the heated discussions from 2023.
Likewise, Sindelfingen and Holzgerlingen, Böblingen traditionally, too, uses the New Year’s Reception for a local political rally. Around 1,000 citizens from Böblingen and Dagersheim came to the congress hall to listen to his NY’s speech with handshakes and small talk. As head of the town, Stefan Belz addressed the three most important focal points of his work. After proclaiming Böblingen a Smart City last year, this year Belz named digitalization as just one of the three pillars that will carry the city into the future: “Our future is social, climate-neutral and digital.”
There are still big problems to be solved; for example, social issues such as childcare. Around 500 children in Böblingen currently do not have access to it. The reason: a lack of staff. Around 50 childcare positions were unfilled in the summer. Meanwhile, the city is busy building new daycare centers, however, the staff shortage remains. “Keep on recruiting and training nursery and schoolteachers,” is how Belz formulated the administration’s response. There are already 15 foreign specialists working in Böblingen and 70 training places. The second Herculean task in the social sector continues to be the accommodation of refugees. At the end of the year, the city estimated the number of residents in follow-up accommodation at around 660, with an upward trend. In fact, 2023 was the year with the highest influx of refugees since statistics began in 2016. By far the most refugees came from Ukraine, with 173 people arriving in the summer. This is keeping the pressure on the housing market high, which is why the city is pushing ahead with this on the IBM site and the Post Tower. Climate neutrality Böblingen wants to be climate neutral on paper by 2035. A lofty goal that is to be achieved with a twelve-point plan. At this point, Belz tested his audience and asked who in the room was committed to climate protection through donations or voluntary work? Hardly a quarter of the hands went up. A municipal heating plan, which Böblingen will present at an information event in the first half of the year and which the municipal council will then adopt, is intended to bring the cities closer to the goal of climate neutrality. When it comes to heating, people in Böblingen quickly think of district heating, which is often cited in the city as an example of an ecological form of heating, but which is just as much a subject of debate. Belz was pleased “that a new heat supply contract could be concluded with the residual waste incineration plant before Christmas.” At the same time, however, he complained that there had previously been a lot of friction between the municipal utilities, waste incineration and representatives of the IG Fernwärme trade union, without naming them specifically. As with the major dispute in 2017 and 2018, Belz is trying to moderate the dispute and pacify it as far as possible: “That’s why I’ve issued an invitation to a round table, so that we can talk to each other and not about each other. “In addition to heat planning, the city wants to give the inter-municipal wind farm above Diezenhalde a further boost: “A current wind turbine can supply around 10,000 people with renewable electricity,” he said, announcing an initial information event in the spring. The expansion of climate-friendly mobility is also continuing randomly selected citizens are to provide information on their means of transportation in order to support the city’s planning and set priorities. While Belz put digitalization at the forefront last year, he rounded off his speech with it this year: The hospital site in Bunsenstrasse is to become an innovation campus with a focus on medical technology and a new building dedicated to artificial intelligence is to be built at the software center. The networks around the AI Express in the Eisenmann area and the Herman Hollerith Center are to be further expanded. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 14, 2024)
New Year’s reception in the Sindelfingen town hall – Sindelfingen on the upswing
After Sindelfingen’s Lord Mayor Bernd Vöhringer shook hands, the two chimney sweeps Gunther Schülzle and Marika Stark gave each of the almost 900 visitors a lucky penny. Vöhringer presented himself in the Stadthalle as an optimistic person in an “attractive and active city, with great people and the opportunity to create the future together”. During Vöhringer’s review of the municipal projects, visitors learned that the path to this attractive city can sometimes be arduous, even if the 320 million euros in business tax that Sindelfingen received last year in 2023 had leveled the hurdles somewhat. This was the best result Sindelfingen has ever achieved, even higher than in the record year of 2022, and Vöhringer did not fail to thank Mercedes-Benz Works Council member Ergun Lümali and Production Manager Michael Bauer for this to the applause of the audience. Sindelfingen has set aside around 50 million euros in special funds for the schools. This will be used to build an elementary school at Rappenbaum, including a teaching pool, to expand the elementary school in Maichingen and Hinterweil and to provide the Goldberg community school with additional rooms for childcare.
The new swimming center could cost twice as much as the schools, namely 100 million euros. Vöhringer received plenty of applause, not only when he announced a new cleanliness campaign. He also praised the work of the many volunteers, such as the volunteer fire department, the Red Cross, the technical relief organization and numerous other associations. The representatives of the American Armed Forces, Brigadier General Geoff Kent and Colonel Kirk Alexander also received applause. Democracy does not only need to be defended by military, but also politically, said Mr. Vöhringer, who called on the citizens to stand up for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, quoting Friedrich Ebert: “Democracy needs democrats.” (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 14, 2024)
Weather in Baden-Württemberg – When will it get warmer again?
Marco Puckert from the German Weather Service (DWD) in Stuttgart sees some factors that point to milder weather. “The coming weekend will still be changeable, but then it will gradually become milder.” However, this does not mean that spring is on its way. Forecasts for more than a few days are limited to trends, so a reliable forecast is not possible. “But,” says Puckert, “I definitely see a trend towards milder, if not warmer, weather.” For Wednesday morning, however, Puckert is still warning of black ice. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Jan 15)