Eindhoven introduces Brainport Balance Check

2.5 billion euros will be invested in Brainport through operation Beethoven. And that is sorely needed: the region is already under strain; how will it fare with even more growth? GroenLinks has submitted a motion in the Eindhoven municipal council that is met with widespread support: the Brainport Balance Check. The idea is to annually assess the pressure on facilities and social cohesion.

photo Sommart / iStock

Cursor spoke with GroenLinks faction chair Eva de Bruijn shortly before the capital injection to retain the high-tech industry in the region was officially announced. Therefore, no specific questions were asked about this, but the growth of the region has been a topic of discussion for quite some time and the motion had also been submitted well before the capital injection.

In any case, De Bruijn is not opposed to the high-tech industry in the region. “It’s the economy of the future, but the growth is putting the region under strain. I see people struggling to find an affordable home, a school or a general practitioner. And there is still a gap in the city between those who greatly benefit from the economic growth and those who mostly experience its drawbacks in the region.”

Brainport etiquette

“The Balance Check is a means of monitoring whether the growth – which will now accelerate further – is still in balance with climate, broad prosperity and facilities.” If the outcome shows that this is not the case, De Bruijn sees some specific levers for potential adjustment.

“Take for example the public-private funds in which companies help pay for housing construction in the region. As a municipality, we need to ensure that such housing is not just available to employees of these large companies – fortunately, the companies themselves share this view.”

“I want to work toward a Brainport etiquette: the idea that as a company in the Brainport region, you are a socially responsible employer and what that means in concrete terms.” According to De Bruijn, this would include a good salary – also for catering and cleaning staff in particular – , preventive care to prevent employee debt and balance in facilities as a condition for growth.

Urban pressure cooker

Eva de Bruijn is pleased with the broad support in the council: “Many parties share our wish for more control. We want to avoid becoming an urban pressure cooker. We need to identify the problem areas in time and make choices in order to course-correct. Eindhoven is simply out of balance right now in terms of housing, facilities and social cohesion.”

No more boxy monstrosities

De Bruijn believes that as a municipality, you can also do more than just build new houses or social institutions. “There is a shortage of space, of personnel. That requires decisions, and as a municipality you can influence those. You can choose not to allow boxy monstrosities like data centers or distribution warehouses in your municipality. Or to phase out the most polluting and nuisance-causing companies in industrial areas, such as the Hurk, over time, leaving more space for social and green businesses, housing and facilities.”

“To move away from unwanted industry, you can choose to provide targeted retraining for the unemployed, for example, from rapid delivery driver to bus driver. That is in line with the exclusion of large distribution centers and reduces the shortage of drivers in public transport, an important community service.”

According to De Bruijn, it is also important to look beyond the “overall numbers” in the annual check. “The average income in Eindhoven may be quite high, but that doesn’t say much about the gap between Eindhoven residents. And the school density may be high, but if they’re all full, that’s of no use. We hope to flesh out the Balance Check in the coming months so that we have more to discuss during the next meeting.”

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