Putting citizens first

Cecilia Lonning-Skovgaard, mayoral candidate for the Liberal Party (Venstre), argues the time has come for Copenhagen to move toward the right wing

Venstre is running on a platform called “Copenhagen of the future”, which presents a vision for Copenhagen based on sustaining the green agenda and the attractiveness of the city, while also emphasizing that it must be a city with everyday liveability and a city that puts citizens first. This requires that we address a number of challenges currently facing our city.

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Stronger public schools
Our schools are not well suited to challenging the brightest students or to educating less gifted students. Up to a quarter of students currently leave our schools unable to read and write. We find that unacceptable, so we want to send a clear signal to the Copenhagen schools with inspiration from the “Failing Schools” initiative in London.

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We will give these schools five years to turn around and come up to standard with other Copenhagen schools. If they do not succeed, we will close the school and reboot it with new management, a new profile and new content.

More Copenhageners in work
Copenhagen currently has 30,000 residents receiving  unemployment benefits, which is far too many given that we are in the midst of a financial boom. There are many unskilled jobs in the Copenhagen service sector that could be filled by people who have been out of work for many years, but that are currently being filled by Swedes and Poles.

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We will increase demands on citizens who are outside the labour market by reducing benefits or increasing the use of utility jobs, for example. We should bear in mind that every time we get 10 cash benefit recipients into jobs, the municipality saves two million kroner, which corresponds to the salaries of four schoolteachers or police officers. There is no doubt what we would prefer to spend money on.

Mobility – for cars, bikes and pedestrians
Copenhagen must be a cohesive city with space for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Families with cars as well as commercial vehicles must be able to move around downtown. We wish to prioritize the development of the city’s road network as well as the bicycle paths.

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Specifically, we want to improve accessibility by utilizing intelligent traffic management and by enhancing supervision of troublesome roadwork and construction issues. We support plans for a harbour tunnel and oppose any steps to close major roads and streets that are crucial to a well-functioning and coherent road network in Copenhagen.

Confrontation with ghettos and parallel societies
A recent assessment by the city administration identified 16 areas in Copenhagen as marginalised, which corresponds to around one third of the city. This is probably an exaggeration, but it is beyond question that the city has major issues with ghettos and parallel societies. Areas like Tingbjerg, Mjølnerparken and Urbanplanen continue to be characterized by high unemployment, unsafe streets and gang activities, despite hundreds of millions of kroner spent on “holistic boosts” and “area plans”. This we cannot and should not tolerate. We need to tackle this issue head-on by channelling funding for ghetto areas solely into labour activities and by allowing tenants in the social ghetto housing to buy their apartments through housing cooperatives (andelsbasis). This will allow them to benefit from the housing market’s upside, and ultimately grant them a way out of the ghettos.

A green city
We want a city with better air quality and less noise pollution. To achieve this, we support plans for a harbour tunnel, which will improve traffic and reduce emissions from idling. We also want to promote technological solutions for reducing air pollution, such as CO2-absorbing asphalt and retrofitted NOx filters. We wish to set up local funding to help citizens with old and highly polluting wood-burning stoves to exchange these for newer and less polluting models. And we must reduce noise pollution by making noise-reducing asphalt mandatory and by setting up noise shields where necessary. Finally, we will continue to invest in climate protection initiatives, while making sure that taxpayers are not asked to pay a disproportionally high share of the bill.

Allez les Bleus
To address these challenges – and to speak with a sufficiently “loud” voice – we need a strong election result for the right-wing (or Blue) parties. We care about Copenhagen and its citizens. We present specific solutions to issues that concern ordinary citizens of Copenhagen. And we have the energy, the courage and the wit to challenge the long-dominant Social Democratic majority. Together, we will form a stronger and even more sustainable city. Thank you for your time and attention – we hope for your support on November 21. M


By Cecilia Lonning- Skovgaard

Cecilia Lonning-Skovgaard is the mayoral candidate for the Liberal Party (Venstre), the leading right-wing opposition party. Lonning-Skovgaard has represented Venstre on the City Council since 2005, has a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University, and also works as a Senior Director at Dong Energy

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