30 - Municipality: independent for half a century, 1962 - 2012

In seventy years, the Noordoostpolder has developed from a largely agricultural region into a municipality with many facilities and with a broad range of employment opportunities. The Noordoostpolder was designed for the cyclist, while now virtually everyone uses a car. The administration of the Noordoostpolder municipality is not static, either: from its early internal goals of fostering development to being externally oriented, actively searching for new activities in a region that still has space. 

From Polder committee to municipal council

After the first council elections in May (see also pane 28), the first municipal council was installed on 2 July 1962 by the minister of Internal Affairs mr. E.H. Toxopeus In his speech, the minister reported that the Noordoostpolder is the 977th municipality of the Netherlands in population count, but the largest in terms of surface area. He emphasised to those present that the Noordoostpolder had to 'fit inside the mosaic of Dutch municipalities'.

 

vlnr: F.M. van Panthaleon baron van Eck – VVD (5 juli 1962 – 1 februari 1973) Mr. G. Loopstra – VVD (16 maart 1973 – 1 augustus 1980)  Drs. M.A.J. Knip -VVD (1 februari 1989 – 26 februari 1998)  Mr. W.L.F.C. ridder van Rappard -VVD (16 september 1998 – april 2010) A. van der Werff - CDA (mei 2010 - heden)vlnr: F.M. van Panthaleon baron van Eck – VVD (5 juli 1962 – 1 februari 1973) Mr. G. Loopstra – VVD (16 maart 1973 – 1 augustus 1980) Drs. M.A.J. Knip -VVD (1 februari 1989 – 26 februari 1998) Mr. W.L.F.C. ridder van Rappard -VVD (16 september 1998 – april 2010) A. van der Werff - CDA (mei 2010 - heden)

from left to right: F.M. van Panthaleon baron of Eck – VVD (5 July 1962 – 1 February 1973) Mr. G. Loopstra – VVD (16 March 1973 – 1 August 1980) Drs. M.A.J. Knip -VVD (1 February 1989 – 26 February 1998) Mr. W.L.F.C. ridder van Rappard -VVD (16 September 1998 – April 2010) A. van der Werff - CDA (May 2010 - current)

Three councillors were appointed: W.G. de Feyter (protestant-Christian), J.W.M. van der Noort (KVP) and F. Polder (PvdA). All three were prior members of the Polder committee. The municipal board was complete as of 5 July 962, with the appointment of mayor F.M. van Panthaleon baron of Eck. Surprisingly, given how the council was predominantly Christian, he was a VVD member. There was however little animosity when the mayor was installed.

Official visit of members of the Provincial Executives of Overijssel to the Noordoostpolder. The ensemble at the base of the Poldertoren on De Deel, 1962.
Official visit of members of the Provincial Executives of Overijssel to the Noordoostpolder. The ensemble at the base of the Poldertoren on De Deel, 1962.

From agriculture to broad industriousness 

From the onset, the municipal board was facing large challenges. Not only was there the need for a well-functioning municipal body, there were some substantive issues, too. The municipality quickly admitted that it was pivotal that they prevented the relatively large group of young people from leaving the Noordoostpolder. This was partly to keep all the facilities running: if young people move out, schools, sports clubs and other facilities will feel the pressure. Twenty years after the reclamation, the Noordoostpolder as the granary of the Netherlands was far from being the large and stable agricultural employer as was envisioned. This was mostly due to the far-reaching mechanisation and globalisation in agriculture.

Aerial picture Emmeloord 1952.
Aerial picture Emmeloord 1952.

Since 1962, jobs in the agricultural industry decreased by one-hundred per year. The municipal board chose Emmeloord as the main location to attract new business: Emmeloord transitioned from an agricultural hub to an industry hub, and later into a service-provision hub as well. New business activity arose. The banking world, the middle-class, the Waterloopkundig Laboratorium and the National Aerospace Laboratory (see also pane 23) became large employers.

The municipality constructed more company terrains and focused on attracting new small and medium-sized enterprises. Now, in the 21st century, the agricultural industry remains the largest employer: there are nearly four-thousand people working for over one-thousand companies, with an increasing number of migrant workers. There are also nearly four thousand people working in both retail and healthcare. Large employers in 2011 include: Zorggroep Oude en Nieuwe Land, Talmahof and Staffing Agency Level One. 

Aerial picture Emmeloord 2005, important hub for new business.Aerial picture Emmeloord 2005, important hub for new business.

Better accessibility

With the development of a new municipality comes a modern infrastructure. Bicycle paths were constructed, roads were improved. Since its inception, the Noordoostpolder has been connected to Friesland and Overijssel through local roads. Up to 1970, the connection to the west was via Zwolle-Amersfoort. The arrival of the Ketelbrug bridge changed this. The further completion of the A6 speedway and the development of Almere and Lelystad saw a strong increase of commuter traffic towards the Randstad. For the Noordoostpolder economy, this commuter traffic has become increasingly important. In 2007, 38% of the working population commuted nearly every day. In light of this, the Ketelbrug bridge is indispensable. The planned upgrade for the N50 will also constitute an important improvement to Noordoostpolder accessibility. A firm accessway into the Northern Netherlands is also established with the A6.

Intersection Emmeloord A6 N50 Vogelkop. 2011.
Intersection Emmeloord A6 N50 Vogelkop. 2011.

Zuiderzeelijn

Since the times of draining the Noordoostpolder, the Zuiderzeelijn was an important part of how the engineers envisioned the main infrastructure. In 1998, the plans were bolstered because the cabinet and the northern provinces made agreements in the 'Langmanakkoord' about how to stimulate Northern economic development The Zuiderzeelijn would play a pivotal role in this.

To make this new railway happen, a project organisation was established in which the Noordoostpolder was an active player from the onset. However, support for the idea of the Zuiderzeelijn slowly deteriorated. 

Indicative route Zuiderzeelijn, 2006.Indicative route Zuiderzeelijn, 2006.In a bid to turn the tide, in 2006, several buses departed from the North via Emmeloord towards The Hague. At the square in front of the parliamentary building, members of Parliament were presented with a petition in favour of the Zuiderzeelijn construction. But to no avail: following nine years of study, the lights went out for the Zuiderzeelijn in November of 2007.

The municipal council did push towards a partial construction: extending the railway from Lelystad to Emmeloord. Furthermore, the municipality demanded compensation for the fact the Zuiderzeelijn was discontinued. The cabinet responded with an intent to invest two billion euro in various economical projects in the northern province, the so-called Transition sums. Noordoostpolder successfully claimed a part of that money, with accessibility as the number one priority.

In 2010, mayor Van der Werff signed the covenant that arranged the distribution of these sums. The Government made availalbe € 50 million for Northern Flevoland (Transition sums). This budget is complemented by money from the province and the Urk and Noordoostpolder municipalities: 26 million euro goes towards upgrading the N50 between Ens and Ramspol, including the Ramspolbrug bridge. A related project, which too is of influence on the accessibility of Emmeloord, is the widening of the N50 between Ens and Emmeloord. In addition, the municipality is putting pressure on the Government to improve the Ramspolbrug-Hattemerbroek route. 

 Official photo impression of the future windmill park on both sides of the western dike of the Noordoostpolder, 2011.Official photo impression of the future windmill park on both sides of the western dike of the Noordoostpolder, 2011.

Various other large projects been underway for the Noordoostpolder inhabitants. The windmill park west of the polder has finally started construction in 2012 after twenty years of preparation. The project exists in part because the municipal board strongly favoured a linear installation instead of solitary windmills. The year 2012 also marked the year where construction of De Deel finally started, as a conclusive part to the expansion and modernisation of Emmeloord-Centre. Both profound projects have large groups of people in favour or against. 

The 9-holes golf course, built on a former landfill, is the highest 'left'-course beneath sea level. Golf club Emmeloord received the Noordoostpolder promotional award 2010.
The 9-holes golf course, built on a former landfill, is the highest 'left'-course beneath sea level. Golf club Emmeloord received the Noordoostpolder promotional award 2010.

Less controversial is the development of a large leisure project between Emmeloord and the Kuinderbos forest, including a golf course, bathing lake, nature reserve and residential buildings. Especially striking is the growth of greenhouse horticulture near Ens and especially near Luttelgeest.

 In its anniversary year of 2012, the Noordoostpolder municipality is spicing up its image. Mayor Aucke van der Werff illustrated this new zest with a brightly coloured carpet in the renovated council hall . See also "Gemeenteraad Noordoostpolder Eerste Webcast, 2011".In its anniversary year of 2012, the Noordoostpolder municipality is spicing up its image. Mayor Aucke van der Werff illustrated this new zest with a brightly coloured carpet in the renovated council hall . See also "Gemeenteraad Noordoostpolder Eerste Webcast, 2011".

And now?

The Noordoostpolder is not sitting still. Trusting in the potential of its own area, 2012 marks the year of a focus on area branding in the widest sense of the word; aimed at living, working and leisure. Especially because it is by now clear that attracting new business does not automatically mean new residents. People are increasingly willing to commute for work. The new slogan for the area branding is: Extraordinary Noordoostpolder. For this, the municipality is working with major parties in the Noordoostpolder.