– Unheard of – NRK Norway – Overview of news from different regions of the country

– Sensational and unheard of! Local democracy should not be given the bluff in small towns and only decisions made in big cities should be respected, Heidi Greni, long-time parliamentary representative of the Center Party and municipal political spokesperson, told NRK.

Heidi Greni of the Center Party takes a hard line against the mayors of the eight large municipalities who have backtracked against the government.

Photo: Vidar Ruud / scanpix NTB

– This is the prelude to this affair which concerns the overcoming of local democracy in Søgne and Songdalen. When the mayor of Bærum speaks of the government acting disrespectfully, it is on the contrary the previous government which behaved in this way when the two municipalities were forcibly merged with Kristiansand, she continues.

Earlier in the day, political leaders entered the so-called the metropolitan network to KS together to criticize the government for the decision to allow a referendum on municipal dissolution in Kristiansand.

In a joint statement, Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Tromsø, Bærum and Drammen said the government must immediately end the report on whether the municipality of Kristiansand should be divided again.

“This is an unacceptable reversal of local democracy,” the statement said.

– Without meaning

Among those backing the call are seven out of eight from Labor. These include city council leaders Raymond Johansen in Oslo, Roger Valhammer in Bergen and Mayor Rita Ottervik in Trondheim.

Ottervik uses words like “sensational” and “meaningless” when describing the situation in Kristiansand.

– Last but not least, I thought of the mayor of Kristiansand, who fights a bit. But he should know that here we support him all over the country, she told NRK.

Ottervik stresses that she is neither a supporter of a forced merger nor a forced division.

– I believe that here we must have respect for local democracy, says Ottervik, who receives an answer to the indictment of the Center Party:

– There is no question of forcibly dissolving a municipality, even if it has been forcibly merged. It is a question of letting the inhabitants of Søgne and Songdalen speak. There can be three outcomes: Both can say yes to secession or no to secession, or each can come to their own conclusion, Greni says.

Disrespectful

Mayor Lisbeth Hammer Krogh (H) is the only major city leader not to represent Labor.

She calls the case sensational.

– This matter is fundamental in principle, and that is why it is so serious. That a government can overrule a decision made democratically by the Kristiansand city council, the highest body, so we simply cannot have it in the Norwegian administration.

– I live that as a lack of respect, she adds.

Mayor Jan Oddvar Skisland in Kristiansand leads the KS metropolitan network. But the criticism meets with little understanding from the Center Party.

– I am surprised by the formulation and the tone. The Center Party went to the polls on this issue, so it can’t come as a surprise to any of the mayors. It amazes me something absolutely huge, says Greni.

Store calls

Labor leader and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre had to face heavy criticism from his party colleagues in Sørlandet for handling the case. During his visit to Kristiansand on Monday, he must be prepared for a clear speech.

– This is to make it clear that this has created an incredible amount of frustration for us. We need to have a turn on how this might happen, but if not we need to think about how we can move forward, mayor Jan Oddvar Skisland tells NRK.

But among the people of the Center Party, the Labor leader gets the best shots to handle the deal.

– He did a very good job and defended local democracy, says Greni.

Only yesterday it was made clear that Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre will visit Kristiansand before the summer.

It happens on Monday.

He told NRK yesterday that the government’s decision is firm. The same message was repeated on Friday by party secretary Kjersti Stenseng in another text message post office.

– The decision has been taken, the terms and the process for which the Minister of Local Authorities is responsible, she writes.


Alec Dittman

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