Minister of Social Affairs Lucha ventures into the lion's den: He is to answer questions in the Heidelberg municipal council on the planned use of an ex-prison for the penal system. The body is brushed against resistance. Can he still turn things around?
Heidelberg (dpa/lsw) - Social Affairs Minister Manne Lucha (Greens) makes the use of Heidelberg's ex-prison "Fauler Pelz" for the therapy of addicted offenders a top priority: he wants to advertise it in the city council this Thursday evening, in the state-owned building complex on a transitional basis accommodate 80 patients from the forensic facility. The transitional solution is scheduled to expire in the summer of 2025 when additional capacities have been created. The city rejects the plans and wants to reserve the site for use by the university. The conflict threatens to be carried out in court.
Lucha wants to prevent this escalation by appearing in the municipal council before a proposal from one of his most bitter opponents, Heidelberg Mayor Eckart Würzner, is voted on. The non-partisan mayor wants to ensure that the building application from the ministry for the renovation of the properties is postponed for a year - from the point of view of observers, the death knell for the project.
The SPD parliamentary group had invited Lucha to the municipal council meeting where Würzner's idea was put to the vote. Group leader Anke Schuster says: "It is an act of courtesy that both sides listen to each other." The country, on the other hand, ignored the city councillors. "The university's key was taken away and sinks were ripped out of the wall without teaching us." Schuster wants to put Lucha to the test, especially when it comes to the question of whether he has examined alternatives to "lazy fur". "Baden-Württemberg is big - there must be other options."
In a joint statement, the 48-member committee rejects the state's plans because they would "obstruct high-quality urban development in Heidelberg's most traditional district". The "lazy fur" should in future offer space for jobs and research at the university and be open to the public.
From Lucha's point of view, this is not a contradiction. It's only about an interim use until the summer of 2025, he always assures. But not everyone believes that. The fact that the state wants to renovate the building with eleven million euros, CDU parliamentary group leader Jan Gradel finds "madness" and not plausible to the taxpayer. The city councilors are also burned children because of another conflict between country and city. Many feel reminded that the country promised them in 2015 that the arrival center for refugees would be temporarily set up in the municipality. The transitional facility became a permanent facility.
Lucha also argues with security aspects. A third of eight psychiatric centers in the country are overcrowded. Consequence: This year, 20 offenders have already been released prematurely because a place in the correctional facility could not be found within a reasonable period of time. CDU man Gradel blames the minister: "Now the city should bleed because he hasn't done his homework in recent years." He adds: "We don't want to have a correctional facility, it doesn't fit into the city." Once the country has its foot in the door, there will no longer be any legal means of enforcing the proposed deduction: "We would be completely dependent on the goodwill of the country." SPD woman Schuster also lacks faith: "I know so many interim solutions whose 25th anniversary was celebrated."
More moderate tones come from Derek Cofie-Nunoo. The head of the largest faction, the Greens, is committed to the common line of the city councillors. But he will be surprised by the party friend's ideas. "There's no point in inviting someone over and saying we don't care what they say." He does not rule out that new approaches will be discussed and reviewed and that the vote will therefore have to be postponed.