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Tartu coalition should be confirmed next week

Urmas Klaas.
Urmas Klaas. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A new coalition is likely to be formed next week in Tartu after several weeks of negotiation discussions between the Reform and the Social Democratic (SDE) parties.

The main points of contention of the new coalition agreement in Tartu have been reaching agreements on kindergartens, assisted living and home services, future investment and public transport, including replacing bus shelters have been the thorniest issues.

Kindergarten fees were a big sticking point, with the SDE wanting to scrap the fees and decouple them from the minimum wage. The Reform party believe this will be too expensive.

The SDE also want to increase the volume of services offered to elderly people living at home. SDE leader Heljo Pikhof, head of the negotiating delegation, said an agreement had not yet been reached.

"We agreed to analyze the need to increase the volume of home services. But we also agreed to reduce the cost of home care for those using them. Today, if a city provides home services, it is €6 an hour, but if the private sector offers, it is already up to €14 an hour, "said Pikhof.

Mayor of Tartu Urmas Klaas added an analysis of home services will be part of a broader "dignified aging strategy". "The city of Tartu has done well in this area, but it is clear that in organizing home living, of course, every family has a responsibility towards their parents," said Klaas.

No planned investment will be scrapped with the new coalition agreement.  However, the city's kindergartens will receive a separate repair plan.

There has also been a big focus on public transport. Pikhof said long-awaited access to the second platform of the train station is being built - until now it has only been accessible via stairs. She also wants to make the bus station's waiting room larger.

A new bump in the coalition agreement was the new bus stations installed in 2017. Their narrow and sloping benches have been the subject of much criticism, especially from older citizens.

"Some designers have made them look beautiful, but it's not comfortable to sit down. We want to change them over time," said Pikhof.

However, exactly when the city will start replacing the seats is not clear from the coalition agreement. The new power agreement puts a lot of emphasis on planning and analysis.

"In drafting the coalition agreement, we have taken into consideration the ideas and proposals of various parties on the Tartu council," Klaas noted.

In the future city government, the SDE will get all the seats formerly held by the Center Party. Who exactly will sit on those chairs will be revealed by Friday, according to Pikhof.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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