Tallinn council opposition bemused over deputy mayor question time absences

Tallinn deputy mayors Andrei Kante (left) and Vladimir Svet.
Tallinn deputy mayors Andrei Kante (left) and Vladimir Svet. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Opposition city councilors in Tallinn have expressed resentment over two of the capital's seven deputy mayors not being on the agenda for Thursday's regular question time, at a crucial period of ongoing traffic gridlock in the city just ahead of the schools going back.

The Center Party is in coalition with the Social Democrats (SDE) in Tallinn. Reform, Eesti 200, Isamaa and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) are all in opposition.

Deputy mayors of Tallinn Vladimir Svet, (Center), responsible for traffic in the capital) and Andrei Kante, (Center), responsible for education, both pictured, have, opposition deputies say, been avoiding the issues ahead of the new academic year, due to start late next week.

Isamaa party group leader  Karl Sander Kase said however that it remains unclear why Kante and Svet are still avoiding question time on the matter this week. "Ahead of the start of the school year, it would be a bare minimum to answer the questions from city council deputies," he said.

Tuesday's press conference did not send any positive messages to children and parents ahead the start of the school year either, Kase noted.

"In fact, the situation will get even worse. The news that School XXI in central Tallinn will be at the epicenter of renovation and construction works is of concern for many children and parents," he added.

School XXI is located on Raua, adjacent to the Pronksi-Jõe roadworks that started last fall and have led to major road closures since then, exacerbated by other big projects ongoing in central Tallinn and elsewhere in the capital.

The Central Russian high school (Kesklinna vene gümnaasium) and Tallinn Jewish School (Tallinna juudi kool), too, are to suffer from the effects of the traffic disruption when they go back for the new term, he added.

In a comment sent to ERR, Deputy Mayor Svet said that he and Kante had already met with school principals this week, and on Tuesday gave a comprehensive press conference on the same topic.

Councilors' questions do not necessarily have to be answered in front of the camera, during the regular hour-long Thursday question time (in Estonian "Infotund"), for all to see, he added.

Deputies can also submit written questions and don't have to wait for the question time hour, Svet said.

Deputy mayors are not usually scheduled to take part in question time, Svet went on, while he had seen no questions on traffic management issues come in from councilors.

Nonetheless, both Svet and Kante conceded that come September it will prove difficult for children at schools located in the heart of the city to get to and from school on time every day, at least in the Autumn.

Deputy Mayor Kante says the schools have also been asked for their forbearance regarding the delays.

Kante noted that parents receive notification on traffic disruption and detours etc. via the eKool or Stuudium platforms, while public transport or walking to school might be alternatives to the school run, he added.

Sander Andla, Reform's vice-chair at Tallinn City Council, where the party is in opposition, shared Kase's view and expressed bewilderment at the government in general avoiding any session for a month-and-a-half through the summer.

Last Thursday session was additionally only to be attended by Joosep Vimm (SDE), one of seven deputy mayors, until a protest from Kase led to Madle Lippus (SDE) and Tiit Terik (Center), two other deputy mayors with relevant portfolios, being included on the agenda.

In the event, Svet replaced Terik for that session, though the traffic issue was still not addressed.

As of Wednesday morning, the agenda for Thursday's question time had not been made public.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Marko Tooming

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