Mayor, who jumped vaccination queue, relinquishes powers for now

Veerle Heeren (Flemish Christian democrat), Mayor of Sint-Truiden (Limburg), has given up her mayoral powers for an unspecified period of time.  Ms Heeren was at the centre of a storm after it became clear she had jumped the vaccination queue thanks to her position.

Ms Heeren is not resigning. The mayor earlier had to admit she was vaccinated ahead of her peers “thanks to vaccines that had been left over”. Several of her near and dear are believed to have benefitted from early vaccination too.

Ms Heeren told councillors “at the beginning the vaccination centre often had doses left over.  I was asked because of my daily presence at the vaccination centre and wasn’t treated differently from volunteers.”

“In the first weeks there was a risk thousands of doses would be lost.  I handed on names of replacement candidates.  We’re not talking about staff.  These were people, who were near and dear, my son, my sister, two neighbours, a friend.  It wasn’t sensible.  I made a mistake.”

The Christian democrat politician denies corruption: “There was no list.  There was no system.”

First city cabinet member Jelle Engelbosch (Flemish nationalist), who will assume Ms Heeren’s powers temporarily, hopes calm will now return to the town.

Opposition greens are demanding a government commissioner is sent to the Sint-Truiden to assume the mayor’s powers, while the socialists are seeking the mayor’s resignation. Ms Heeren will have none of it: “If you accept my sincere apologies and give me the opportunity, I will continue to give my all for the town” she told the council.

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