The wonderful Blaarmeersen in happier times
Alexander Dumarey

Police clear Blaarmeersen Beach after mass brawl

Police cleared the beach area of the Blaarmeersen recreational estate (Ghent – East Flanders) last night after a major brawl erupted. It was shortly after 6PM that the fisticuffs started. Two people including a security guard were taken to hospital, while two belligerents were detained.

The fracas followed an afternoon in which groups of youngsters tried to intimidate the lifeguards.

Ten vans of police officers attended the scene as well as several ambulances.   A police spokesman said he had no information about the use of knives amid rumours such weapons were involved.

The Blaarmeersen swimming zone only officially reopened yesterday with lifeguards at work for a first time. Last year there were numerous incidents involving youngsters from Brussels and northern France.

Ghent police believe youngsters from Brussels were once again among the culprits.  A large group of youngsters was asked to head for the station and return to the Belgian and Flemish capital.  They made the journey to the station on foot with police deployed along the route.

The beach zone is free for inhabitants of East Flanders.  Others need to make a reservation and pay one euro as only a third of capacity is set aside for people from outside the province.   How so many youngsters from elsewhere got in is unclear.

Police and the city authorities discussed what additional measures they could take today.  Mayor De Clercq is incandescent: “I won’t tolerate it” he told VRT. “Blaarmeersen is for families not for guys who run amok”.

The fence around the beach will be strengthened. The reservation system will be tightened up and CCTV cameras will be installed.

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