Time for a new broom: high street store Blokker is up for sale

High street household good store Blokker is up for sale, the company's president has confirmed to the Financieele Dagblad. 'Blokker has been managed from a family perspective for 122 years,' Michiel Witteveen told the paper. 'Sometimes it is better to approach things from a different perspective. Luckily the family sees that as well. Sources had told the FD that talks on selling the company, which has more than 400 stores in the Netherlands and 100 in Belgium, were ongoing. And company secretary Peter Krenn later told broadcaster NOS: 'Exploratory talks about selling a majority stake in the company are under way.' Blokker Holding posted a loss of €344m last year, almost double the year-earlier loss. Total sales over the year fell by some €400m to €1.6bn, due to both divestments and ‘weak sales results, the company said earlier this year. Blokker Holding last year began a major overhaul of its high street stores because both sales and profits had been under pressure for years. Part of the reorganisation involved the sale of the Leen Bakker and Intertoys chains, which were also part of the holding.  More >

'Paedo hunter' father jailed for 4.5 years

Statue of justice. A father who tracked down a man who was trying to date his 14-year-old daughter and beat him with a snow shovel has had his jail sentence increased on appeal. Judges ruled that the attack by Mario Haazen was serious enough to be classed as attempted murder and sentenced him to four and a half years in prison. He had originally been sentenced to 10 months for serious assault. The appeal court said that Haazen, from Helmond, had struck his victim, Jack S., so hard with the shovel that 'he 'deliberately and knowingly accepted there was a chance that he might die', according to Omroep Brabant. The 47-year-old S. had made contact with Haazen's daughter online by posing as a 17-year-old boy and leaving chocolates and flowers in her garden. After discovering the man's identity, M. staked out his house, followed him to a public place in Eindhoven and attacked him with the shovel. Haazen believed that S., who had been given a tbs psychiatric treatment order in the past, had previous convictions for sexual offences, but this was not the case, the court heard. The original sentence also included a compensation order for €1,925, which was paid for by a crowdfunding campaign. Haazen shouted out in court that he would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, Omroep Brabant reported.    More >

Dutch funeral laws need overhauling: D66

The current rules governing funerals and the disposal of dead bodies need overhauling to bring them in line with modern times, according to coalition party D66. The Liberal democrats have published a list of 14 changes which they would like to see implemented in the current laws covering death, which were last given a major overhaul in 1991. 'D66 believes that everyone should be entitled to a funeral which does justice to the life they have lived and offers comfort to loved ones,' D66 MP Monica den Boer says. 'Funerals must offer sufficient freedom of choice and this is why we have issued concrete proposals to modernise the law.' The suggestions made by D66 include allowing the ashes of two separate people to be mingled at the crematorium and an end to the law which says the ashes must remain at the crematorium for 30 says. Funerals and cremations should also be able to take place as early as 20 hours after death, rather than the current limit of 36 hours, Den Boer says. Ten things about death in the Netherlands Amsterdam has a museum devoted to funerals According to Jewish and Islamic tradition, people should be buried as soon as possible after death, she said. 'We want all common religions in the Netherlands to be able to practice their beliefs, without having to apply for special procedures.' Den Boer also supports developing a regulatory framework for the funeral industry.  More >

More low income families in NL

The number of low income households in the Netherlands has gone up for the first time in four years, the national statistics office CBS said on Monday. Some 8.2% of households - or 599,000 - have an income on, or just above the poverty line, the CBS said. Around a third of the rise is due to the influx of refugees from Syria, many of whom end up reliant on benefits, the CBS said. The CBS says single people with an income of no more than €1,040 and families with children on an income of €1,960 risk poverty. Families with a single, low-skilled breadwinner are most at risk of falling below the poverty line. The CBS has also looked at the percentage of refugees and immigrant groups on low incomes and found 53% of refugee households have a low income. More than that, 80% of households made up of Syrian or Eritrean refugees are on, or below, the bread line, the CBS said. Households with an Iranian background, by contrast, are least likely to be poor, with 33% at risk of poverty.  More >

Jail for helicopter prison break plotters

Four men have been jailed for their part in a failed plot to break a contract killer out of prison by hiring a helicopter. The plan to spring Benaouf A. from jail in Roermond last October foundered when the helicopter rental firm became suspicious of the men's intentions and contacted police, NRC reported. The sentences handed down by the district court in Amsterdam of between two years and 30 months were lower than the three to nine years demanded by the prosecution, mainly because the plot had been thwarted at an early stage. Five other defendants were acquitted. Police who raided the men's homes found a handgun, automatic weapons and ammunition, along with rockets, jerrycans and home-made caltrops, spiked weapons shaped like crows' feet that are used to puncture vehicle tyres. Despite the relatively light sentences, the court said a 'very serious and dangerous situation' had been prevented, adding that the gang showed a 'total lack of respect for the justice system.' A. was serving a 12-year sentence for a murder committed in Antwerp in 2012 during the so-called 'Mocro Wars' between rival drugs gangs.  More >

'Triggered' Verstappen penalised for clash

Max Verstappen has been ordered to carry out two days' community service by the FIA as punishment for lashing out at Esteban Ocon at the end of the weekend Brazilian Grand Prix, where he finished second. The Dutchman was leading the race on lap 44 when Ocon, who had been lapped, clipped the back of his Red Bull car while trying to overtake and sent him spinning off the track, allowing Lewis Hamilton to slip between them. Verstappen raised his middle finger as he passed the Force India driver and vented his frustration in an expletive-ridden outburst on the car-to-pits radio, before confronting Ocon in the paddock. After an exchange of words Verstappen pushed the Frenchman several times in the chest, knocking him off balance. Despite the damage to his car, Verstappen was able to carry on and finish second, 1.429 seconds behind world champion-elect Hamilton. Ocon was given a 10-second race penalty for causing the collision. After reviewing the incident, race stewards ordered the 21-year-old to to 'perform two days of public service at the direction of the FIA' within six months. Stewards decision on @OconEsteban and @Max33Verstappen post race incident - 2 days of Community Service to be done within six months. #skyf1 #brazilgp pic.twitter.com/Hj2Zom1euE — Rachel Brookes (@RachelBrookesTV) November 11, 2018 'The Stewards understood from Max Verstappen that he was extremely upset by the incident on track during the race and accepted his explanation that it was not his original intent to strike Ocon, but that he was "triggered" and caused him to loose [sic] his temper,' the stewards said in an official statement. The confrontation took the gloss off a fine drive by the Dutchman, who moved through the field from his starting position of fifth and overtook Hamilton to take the lead before the crash spoiled his chance of victory. 'I was just trying to do my race and then a back marker takes a stupid risk,' he said afterwards. 'I lost a victory but hopefully in 15 years' time we can laugh about it.' Happy to finish 2nd, but we should have won today. The car was brilliant and @redbullracing came with a great strategy. Our race pace was better than expected and we did everything well today. Thanks to all fans for voting me Driver of the Day again 🙌🏻 #KeepPushing #BrazilGP 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/dXmUbf9yXf — Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) November 11, 2018 An unrepentant Ocon said he was entitled to try to 'unlap' himself by passing Verstappen, just after coming out of the pits on fresh tyres. 'He can be upset but if you are leading the race you have to control it,' he said.  More >

Van Bommel sets Eredivisie rookie record

Mark van Bommel set a record for a rookie coach as PSV Eindhoven kept up their 100% record at the top of the Eredivisie with a comfortable 4-1 win at De Graafschap. Van Bommel overtook the previous mark of 11 straight victories for a new manager set by Morten Olsen at Ajax in 1987. Two goals from Luuk de Jong, bringing his total for the season to 11, sandwiched by strikes from Steven Bergwijn and Donyell Malen, kept the league leaders five points ahead of Ajax, who won even more emphatically at Excelsior. The Amsterdammers scored five times in the second half and had five different scorers, with Donny van de Beek netting twice along with Lasse Schöne, Kasper Dolberg, Hakim Ziyech and David Neres. Excelsior defender Jerdy Schouten contributed an own goal. The decisive moment in Feyenoord's 2-0 win at Heracles Almelo came when a free kick from Steven Berghuis hit the bar, rebounded straight down and went in off goalkeeper Janis Blaswich's backside. Feyenoord, who were without the injured Robin van Persie, sealed the points through Jens Toornstra to open up a three-point lead over Heracles in third place. Groningen moved off the bottom of the table with a 2-0 home win against northern rivals Heerenveen, while Emmen notched up their first home win in the Eredivisie by beating fellow relegation contenders NAC Breda by the same scoreline. Elsewhere, a fine free-kick by Norwegian Martin Ødegaard helped Vitesse Arnhem end Dick Advocaat's four-match winning streak as manager of Utrecht, while Venlo won the Limburg derby against Fortuna Sittard 3-2. A scrappy goal by Guus TIl earned AZ Alkmaar victory at ADO Den Haag 1-0 that lifts them to sixth place. PEC Zwolle's winless run stretched to two months as they went down 3-2 at home to Willem II. Weekend Eredivisie results: Friday PEC Zwolle 2-3 Willem II Tilburg Saturday Emmen 2-0 NAC Breda De Graafschap 1-4 PSV Eindhoven Vitesse Arnhem 2-1 Utrecht VVV Venlo 3-2 Fortuna Sittard Sunday Groningen 2-0 Heerenveen ADO Den Haag 0-1 AZ Alkmaar Excelsior 1-7 Ajax Heracles Almelo 0-2 Feyenoord  More >

Police overtime is structural, union says

Police officers are regularly being asked to work longer than permitted shifts and are too often on duty at night, police union NPB has told the AD. So far this year the union has collected 173,000 cases in which official working hours were broken and that is 'an absurd number', union chairman Jan Struijs told the paper. In total, the police will have worked 1.36 million hours of overtime by the end of the year, Struijs says. 'Overtime has become structural,' he said. 'And five years on from the reorganisation into a single police force, officers are still being told they have to work overtime or do successive night shifts. They are exhausted.' Police chiefs point out that the amount of overtime this year will be down on the 1.5 million hours worked last year and that the number of irregularities has also been reduced. 'If you look at where we started, we have made substantial progress,' a spokesman told the paper. Police officers from all three unions were involved in last Saturday's public sector worker demonstration in Amsterdam, calling for better working conditions and protesting about the introduction of market forces into the legal system.  More >