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Court finds Woluwe-Saint-Lambert guilty of language 'discrimination'
Woluwe-Saint-Lambert council has fallen foul of a Brussels language law - after a court ruled that it had given French-speaking residents different local information to Dutch-speakers.
The court found that the municipality had failed to abide by a rule requiring all adminstrative documents to be identical in French and Dutch.
The case is centered around Woluwe's municipal magazine, which is posted through residents' letterboxes at a cost of €175,000 a year.
Unlike other communes in the Brussels region, which produce a bilingual magazine, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert instead opted for two publications - one in each language - to save paper.
Jean-Claude Van der Auwera, a former Ecolo councillor, said: "All administrative documents must be bilingual, with identical content. But this is not the case.
"The magazines are different. The Dutch version is smaller and less readable. Dutch-speakers are deprived of a range of information about cultural activities in the area. It's discrimination."
Last December, Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort objected to the way the municipality communicated with residents by refusing to approve the €174,274 costs of producing the municipal magazine in the town's 2017 accounts.
Mayor Olivier Maingain said the dual publication "aims to save paper, according to the wishes of local residents". He said: "We asked the public what language they wanted theirs to be in. We also translate the most essential information into certain other European languages, such as English, German or Spanish."
Maingain added that only "some very specific cultural information" was different in the two magazines. The town council will lodge an appeal.