The inhabitants of suburban towns do not put down their arms in the fight against the authorities of Chełm (Lubelskie Voivodeship), who would see ten neighboring villages within the city limits. The head of the Chełm commune wrote in this case to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and submitted a notification to the prosecutor’s office about the possibility of committing a crime by the president of Chełm, because he – bypassing the city council – asked the voivode to join the village councils. Chełm authorities claim that they only gave an impulse, and the procedure was initiated by the Ministry of Interior and Administration.
At the end of September, residents of the Chełm commune entered the streets of Chełm, outraged by the fact that the president of Chełm, Jakub Banaszek, wanted to join several local villages to the city. More specifically, villages: Koza-Gotówka, Nowiny, Okszów, Okszów-Kolonia, Pokrówka, Srebrzyszcze and Żółtańce-Kolonia, and some villages: Weremowice, Żółtańce and Depułtycze Królewskie.
– Although the official reason is the desire to obtain investment areas, in our opinion the president is talking about tax money. The city of Chełm is in debt, and the villages to be incorporated are rich. Over 50 percent of the annual income of our commune comes from PIT and CIT and local taxes from these villages – Katarzyna Lewandowska, one of the protesters, argued in an interview with tvn24.pl.
The commencement of the procedure surprised the commune administrator
Wiesław Kociuba, the head of the Chełm commune, told us that he found out about the case on September 20, when the president of Chełm came to his office and informed him that he had applied for the incorporation of the villages.
– Also on September 20, I received a letter from the Ministry of the Interior and Administration that the Lublin voivode, seven days early, requested to start the procedure – reported the local government official.
My competences could be exceeded
Now he has applied to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to annul the proceedings and submitted a notification to the prosecutor’s office about the possibility of a crime being committed by President Chełm.
– The president wrote a letter to the voivode, and he wrote to the Ministry of Interior and Administration. On the other hand, the law states that only two entities are competent to initiate changes to the boundaries of local governments. The first is the commune council – in this case the city council of Chełm – and the second is the Council of Ministers. That is, de facto, the Ministry of the Interior and Administration – says the commune head.
City authorities: the president gave only an impulse
At the end of September, Damian Zieliński from the office of President Chełm said in an interview with tvn24.pl that the topic of joining the village councils to the city of Chełm had been appearing for years and was also the subject of discussions both by residents and local government officials.
– The Mayor of the City of Chełm gave only an impulse in the form of a letter to the Lublin voivode, and it was the voivode who asked the Ministry of Interior and Administration, which initiated the procedure – emphasized Zieliński.
Now, referring to the notification to the prosecutor’s office submitted by the head of Chełm, he claims that no proceedings “in the sense given by the provisions of the KPA” are conducted, especially at the request of President Chełm.
– The procedure was initiated by the competent ministry, in this case the Ministry of Interior and Administration, which applied to the councils of local government units (local government units – ed.) With a request for an opinion – he says.
Public consultations are being prepared
Wiesław Kociuba comments that it all started with a letter sent by the president to the voivode. – It is hard to suppose that the minister in Warsaw suddenly became interested by himself in the borders of two local governments in Lublin – he smiles.
As the mayor, counting from September 20, he has three months to conduct public consultations on the change of the commune’s borders. – We set up preliminary dates – he emphasizes.
A few years ago, the inhabitants of Opole protested
In 2016 a similar situation took place in Opole. By the decision of the authorities, the capital of the Opole region was to increase by almost 10,000 inhabitants and over five thousand hectares from the beginning of 2017. The inhabitants of the communes that were to be incorporated into Opole protested and said: – This is a jump on the money. Decision against our will.
Despite the protests, and even hunger strikes by some of the disgruntled locals, Opole was enlarged by adding to it some of the villages of Dobrzeń Wielki, Prószków, Dąbrowa and Komprachcice.
The village councils would be attached to Chełm
Main photo source: TVN24