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More and more cities are taking action against speed cameras, ‘how things are going is very irritating’

Okay, they fill a need. But otherwise the municipality of Arnhem is only slightly enthusiastic about Gorillas and Flink, flash delivery services that quickly deliver groceries to the door. “The added value for a liveable and inviting city center is limited,” says a municipal spokesperson about the services. “Or there isn’t at all.”

That is why it is time for action. New branches of flash delivery services will soon only be possible in Arnhem if a permit has been requested first. Then the municipal executive can consider whether the speed camera service ‘contributes to the quality of the city centre’.

Amsterdam and Rotterdam already decided this month to put an acute stop to flash delivery companies, companies that deliver groceries to home by bicycle courier. In these two cities, the services are not allowed to open new warehouses next year. Such mini-distribution centers are often located in shop premises whose windows are taped, giving them the name dark store to wear.

Flash deliverers such as Getir, Flink, Gorillas and Zapp are active in 29 Dutch municipalities. With the exception of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, NRC a tour of all those municipalities. Out of the 23 comments that NRC received, it appeared that more municipalities are preparing measures to regulate services.

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Complaints keep coming

It concerns The Hague, Groningen, Arnhem and Amstelveen, who want to prevent the rapid advance of the grocery delivery people from causing nuisance. Of the 23 municipalities, 9 say they regularly receive complaints from local residents or entrepreneurs, about noise pollution, traffic problems or bicycles blocking the sidewalk.

Many municipalities struggle with the phenomenon of flash delivery, according to the tour. They see that there is a need for it among some of their residents, but at the same time experience problems with implementation. The flash deliverers have usually settled in buildings in the center without prior consultation with the municipality.

Nuisance is also the main reason for preparing measures in Amstelveen, Arnhem, Groningen and The Hague. “The complaints keep coming,” says a spokesperson for the municipality of Amstelveen. They mainly focus on Getir, which has settled ‘in the middle of a residential area’. There are fewer complaints about Flink, which delivers from an industrial estate. “We are preparing decisions that limit the current capabilities of dark stores.”

Groningen and The Hague also want to be able to keep deliverers from the city center via new regulations.

Also read this article by Arjen van Veelen: ‘With every flash order you make your life faster’

New cities every month

Flash delivery is a relatively new phenomenon. At the end of 2020, the German Gorillas was the first super-fast delivery person to set up shop in the Netherlands, just outside the center of Amsterdam. Since then, three of these fast-growing companies have been added: the Turkish Getir, the British Zapp and the German Flink. The growth is rapid: services are expanding to new cities almost every month.

Young people between the ages of 18 and 34 in particular make frequent use of flash delivery services, concluded market researcher GfK last week after a survey. Of the nearly 46,000 respondents, 2.8 percent said they ordered from a flash delivery service in the past quarter. That is twice as much as six months ago.

Nowhere are the flash delivery companies growing as fast as in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Those are also the only cities where all four major companies are active. Barely a year after the arrival of Gorillas, according to the municipality, 31 ‘dark stores’ have been established in Amsterdam. Rotterdam now has 13 of these mini-warehouses.

By taking firm action now, Amsterdam hopes to prevent the rapid growth of such warehouses from “getting out of hand,” said alderman Marieke van Doorninck (Spatial Development, GroenLinks) in an explanation of the temporary ban. Rotterdam also wants to put “order in order” first, alderman Roos Vermeij (Economics, PvdA) said earlier. “There’s nothing wrong with flash delivery in itself, but how it works in practice is bloody irritating.”

No crazy stuff

Amsterdam and Rotterdam are therefore choosing a more rigorous path than the other municipalities. The two also decided on a secret vote in the city council about the temporary stop, in order to prevent flash delivery companies from quickly signing new leases. Other municipalities that are working on policy in this area are not in favor of a provisional ban. The only municipality that indicates that it is considering this is Almere, if a closer study of the zoning plans shows that flash delivery service providers can establish themselves in a shop without any problems.

It does not mean that the other municipalities are not in a hurry. The Hague wants to come up with rules this spring. In Groningen, the new policy will be ready within six months, alderman Berndt Benjamins (Economics, D66) recently promised the city council. According to Benjamins, the measures are not only aimed at flash delivery companies, but at all delivery companies that have started to deliver more and more groceries, packages and meals to home during the pandemic.

Incidentally, there are also municipalities that say they are not bothered by speed cameras, although this is mainly because they are still investigating the new phenomenon or the services have not yet gained a foothold. Such as in Ede in Gelderland, where flash delivery among the residents has not yet broken through. “It is not a crazy thing in terms of flash deliverers in Ede. We currently count one company (Flink), with one shop,” a spokesperson for the municipality said. “We are following the developments.”

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