Riga Deputy Mayor Ainars Slesers got his way again, against the public’s expressed interest, as the Cabinet of Ministers voted on March 3 to approve a zoning change allowing him to cut down historic trees and build a private house on a 0.8975 hectare beachfront plot of land he owns sited within the coastal protection zone, reports LETA. The Jurmala Protection Society was up in arms in protest at the plans to cut down pine trees, some of which are over 200 years old, on land which is in the seaside town of Jurmala, in the village of Pumpuri. The Cabinet agreed to re-zoning 0.6672 hectares. The government went against expert opinion stating that the territory is not fit for building and would involve the destruction of valuable natural habitat. Failure to block the project may render it impossible to prevent further building projects in the protected coastal zone.
The number of immigrants entering the UK from Latvia has doubled, while overall Central and Eastern Europe numbers continued to fall, say the latest figures, reports LETA. Provisional numbers from the Office for National Statistics suggest the number of incoming people from these countries fell by a third in the year to June 2009. In total there were 113,445 initial applicants to the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) in 2009, compared to 166,700 in 2008 and 217,975 in 2007. Approved initial applicants from Latvia more than doubled to a record new high of 15,385 in 2009, from 6,980 in 2008. Applicants from Lithuania and Estonia increased to 14,720 and 1,135 in 2009, from 11,560 and 945 in 2008, respectively.
At its general meeting, the Society for Different Politics party voted to join New Era and Civic Union on the joint election ticket called ‘Unity,’ reports LETA. 304 delegates were registered on Feb. 27, though 225 were on hand for the vote. 213 were in favor of joining Unity, while 12 were opposed. SDP board member Karina Korna outlined Unity’s basic platform to delegates, admitting that there had been a marked difference of opinion on various issues between the three parties. One of Unity’s main goals is for the 10th Saeima to renew the people’s trust in themselves, the nation and democracy. SDP board member Artis Pabriks, ahead of the vote on Unity, declared that the party’s members must decide whether they are able to offer an alternative to a government headed by the oligarchs.