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Erik Flyvholm: Collaborate across political groups and be willing to compromise

Erik Flyvholm: Collaborate across political groups and be willing to compromise

An interview with the Mayor of Lemvig, Denmark

Erik Flyvholm was born in December 1962. He has a degree in Civil Economics and was elected to the municipal council of Thyborøn-Harboøre Municipality in 1998. For the next four years, he was deputy mayor before becoming mayor of Thyborøn-Harboøre in 2002. After the municipal reform in 2007, Flyvholm was elected mayor of the new Lemvig Municipality.

In 2019, he spoke to TheMayor.EU to discuss Lemvig and the administration’s projects at the time; the full interview is available here.

Now, he has addressed the municipality’s recent initiatives as well as the outbreak of the COVID pandemic.

Mr Mayor, how would you describe the Municipality of Lemvig?

Lemvig Municipality is situated on the west coast of Denmark on the North Sea. The nature, with fjord, forest, and sea, means that we have been designated UNESCO Global Geopark West Jutland. Historically, we have lived off our surroundings. Agriculture and fishing have been, and are, major areas of focus that create prosperity and jobs. Resourceful farmers also relied on wind.

Today, we are leading the production of renewable energy from wind turbines, and the same enterprising folk are now investing heavily in new PtX-technologies. The idea of turning climate challenges into climate solutions, job creation, growth and new opportunities, permeates Klimatorium – Denmark's international climate centre, situated in Lemvig.

Here, authorities, researchers and companies meet in order to equip us to solve the global climate crisis. Klimatorium is part of the Coast to Coast Climate Challenge project (C2cc) and is supported by the EU. The global climate challenges are transnational and need to be addressed across borders.

The local business community in this area has a range of international competencies within green transition. At the Port of Thyborøn is the offshore group. We have the company, Plastix, which has cracked the code by transforming old fishing nets into tables, benches and new packaging. The Danish Coastal Authority (Kystdirektoratet) in Lemvig protects our coasts. PtX companies are on the way, and I could mention more. We have entered into climate partnership agreements with the companies, TripleNine, FMC and agriculture.

In the Municipality of Lemvig, we live a good family life. We have the best schools in the country, our nursing and elderly care is well-functioning, and we have endless leisure activities. In the national benchmark surveys, we are No. 1 in Denmark. So, both tourists and newcomers who, for example, want to work with green transition are very welcome in our municipality.

Climate actions, sustainability, and biodiversity are of great importance to Lemvig. What initiatives has the municipality launched in these areas?

We have set completely new ambitious goals via DK2020, which is a close collaboration between 20 larger and smaller municipalities in Denmark with the goal of finding viable and sustainable solutions to the challenges facing climate change. In the climate plan, we work closely with the business community in climate partnerships.

We work with biodiversity, where we encourage all citizens and others to contribute with their ideas for more biodiversity. Specifically, we have just launched a photo competition that should inspire everyone to promote biodiversity with exciting new ideas.

Climate challenges are global and we need to look beyond national and municipal borders to find the right solutions. That is why we are a close partner with Klimatorium in Lemvig, just as we collaborate with seven municipalities and seven water supplies on a common solution for the Thyborøn Canal, which will protect the entire western part of the Limfjord against flooding.

We also expect that the Central Jutland Region's clean-up of the poison depot at Høfde 42 will generate completely new environmental technologies that can be used elsewhere in the world. In addition, the clean-up will make even more of our beautiful nature accessible to citizens and our guests.

What is your administration doing to make Lemvig attractive to young people and hinder the population's decline?

We are facing difficult structural challenges as we provide almost all of our young people with secondary education. However, it's also a ticket away to our university cities, which means that every year we need to attract a large number of new citizens.

Systematic efforts are made for newcomers and new employees - private and municipal. We have employees in the public and private sectors whose task it is to take care of new residents in the municipality.  The Job-in-the West project has been working for five years to attract new employees to the area's exciting companies.

We brand ourselves via the West Coast to tourists, have high expectations for our new UNESCO Geopark approval, and we can go on endlessly about the choice of attractive benefits and the good life in our area. Life on the West Coast offers time for children, leisure - and here you can also work with meaningful jobs within, for example, the green transition.

We have a rich cultural life with many different art forms. The municipality provides grants for both established and new initiatives within art and culture. A new Museum of Art of the Golden Age is on its way in Lemvig.

The same applies to research and teaching. An example is an annual Education Debate, where teachers and educators from all over the country come to discuss and gain inspiration within the world of pedagogy.

The starting point is stringent and secure financial management, so there is peace of mind. And from there, we mobilise driving forces for development. We must turn challenges into development.

How did the outbreak of the pandemic impact business and life in Lemvig?

The entire local community was affected by the lockdown. Tourism was hit by border closures. It has been hard on the retail sector and particularly vulnerable citizens. Loneliness, frustration and helplessness have filled much of the period. But what I remember most is actually the unity and an incredible willingness to get through the crisis.

Today we can look back - and some are still having a hard time - but we have, in fact, actually come through unscathed. My impression is that the vaccination take-up has been well received and disease rates are low, which is most important. However, business and the economy are back to normal - some businesses and companies are doing significantly better than before the pandemic set in.

Also, we have all learned some things from the pandemic - we must take that further.

Expanding on the previous question, what is your administration doing to ensure the economy's post-COVID recovery?

During the pandemic, we advanced several capital investments and payments. We made targeted efforts and conducted a close dialogue. We are now a long way on the other side. However, we continue to work to create the best framework for new and existing companies in our municipality.

In the national surveys of the business climate, we also score very high. It is important for us to be an attractive place for new companies and existing companies to grow. Therefore, my door is also always open if new companies are considering moving to our green and lovely area.

As a mayor with nearly 15 years of experience, what projects or advice would you like to share with other European leaders on our platform?

A recent statement showed that I am Denmark's longest-serving mayor. It is a great honour and a job you have on "loan".

All municipalities and countries are different, so there isn't really just one way of doing things. But one of my guiding principles as mayor is: Collaborate across political groups and be willing to compromise.

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