Erik Flyvholm: Collaborate between political groups and be prepared to compromise
Interview with the mayor of Lemvig, Denmark
Erik Flyvholm was born in December 1962. He graduated in civil economics and was elected to the municipal council of Thyborøn-Harboøre in 1998. For the next four years he was deputy mayor before becoming mayor of Thyborøn- Harboøre in 2002. After the municipal reform of 2007, Flyvholm was elected mayor of the new municipality of Lemvig.
In 2019, he sat down with TheMayor.EU to discuss Lemvig and the administration’s plans at the time; the full interview is available here.
Now he has touched on the municipality’s recent initiatives as well as the outbreak of the COVID pandemic.
Mr. Mayor, how would you describe the Municipality of Lemvig?
The municipality of Lemvig is located on the west coast of Denmark on the North Sea. Nature, with the fjord, forest and sea, means that we have been designated UNESCO Global Geopark West Jutland. Historically, we have lived from our environment. Agriculture and fishing have been and are major areas of interest that create prosperity and jobs. Ingenious farmers also relied on the wind.
Today, we are at the forefront of renewable energy production from wind turbines, and the same enterprising people 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 center, located in Lemvig.
Here, authorities, researchers and companies come together to equip us to solve the global climate crisis. Klimatorium is part of the Coast to Coast Climate Challenge (C2cc) project and is supported by the EU. Global climate challenges are transnational and must be tackled across borders.
The local business community in this area has a range of international skills within the framework of the green transition. At the port of Thyborøn is the offshore group. We have the Plastix company which cracked the code by turning 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 climate partnership agreements with TripleNine, FMC and agriculture companies.
In the Municipality of Lemvig, we live a good family life. We have the best schools in the country, our nursing and senior care work well, and we have endless leisure activities. In national benchmark surveys, we are number 1 in Denmark. Thus, tourists and newcomers who, for example, wish to work with the green transition are 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 whole new ambitious goals through DK2020, which is a close collaboration between 20 larger and smaller municipalities in Denmark with the aim of finding viable and sustainable solutions to the challenges facing climate change. In the climate plan, we work in close collaboration with the business world within the framework of climate partnerships.
We work with biodiversity, where we encourage all citizens and others to contribute with their ideas for more biodiversity. Concretely, we have just launched a photo competition which should inspire everyone to promote biodiversity with new and exciting ideas.
Climate challenges are global and we must 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 are working with seven municipalities and seven water supplies on a joint solution for the Thyborøn canal, which will protect the entire western part of the Limfjord from flooding.
We also anticipate that the clean-up of the poison depot in the Central Jutland region at Høfde 42 will generate entirely new environmental technologies that can be used elsewhere in the world. In addition, cleaning will make our beautiful nature even more accessible to citizens and our guests.
What is your administration doing to make Lemvig attractive to young people and slow down the population decline?
We face difficult structural challenges as we provide almost all of our young people with secondary education. But it is also a ticket to our university towns, which means that we have to attract a large number of new citizens every year.
Systematic efforts are made for newcomers and new employees – private and municipal. We have employees from the public and private sectors whose task is to take charge of the new residents of the municipality. The Job-in-the West project has been working for the past five years to attract new employees to exciting businesses in the region.
We advertise ourselves via the west coast to tourists, expect a lot from our new UNESCO Geopark accreditation, and we can continue ad infinitum on the choice of attractive advantages and the sweetness of life in our region. Life on the west coast offers time for children, leisure – and here you can also work with meaningful jobs as part of, for example, the green transition.
We have a rich cultural life with many different art forms. The municipality provides grants for established and new initiatives in the field of art and culture. A new Golden Age art museum is on its way to Lemvig.
The same goes for research and teaching. One example is an annual education debate, where teachers and educators from all over the country come to discuss and be inspired by the world of education.
The starting point is rigorous and secure financial management, and therefore peace of mind. And from there, we mobilize the driving forces of development. We need to turn challenges into development.
How has the outbreak of the pandemic impacted business and life in Lemvig?
The entire local community has been affected by the lockdown. Tourism has been affected by the border closures. It has been hard on the retail sector and on particularly vulnerable citizens. Loneliness, frustration and helplessness filled much of the period. But what I remember most is actually unity and an incredible willingness to get through the crisis.
Today we can look back – and some are still going through tough times – but in fact, we made it out unscathed. I have the impression that the adoption of vaccination has been well received and that the disease rates are low, which is the most important. However, business and the economy have returned to normal – some businesses and businesses are doing much better than before the start of the pandemic.
Plus, we have all learned some things from the pandemic – we need to go deeper.
Expanding on the previous question, what is your administration doing to ensure the recovery of the post-COVID economy?
During the pandemic, we have advanced several investments and capital payments. We have made focused efforts and engaged in close dialogue. We are now far away on the other side. However, we continue to work to create the best framework for new and existing businesses in our municipality.
In the national business climate surveys, we also get a very high score. It is important for us to be an attractive place for the growth of new and existing businesses. Therefore, my door is also always open if new businesses are planning to move to our green and charming neighborhood.
As mayor with almost 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 the longest-serving mayor of Denmark. It is a great honor and a job that you have on “loan”.
All municipalities and countries are different, so there really isn’t just one way to do things. But one of my guiding principles as mayor is: Collaborate between political groups and be ready to compromise.