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NEW MILTON Town Council in Hampshire has celebrated its special relationship with its twinned town of Canteleu in France by planting a Paul’s Scarlet hawthorn tree at Ballard Lake, as part of its Plant a Tree Initiative. The towns have been linked since 1991, with a twinning charter formally signed in January 2001.
The mayor, Cllr Alvin Reid, was joined by Sue Caswell and Chris Douglas, representing New Milton Twinning Association, and Cllr Bob Murrow. He said: “The objectives of the twinning charter are all about friendship and mutual understanding, which is really important to remember at this time of Brexit. The planting of this tree shows our commitment to our solid and binding relationship with Canteleu.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, March 2021



WARMINSTER Town Council in Wiltshire has launched a good neighbour campaign as part of its [coronavirus] response. It has produced a leaflet that people can download, which asks residents to contact their nearest five neighbours and exchange phone numbers so they can offer help and support if needed. It also gives general advice and contact details for local organisations that can help.
Meanwhile the mayor, Cllr Paul Macfarlane (left), has sent best wishes to Warminster’s twin towns, Warminster in Pennsylvania, Flers in France and Elblag in Poland.
He wrote: “Twinning has been a marvellous way to strengthen the links between our residents and at time of trouble we all tend to reflect on what is most important in life, such as family, friendship and good health. … I am sure that in your town, just as in Warminster, people are pulling together, helping each other and looking out for each other. This is how good things are achieved.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2020


Town Council has agreed to a formal twinning arrangement with Neukirchen Vluyn in Germany. The two towns have had an informal friendship agreement for the past seven years, and both are already twinned with Mouvaux in France. In recent years there have been more joint activities, and it was decided to progress to a formal arrangement to ensure that relationships continue into the future. The next step will be for the mayors to sign formal agreements at ceremonies in both towns; Buckingham’s mayor Cllr Mark Cole (pictured) planned to travel to Neukirchen Vluyn in February. In the meantime activities continue, led by the chair of the Buckingham Twinning Association, Sue Watkins. The association organises reciprocal small group visits and often has a stall selling English products at a market in Neukirchen Vluyn. At home it holds events offering coffee, croissants and German cake each February, and it stages a boules tournament every July. It also has a website and a Facebook page to keep members informed.

Clerks & Councils Direct, March 2020

in Oxfordshire held its annual Charity Fair on 2 November, hosted by the mayor, Cllr Ann Midwinter, with the help of councillors and officers. The event took place in the town hall, with stalls manned by local charities. The event also saw the official launch of the OX9ERS group, set up by former members of the Thame Lions Club, which folded recently. The OX9ERS plan to take over where the Lions left off, covering Thame and nearby villages and communities. They meet monthly at The Three Horseshoes pub in Towersey.

A week earlier, the Thame Sinaia Friendship Association welcomed visitors from twin town Sinaia in Romania, who attended the Thame Arts and Literature (TAL) Festival. They presented Cllr Midwinter with a two-volume biography of Queen Maria, which will be placed in Thame Library. They also presented a short introduction on Maria, a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, to an audience in the town hall, before taking part in the TAL Quiz. They were later taken on a guided walk of the town and its historical buildings.

Clerks & Councils Direct, January 2020

THOUSANDS of people joined BICESTER’S Remembrance Day event to pay their respects. The service was held at St Edburg’s Church and was followed by a parade through the Oxfordshire town involving about 500 people. Dignitaries attending included Deputy Lieutenant Miranda Markham, the mayor Cllr Jason Slaymaker and senior officers from local regiments and the United States Air Force at RAF Croughton.
The service began with a call to attention led by troops from 1 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, then a lone bugler played the Last Post to signal two minutes’ silence. Wreaths were laid on the war memorial by representatives of a host of local organisations and by representatives of twin towns in Germany, France and Poland.

 Clerks & Councils Direct, January 2020




NEWBURY Town Council in Berkshire hosted guests from its twin and linked towns to celebrate the second stage of its twinning with Carcaixent in Spain on 13 July. The two mayors, Cllr Elizabeth O’Keeffe and Francesc Salom, signed the agreement in a ceremony at the Corn Exchange, as did the heads of the twinning associations, Zita Lang and Vincent Selfa.
Cllr Martin Colston, council leader, said: “Newbury is fortunate to have such diverse international relations and we are so lucky to have such an active Twin Town Association.”
Carcaixent has been associated with Newbury for over 20 years and is already twinned with its other twin towns – Braunfels in Germany, Bagnols-sur-Cèze in France, Eeklo in Belgium and Feltre in Italy. It is close to Valencia, in the orange-growing region of Spain.
Sixty European guests were accommodated with host families over the weekend and treated to a programme of events including a conference and workshop on “Brexit: the price of divorce” at Newbury College, a gala dinner and a hog roast and barn dance.

 Clerks & Councils Direct, November 2019




FROME Town Council in Somerset welcomed guests from its twin towns in Poland, Germany and France on 19 September for the annual Quadripartite event, which allows the four towns to share ideas, build relationships and learn from each other.
This year it was Frome’s turn to host, with 30 guests from each of the visiting towns being entertained with a full programme, including the Frome Carnival. Many local organisations took part, with the town hall hosting a business meeting between the mayors as well as a special youth council meeting. The young visitors also met students at Frome College and took part in activities at the local YMCA.

As part of the celebrations, four silver birch trees were planted by the Rabka Gardens in Victoria Park to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the twinning with Rabka-Zdrój in Poland. The other twinned towns are Murrhardt in Germany and Château-Gontier in France.

Clerks & Councils Direct, November 2019


NEWPORT in South Wales has cut its twinning links with the autonomous region of Guangxi in China in protest at its hosting of an annual dog meat festival. The ten-day festival has been held in the city of Yulin since 2010, and sees more than 10,000 dogs killed and eaten. It has attracted protests from around the world, with animal right activists saying that dogs, including family pets, are killed and skinned inhumanely. Nearly 40,000 people signed a petition calling for Newport to end its twinning affiliation. The city council wrote a strongly worded letter to its Chinese counterpart but received no reply. Council leader Debbie Wilcox said that the association would now end after 23 years, and Guangxi’s name would be removed from all signs and literature. She added: “Nothing would strengthen the upholding of international standards and the rule of law more than by ending the abhorrent practices of the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, September 2019



The mayor of RINGWOOD in Hampshire, Cllr Tony Ring, hosted a civic reception at Ringwood Gateway in late May for a party of visitors from twin town Pont-Audemer in Normandy. The towns were twinned in 1986 and exchange visits have been a regular feature of the relationship since. The Pont Audemer delegation was led by its mayor, M. Marcel Leroux. He brought an apple tree as a gift, which was planted in the grounds of Quaker Court, a residential complex for older people. Cllr Ring said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to celebrate the continuing relationship between our two towns. Long may it continue!”

Clerks & Councils Direct, September 2019





A delegation from MARLOW in Buckinghamshire travelled to France to celebrate VE (Victory in Europe) Day with twin town Marly-le-Roi and to take part in a remembrance service on 8 May at the town’s cemetery. The mayor, Cllr Chris Funnell, joined his French counterpart Jean-Yves Perrot and laid wreaths on behalf of Marlow residents and the British Legion, as skies cleared following torrential rain. Children from local schools read out the names of the fallen and Cllr Funnell gave a speech marking the importance of the strong twinning links and remembering the fallen soldiers from both towns. He said: “World War Two was a devastating and bloody campaign, with many heroes in both our towns.”

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2019


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WORKINGTON Town Council in Cumbria organised a string of community events as spring got under way. First up was a free family fun day at Moorclose Community Centre on 20 April. The first 100 children to arrive received a free Easter egg, and activities included crafts, storytelling, birds of prey, sports, chalk art and face painting. On 18 May the council hosted its annual sports festival, “Workington Go!”, featuring free workshops led by professional instructors. It was first held in 2017, with the aim of giving young people and their families a chance to try new activities. It has grown significantly and this year over 640 activity spaces were filled, twice as many as in 2018. The event was held across three venues – Vulcan Park, Hall Park and Workington Leisure Centre – and included boxing, canoeing, archery, racket ball, street art, circus skills, cookery demonstrations and more. It was sponsored by Sport England and sports shoe company New Balance.

 On 25 May Vulcan Park hosted Party in the Park, a free community festival also now in its third year. This included live music, a local market, a funfair and children’s entertainment. It was sponsored by Allerdale Borough Council and the Arts Council, and their additional funding covered a special programme of street theatre. The event also marked the 25th anniversary of Workington’s twinning with the German town of Selm. Guests from Selm took part in a tree planting ceremony to mark the occasion.

Pictured L-R: football at Workington Go!; bottom left: local artists Astral Circus at Party in the Park; bottom right: tree planting ceremony with guests from Selm

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2019


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A delegation of 23 people from BRECON in Powys, including the mayor Cllr Manny Trailor, the deputy mayor, five councillors and the town clerk, travelled to Nepal on 5 February to complete the twinning of the Welsh town with Dhampus in Machapuchare Rural Municipality. The signing and exchange of the twinning oath took place in front of a huge turnout of residents, framed by the magnificent backdrop of the Himalayas. Scrolls were supplied by Clerks & Councils Direct, including one in Nepalese translated by Nepal’s ambassador to the UK. This was followed by an afternoon and evening of cultural entertainment and celebration. According to clerk Fiona Williams, plans are now in progress to celebrate the twinning arrangement in Brecon on 9 June, on the same day as the annual Gurkha Parade

Clerks & Councils Direct, May 2019



GODALMING Museum recently hosted an exhibition of work by artists from the Surrey town and its twin towns of Joigny in France and Mayen in Germany. Thirty works were specially created for “The Road to Peace” exhibition, which was inspired by the First World War. It explored themes of isolation, chaos and the confusion of war, but also the hope of the armistice of 1918.
Nine local artists were represented. The exhibition was first displayed in Joigny in December 2018, before being shown in Godalming from 9 January to 2 March 2019. It has now moved on to Mayen.
Cllr Liz Wheatley, president of the Godalming/Mayen Association, said: “This exhibition is a shining example of the collaboration and cooperation between the three towns and shows the benefit of twinning and the friendship that exists between us.

Clerks & Councils Direct, March 2019


NEWBURY Town Council has voted to officially twin with Carcaixent, a town near Valencia in eastern Spain. Carcaixent has been associated with the Berkshire town for over 20 years, and is already twinned with its four other twin towns, Braunfels in Germany, Bagnolssur-Cèze in France, Eeklo in Belgium and Feltre in Italy. It is hoped to invite visitors from all fi ve twin towns to Newbury for a weekend celebration in 2019. Twinning activities are organised by volunteers through the Newbury Twin Town Association, which organises at least half a dozen twinning trips and events each year. Cllr David Fenn, the town’s mayor, said: “There have been many exchanges between the people of Newbury and Carcaixent over the years, and I am very pleased to see this relationship formalised.”
Meanwhile FROME Twinning Association in Somerset is to host a European Dinner on 24 February for guests from its twin towns of Murrhardt in Germany, Rabka-Zdroj in Poland and Chateau Gontier in France. The dinner will be held at Trinity Church and the courses will be themed around each country, with French onion soup to start, followed by German pork in gravy with red cabbage and Polish cheesecake for dessert (vegetarian options are also available). In addition, a new project led by Frome Town Council will enable young locals aged 18–25 to undertake work experience placements in Murrhardt, after a number of businesses there expressed interest in taking part. Participants will have placements lasting one to two weeks and will stay with host families in the German town.

Clerks & Councils Direct, March 2018

RINGWOOD Town Council in Hampshire recently hosted a delegation from twin town Pont-Audemer, in the Normandy region of France. The annual event was organised by the Ringwood Twinning Association and kicked off with a reception at the council offices. The next day the guests visited National Trust property Kingston Lacy, accompanied by a procession of vintage cars from the Austin 7 Club. This was followed by refreshments and an exhibition of photographs of Pont-Audemer.

 Clerks & Councils Direct, September 2017



Vulcan Park in WORKINGTON hosted hundreds of people on 27 May to celebrate 20 years of the Cumbrian town’s twinning with Val-de-Reuil in France. The Party in the Park was a free family event organised by the town council and featured market stalls from over 30 local businesses, street entertainers and theatre performances, live music, free face painting, children’s crafts and a funfair.

The new mayor, Cllr Ann Bales, said: “It’s great to see everyone come together in the community and celebrate an anniversary that we are proud of. Everyone has had a great time, including our international visitors.”

A special tree planting ceremony was held during the event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the twinning, and the French delegation also attended the mayor-making ceremony the previous evening. Val-de-Reuil is a commune in the Eure department of Normandy and has active twinning links with communities in several other countries.

Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2017


BEAMINSTER in Dorset welcomed a party from its twin town, St James in Normandy, at the end of May for a weekend of music and local culture. The event, organised by Beaminster and District Twinning Association, saw the town crier greet the 32 visitors before a reception and welcoming speeches by the town council chairman, Cllr Chris Turner, and Cllr Rebecca Knox, leader of Dorset County Council. A twinning exhibition was staged at the town’s museum, and the group visited Buckfast Abbey before catching a steam train from Buckfastleigh to Totnes. Other activities included a skittles competition and an official dinner at the Public Hall, attended by more than 70 guests. Speeches included one by Roger Angel, chairman of the Dorset Twinning Association, and the evening concluded with an exchange of gifts.


Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2017


A PARTY of 27 people from the villages of CROSTON and Heskin in Lancashire travelled to their twin town of Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire Valley in May to take on their French counterparts at boules. The twinning has been going on for over 25 years and is entirely self-supporting, according to Alan Whittaker, chairman of the Croston/Azay Twinning Association and clerk to HESKIN Parish Council.
The trip celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Croston and District Boules League, and was organised by chairman Peter Briggs. The itinerary included two receptions and boules tournaments against local sides, and a wine tasting. The Azay twinning committee invited 140 guests to a dinner at Cheillé, where speeches and presentations were made by the mayor of Azay and the presidents of both boules clubs.

Clerks & Councils Direct September 2016


FROME Town Council recently hosted an event entitled “Switch to a Renewable Future”, which brought together local, regional and European experts on renewable energy. Part of its thematic twinning programme, it was attended by 90 delegates from twin towns in France, Germany and Poland, along with over 200 people from Frome and Somerset.

The two-day event (above) covered topics such as energy efficiency, renewable energy and sustainable lifestyles, including finance, low-carbon buildings, food waste, river power and electric vehicles. The council also launched a discussion paper on how the town could become the first in the UK go fossil fuel-free by 2046.

Meanwhile the council continues to support Frome Business Breakfasts, a regular networking event. Over 40 people visited Dennis Maps on the Marston Estate for an informal breakfast and a tour led by managing director Steve Burry (below).

The April breakfast focused on the role of Frome Chamber of Commerce while the May meeting, to be held at Frome College, will look at the relationship between education and work and the role of apprentices.

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2016


RINGWOOD Town Council recently entertained guests from twin town Pont Audemer in France, with a reception at the council offices. The annual event is organised by the French Twinning Association, which is separate from the council and other twinning groups in the town. The mayor, Cllr Michael Thierry, presented the visitors with a watercolour picture, and other guests were given branded mugs and shopping bags.


 Clerks & Councils Direct, July 2015

PONTYPOOL Community Council is to cease funding twinning arrangements. It has handed over responsibility, including for a three-yearly twinning conference and youth festival, to Pontypool Twinning Association. In 2009 the festival cost around £24,000, and the move will save the council thousands of pounds each year. Chairman Cllr Giles

Davies said: “I’m not against twinning but I don’t think taxpayers should foot the bill – it should instead come from grants. I feel the money would be better spent elsewhere, especially in today’s economic climate.”

Clerks & Councils Direct January 2014


 IN May WALTHAM ABBEY celebrated the 20th anniversary of its twinning arrangement with Hörstel in Germany. The two towns signed a Town Twinning Charter in 1993, and the past 20 years have seen many visits and the building of great friendships.

A weekend of celebrations saw 74 German visitors attend a special church service with music by Tallis and Brahms and a sermon in German by the Rev Rod Reid. This was followed by a town hall ceremony where the mayor, Cllr Elizabeth Webster, and Heinz Hüppe, Bürgermeister of Hörstel, signed a charter reaffirming the partnership.

Cllr Webster said: “I am delighted to celebrate this anniversary with our German friends and we look forward to another 20 years of friendship between our two towns.” Herr Hüppe presented the town council with a sculpture depicting friendship and a carpet bearing the town crests of both councils.

Earlier, Cllr Webster and Herr Hüppe hoisted a flag to mark the launch of the town’s Festival Season. The Festival of Flags will continue throughout the summer, and there will be a food festival and an Italian market. The German group continued their visit with sightseeing in London and Brighton, including tea at the Houses of Parliament.

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 Cllr Elizabeth Webster and Bürgermeister Heinz Hüppe
sign the reaffirmation charter at the town hall

Cllr Elizabeth Webster and Bürgermeister Heinz Hüppe hoist the festival flag

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2013

LUDLOW’S French Twinning Association welcomed 40 visitors from the town of La Ferté-Macé in Normandy at the end of May, to celebrate 25 years of twinning. The guests were welcomed by civic leaders, and treated to a variety of social and cultural events. Town twinning has a tradition stretching back more than a century, with Keighley being the first British town to forge a “sister cities” link with Suresnes and Puteaux in France, in 1905. The practice really took off after the Second World War.
However, according to a recent BBC News Magazine report, more and more British towns are scrapping their twinning arrangements. Among them are BISHOP’S STORTFORD, which has ended support for its 46-year links with Friedberg and Villiers sur Marne. Council leader John Wyllie remarked that the practice “didn’t have as much relevance in today’s society”.
DONCASTER‘s mayor, Peter Davies, scrapped links with five cities to save cash in 2009. He said: “I don’t think I’ve had one complaint … and there’s no evidence that it made a blind bit of difference to Doncaster’s economy. Only about a dozen people ever benefited from these trips. I can see that it arose out of altruistic motives after the war, but it just became about junkets.”

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2012

 OFFICIALS and dignitaries from Cwmbran’s twin town of Bruchsal in Germany visited the Welsh town in early August as part of a twinning association that began in 1979. CWMBRAN Community Council laid on a full programme of activities for its guests, including visits to local attractions such as Greenmeadow Community Farm, the Congress Theatre and the Big Pit. Members of the delegation also visited local play schemes, schools and a youth centre during their five-day visit, and were treated to a brass band concert and fish and chips.

Clerks & Councils Direct September 2012


WITH reference to your article in the July issue, “Is twinning out of fashion?”, I should like to report that there is a corner of DONCASTER where twinning is alive and well, despite the remarks made by Doncaster’s elected mayor, Peter Davies, who describes twinning, amongst other things, as being “about junkets”.

Our Association is twinned with the town of Merksplas in Belgium. The link was formed because a soldier born in our area who fought to liberate the town was killed in Merksplas during World War II and was awarded a posthumous VC. We were officially “twinned” in 2010, although we started to correspond before this date.

Since the start, our local brass band has been over on two occasions to give concerts, a local primary school has formed links with schools in Merksplas and  regular contact is made through Skype, and exchange visits between teachers have been held. We were also invited to the 65th anniversary of the town’s liberation.

As part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations we have recently hosted approximately 50 people from Merksplas, including 23 young people between the ages of 13 and 15, who were entertained by our local Academy and enjoyed activities at the local Water Park. In the future, we are hoping that our local theatre group will form links and will perform in Merksplas, and other links are being planned.

We are very conscious that local people may regard twinning as a “junket”, which is why all the costs of hosting our friends from Merksplas are met by fundraising. All the costs of our Association members are met by ourselves and none of these costs come from the fundraising or from the public purse.

To answer Mr Davies: no, we don’t make any difference to the local economy, but we have made many friendships and have learned a great deal about another country’s culture – and long may it continue.

Duncan Wright, Secretary
Hatfield and Merksplas Twinning Association, Doncaster

Clerks & Councils Direct September 2012


CWMBRAN Community Council has a long-established twinning arrangement with Bruchsal in Germany. It has remained strong since its inception in 1979. We will be welcoming a delegation from Bruchsal to South Wales again this summer for a series of events which, in keeping with the current focus on “collaboration” across Welsh local government, have been planned in partnership with neighbouring community councils.

As part of the visit, we will be seeking the views of stakeholders on how best to take forward our twinning venture in the light of funding pressures and other changes since the partnership was first formed. We will examine the potential to embrace IT solutions to build on our success to date, ensuring that the arrangement continues to add value in Cwmbran. Other potential ways forward might include focusing future twinning arrangements on particular groups, such as young people.

I would be very interested to hear about the experiences of other councils.

David Collins, Clerk
Cwmbran Community Council

Clerks & Councils Direct September 2012


PENRYN Town Council has awarded nearly £1,500 to local causes under S137 grant rules. Shelter Cornwall received £500 and the town’s twinning association got £300 to promote Penryn abroad and to host visitors from Audierne in Brittany. Other beneficiaries included the town’s arts and community theatre groups, the Lions Club and the Penryn May Day Society.

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2012



FROME welcomed 118 guests from its twin towns of Château-Gontier in France, Murrhardt in Germany and Rabka-Zdrój in Poland for a four-day visit in late June/early July, as it staged the Annual Twinning Quadripartite.

The theme of this year’s meeting was culture and Frome’s contribution included performances by bands, ballet dancers and Morris men, together with the Frome Heritage Trail, a twinning church service and artisan and flea markets.

The guests, who were accommodated by 68 local host families, included a Polish folk group and there were also performances by the young winners of each town’s “Twinning’s Got Talent” competitions. A new garden was officially opened in honour of the newest twin town of Rabka-Zdrój by the Mayor of Frome, Nick White.

Cllr White said, “The visitors left with an excellent memory of the town and its townspeople. We have really put Frome on the map and shown off what it has to offer culturally.”


Clerks & Councils Direct September 2011



MEMBERS of a twinning association with links to France and Germany were nonplussed to discover that an Italian market had been booked for their twinning weekend celebrations. The DEVIZES Twinning Association welcomed 150 visitors from Mayenne in France and Waiblingen in Germany and booked a morning of theatre and music in the town’s Market Place. However, even though Devizes has never had an Italian twin town, they found that Wiltshire Council had booked in an Italian market.

Jasper Selwyn, chairman of the association, said: “It came as a complete surprise to us. It didn’t cause us any problems and our visitors found it quite interesting, but it would have been nice to have been consulted.”

A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said that the town council had been informed when the clash was discovered, but said it was OK to go ahead. Simon Fisher, deputy town clerk, said: “We thought, had it been a French or German market, it might have caused ill feeling that one or other of our guest towns had been left out. But we didn’t think anyone would object to an Italian market.”

Clerks & Councils Direct July 2011



REPRESENTATIVES from SHREWSBURY will visit the twinned town of Zutphen in the Netherlands on 1 May in remembrance of the Second World War. The party will be led by the deputy mayor, Cllr Tony Durnell, who will attend a public remembrance ceremony on 4 May, when he will lay a wreath on the Zutphen War Monument on behalf of the citizens of Shrewsbury.

During their stay, the group will visit the Airborne Museum in Arnhem, the Oosterbeek War Cemetery, the Jewish transition camp Westerbork, Harfsen village (a V1 launching base), the Old Cemetery in Zutphen, the Dutch Resistance Museum and Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam.

Town clerk Helen Ball said: “Since the Second World War Shrewsbury has had first informal and, since 1977, formal twinning links with Zutphen after sending aid to the town in 1945, following its liberation at the end of the war.”

A party from Zutphen will visit Shrewsbury later in the year to mark the end of the First World War on November 11.

Clerks & Councils Direct May 2011



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