Twinning is on the table for town team

TOWN twinning could be on the agenda for Morpeth.

A working group has been formed by Morpeth Town Council to look into the idea and consult with other local organisations.

It follows a request from Menorca to twin with Morpeth due to their Admiral Lord Collingwood links. The Trafalgar hero’s home was in Morpeth, but he was based in Menorca at the end of his life.

The council has always resisted twinning in the past, but Coun Nic Best urged a re-think, saying funding is now available from the European Union and modern schemes are much more community-based.

He said: “The town council has been dead-set against any form of twinning in all the time I have been involved, but there is significant European funding available, up to 100,000 Euros, not only for supporting twinning, but also for investigating the options and possibilities of twinning.

“Now it is more about exchanges between young people, school links, community groups and business organisations working together. It is not about councillors going off on jollies to the Med.”

Coun Bob Robertson agreed it should be considered if there was a benefit to the community, but suggested that a Northern European country may be more suitable due to similarities in culture.

However, Coun Mark Horton was concerned about increasing the workload for council staff.

And Coun Dave Pope said: “I would take a great deal of convincing that there is great merit for Morpeth in pursuing the idea of twinning.

“I worked for 20 years in a school in Blyth and was involved in a lot of the twinning activities with Solingen. It took a great deal of effort and public money to organise and to be honest, in those 20 years I couldn’t see any local benefit to come to the town or to the young people.”

But members Stuart Lishman and Alison Byard both suggested looking into the potential benefits for young people.

Coun Ken Brown said: “There is a project to be defined here. Perhaps it is a task for a small group of people to look at what the criteria is, what kind of town would be right to twin with and what benefits we would get.

“As part of the investigation the Town Team stakeholder group might be a good vehicle to run the proposal past. It has kids from King Edward VI School, Scouts, residents and retail outlets.”

The council agreed to set up a working group of councillors Best, Brown and Byard to look into the options and consult with the Town Team stakeholders, before presenting their findings to the council in the autumn.