New Mayor: "Twin towns, passport to peace"

Friday, May 20, 2005

Cllr Stewart Brown, the new Mayor of Hebden Royd, last week addressed a Europe Day conference in Hebden Bridge's twin town of Saint-Pol-sur-Ternoise in France. The theme of the conference was "Europe, what are the stakes for local democracy". The host Mayor - Maurice Louf - and Mayor Manfred Godde of Warstein in Germany (with which both councils are twinned) also gave presentations.

In his speech Cllr Brown described the role of local councils in the UK, their relationship with Europe, and the role of twinning in a new agenda for engagement with Europe. He said: "It was a little daunting speaking in french for 20 minutes or so, but making the effort seemed to be appreciated. Thankfully I'd been well coached by Joyce Newton from the International Group."

Cllr Brown added: "I tried to emphasise that whatever happens with the proposed European constitution, twinning will remain important - it has proved to be a passport to peace, to knowing and understanding each other better - but I think more can be done. Eventually, I'd like to see the creation of a European Forum of Local Councils to facilitate the exchange of information and mutual dialogue, including dialogue with the European Commission. Meanwhile, twin towns can work together in this direction by engaging more closely and investigating each other's models of organisation and delivery. By sharing our experiences - and perhaps even developing joint projects - I believe we can improve the way we work, and together grow richer in many ways. I hope the conference will be the start of a change for the better, a turning point, in the way our councils relate to one another".

See also: Trip to Twin Town


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