Meeting of Woking Town Twinning Task Group
Last night I chaired the first meeting of the task group set up to review Woking’s town twinning arrangements. The task group was set up following a meeting of the Executive in December, where I proposed that the council should examine what benefits there would be in establishing a formal partnership with a similar sized town or borough in a developing country such as Brazil, Russia, India, China or South Africa.
As part of our inquiry we invited Marlie Roes and Chris Sansom from the Woking Town Twinning Association to give evidence about the work they are doing in promoting the relationship between Woking and our current twin towns, Amsteleveen in the Netherlands, Le Plessis-Robinson in France and Rastatt in Germany. They gave an informative presentation highlighting some of the school, sports and commercial exchanges that have taken place between Woking and our twin towns over the last year, and which helped us understand the limited financial constraints the association operates under and how little resources are available for town twinning activities.
Amongst the conclusions our group drew from its first meeting was that any new town twinning arrangement must deliver a clear economic benefit to the borough in terms of job creation or inward investment, and what the project should be cost neutral so the taxpayer does not bear a greater financial burden for town twinning activity than at present.
Over the next few months the task group will be taking forward a public consultation where we will be seeking views from businesses in Woking about what sort of international civic and commercial links they would like to see between Woking and the developing world. We hope to complete our work and prepare a recommendation to the Executive by the end of the year.