Civic twinning visits set to finish?

CIVIC twinning visits could be temporarily halted as a council cash saving measure during these financially austere times.

Skegness’s German twin town Bad Gandersheim has cancelled its civic visits in the wake of a 30million euro deficit, prompting the Mayor of Skegness Coun Steve Kirk to ask his fellow councillors whether they felt the local financial situation warranted similar action.

The suggestion divided opinion among many of those present at Wednesday’s meeting, some of whom felt it undermined the value of such visits while others were keen to see savings implemented wherever possible.

Coun Carl Macey said: “I believe in these times of austerity it’s probably the best move - anywhere where we can save money, we should.”

Others felt such a move to be premature given the ‘minimal costs’ involved and feared it could be difficult to reinstate if cancelled, thereby damaging European relations.

As a twinning member, Coun George Saxon expressed his support for the cultural exchanges which he believed to be ‘terrific value for money’.

Coun Mark Anderson echoed Coun Saxon’s views and explained that such visits were not just a ‘jolly’ but a useful means to cultivate friendships and learn about alternative ways of life.

Without a reciprocal offer from the German councillors, Coun Steve O’Dare felt it unwise for Skegness Town Council to take on the entire financial burden, particularly when twinning visits could continue unaffected without the need for any civic involvement.

However, town centre manager Stefan Krause explained that European Social Fund money could be applied for to cover the expenses.

He believes that Bad Gandersheim was ‘very optimist’ of receiving funding through the scheme, which could enable civic delegates from the town to resume their visits in the near future.

Given the uncertainty over the Germans’ current situation, councillors decided it would be best to hold off making a decision until they can find out what the position of their European counterparts is.