South Ribble reunited with twin town after a decade on ice

South Ribble has revived its "special relationship" with twin town Schleswig-Flensburg in Northern Germany after more than a decade on ice.

By Brian Ellis
Tuesday, 19th July 2022, 4:55 am

The two districts have agreed to re-establish their 42-year connection following a visit by a civic delegation from Lancashire to the area close to the Danish border.

Mayor Coun David Howarth, who led the trip, said: "The enthusiasm is there on both sides to rekindle our relationship and I'm delighted we have done.

"The opportunities are endless.

South Ribble Mayor Coun David Howarth with Schleswig Kries President Ulrich Bruggemeier.

"And following Brexit it is far more important than ever that we strengthen our links."

Councillors will be asked to ratify an updated agreement between the two districts at Wednesday's South Ribble Council meeting.

The authority will also set up a cross-party working group to "oversee the implementation and development of our town twinning partnership."

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Schleswig-Flensburg in Northern Germany.

The original twinning agreement was signed on April 15 1980 with the aim of "encouraging friendship, understanding and mutual benefit between the nations".

Since then numerous exchange visits have taken place between the two areas involving mainly schools, sports and community groups.

In 2006 a Schleswig delegation spent three days in South Ribble to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the relationship.

But things cooled off following the global economic downturn in 2008 and have remained low key ever since.

South Ribble twinned with Schleswig-Flensburg in 1980

Now, after two councillors said in 2020 they would like to see the twinning arrangement renewed, contact has been re-established and Zoom meetings have been going on to update the agreement.

"I got the impression (during that time) there just wasn't any appetite (in South Ribble) to have exchanges or put any resources into it," said Coun Howarth.

"Those in power felt resources were better-placed elsewhere,

"It has not been particularly alive over there either, largely because there was no will at this end. But that will is now very much there again.

"They were very welcoming when we went over recently. Everyone was really enthusiastic about kickstarting it all again.

"The next thing will be for a delegation from Germany to come here and visit us.

"We will be looking for that to happen some time next year."

A report to tomorrow's council meeting says: "Despite the 900-mile gap between the two regions, the relationship has been successful and we have continued to share information and learn from each other over the years."

But it adds: "The council’s involvement with town twinning has been limited over recent years."

The South Ribble delegation which visited Germany included the Mayoress, Coun Ange Turner, council leader Coun Paul Foster and Coun Aniela Bylinski Gelder who is the cabinet member for young people and communities.

The updated agreement signed by both sides re-affirmed the commitment made by the two councils in April 1980 and agreed to expand the partnership and strengthen the youth exchange opportunities both digitally and face to face.

There will also be a youth exchange focus on students and young people in training and apprenticeships, as well as town twinning visits between the two councils at least once per election period to share ideas.