West Bank invitation for twinning crusader

A Preston councillor has been invited to go on a special fact finding mission to Palestine.

Coun Michael Lavalette received an invitation from the Palestinian authority asking him to spend a week in the West Bank in response to his proposals to twin Preston with Nablus.

Coun Lavalette intends to use the trip to gather information. He will then share this with groups and organisations both in Preston and further afield.

He will be accompanied by representatives from Preston's mosques, trade unions and other bodies when he visits the country in September.

He was surprised to have received the invitation from the Palestinians as his twinning proposals were rejected.

Coun Lavalette said: "When you do this sort of thing in Preston you don't really think people in Palestine will pay a huge amount of attention. I got a shock when I received this letter."

The group will have to find the money to pay for their flights, but their accommodation and travel passes will be taken care of by the Palestinian Authority.

Coun Lavalette said the first part of the trip will see them spend time in Jerusalem.

He said: "We will probably fly into Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and try to fit in a visit to the Holocaust Museum and meet people in Israel and peace organisations."

The group will then move on to Palestine.

Coun Lavalette said: "We will have a look around at the conditions people live in and the peace wall. We will also talk to people in the West Bank."

Coun Lavalette hopes the trip will allow North West organisations to forge links with some of those in the West Bank.

Coun Lavalette and his travel companions all plan to give talks and share all of the information they glean from the trip with as many people as possible.

He is willing to visit schools to talk about any aspect of the trip following his return in September.

Anyone who is interested in joining the delegation, should their be any spaces left, can write to Coun Lavalette at the Town Hall, Lancaster Road, Preston, to be included in a selection process.

e-mail: laura.kennerley@lep.co.uk