Headlines: April 15th, 2008

The first comprehensive list of twinned towns shows how the arrangements have evolved from cultural and social links to those that help to create jobs and stimulate investment. The survey, carried out by the Local Government Association, shows twinning links and international partnerships have expanded to every continent.

The survey’s detailed findings show there are 2,527 twinned town links around the globe and that 87 countries have twinning links with the UK. The majority of twinnings are with French and German towns but eight per cent are with Former Eastern Block counties, seven per cent are with North America. Five per cent with Asia, two per cent with Africa and one per cent with towns in South America and Oceania.

The study says that while twinning began in the aftermath of two World Wars to foster peace and understanding, by the early 1990s British towns and cities began to reassess their twinning relationships. This resulted in a move towards the economic aspects.

Chris White, the Chairman of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said the development of economic and cultural ties through twinning was becoming more relevant and important. “Today, councils and their residents are looking further afield and forming links with Middle Eastern and Asian countries not only to boost cultural understanding but also to help generate jobs andi nvestment,” he said.

The study reveals there is a waiting list of overseas places wishing to be twinned with British towns and cities. They include places in Africa, India, Argentina, China and Russia. The list also looks at some of the unusual links that already exist, including Hay-on-Wye being twinned with Timbuktu, Manchester’s links with Sulaymaniya in Iraq and Haworth in West Yorkshire having Macchu Picchu in Peru as a twintown.