Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei. Or not as Cambridgeshire postpones decision on German twinning link

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Cambridgeshire has postponed a decision on whether or not to pull out of Europe – or, put differently, whether to end its 30 year twinning arrangement with the German municipality of Kreis Viersen.

Mark Lloyd, the county council’s chief executive, said the time was “appropriate to consider the future of this relationship”.

But his report, suggesting an end to the twinning link and pointing out that the world has “changed significantly” since the twinning began was withdrawn and will be debated at a local date.

A council spokesman said there had been representations about the moves to end the twinning link and as a consequence the matter would be discussed at a later date.

Mr Lloyd had pushed for the twinning link to end pointing out that “as the financial pressures have mounted over the last five years we would have to admit that we have allowed the activity we would normally expect through a twinning link to lie dormant”.

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He said, in his report, that he had spoken with the leaders of the council’s five political groups and they all “anticipate at least five and possibly 10 more years of austerity within UK public services.

“Given the pressures the council faces to meet the needs of our community, they agree that it is highly unlikely that any resources will be available to revive the link between our two countries.”

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Mr Lloyd felt the original goals have been fulfilled and that whilst acknowledging its success it is time to “draw to an end our formal twinning arrangement.”

First links with Kries Viersen – a German region on the border with the Netherlands- were established as far back as 1971 when schools and sports clubs began exchange visits.

The informal arrangement continued for 12 years when it was formalised in ceremonies held in St Ives and Kempen in Kreis Viersen.

“The main hub of activity geographically was in Fenland although there was also an emphasis on singing and choirs,” said Mr Lloyd.

He said some achievements were impressive, and in the 1980s the friends’ group in Germany raised DM18, 000 for the restoration of Ely Cathedral. This is commemorated in a marble plaque located behind the high altar in St Etheldreda’s Chapel.

But over the last decade Mr Lloyd said financial restraints and the change in nature of local government meant the exchanges were less regular. In 2011 an attempt was made to revive it but “whilst there was good will and a belief in principle, nothing new emerged”.

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