Twinning Association under fire from Councillors

Champs-sur-Marne Twinning Sign

Members of Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) have criticised the town’s Twinning Association after the group retrospectively applied for a grant towards the cost of a meal at which visitors from the twin town of Champs-sur-Marne were entertained earlier this year.

Residents of the French town visited Bradley Stoke over the weekend of 2nd/3rd May and took part in a meeting that involved the then-Mayor Robert Jones and staff of Bradley Stoke Community School.

Before flying back to Paris, the French visitors were treated to a meal at a pub in the vicinity of Bristol Airport.

The Twinning Association then submitted a retrospective application for Grant Aid of £250, which was considered at the BSTC Planning Committee on 27th May.

The Committee rejected the request on the grounds that it “didn’t conform to the requirements of Grant Aid applications”, but recommended that an ex-gratia payment of £125 be made under the Council’s policy of ‘match funding’.

The meeting was also told that a grant of £400 to the Association had been approved in 2006 but remained unpaid on the later orders of Council (in 2007) “pending further financial information”.

The matter led to a heated debate at last week’s meeting of Full Council, where some Councillors were critical of the fact that the guests had been entertained in North Somerset rather than at a local hostelry.

Cllr Julian Barge was particularly critical of the Association, claiming that it had “virtually disintegrated” and “needed to get  its act together”. He said the group should be asked to provide a list of its officials and members and provide the Council with sight of its accounts.

In the end Councillors voted to approve the £125 payment, with five votes for and three abstentions.

Cllrs Roger Avenin and Brian Hopkinson, who had been selected as the Council’s representatives on the Twinning Association’s Committee at the Council’s AGM, were instructed to meet with the Association to discuss the Council’s concerns.

Anne Clark, Chair of the Twinning Association, told The Journal that she was was unaware of the Council’s discussions and expressed disappointment on being told of the critical comments made by Councillors.

She added that the Association would be holding its AGM in the next few weeks and looked forward to receiving support from the Council’s representatives.

The Journal Comments

The Twinning Association may have lost its way in the last few years but the Council has done little or nothing to help. The last mention of the Association in the Council’s Annual Report was back in 2005/2006.

Almost ten years after the signing of the twinning agreement in 2000, there is no information about the Twinning Association to be found on the Council’s website.

Let’s hope that Cllrs Avenin and Hopkinson can sort out this mess in time for the 10th anniversary celebrations next year.

Related Link: Bradley Stoke Twinning Association (The Journal)

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