Cash for twin town event could be cut from civic budget
IMPASSIONED appeals have been made to town councillors after a threatened withdrawal of support and funding to Frome's twinning association.
In a paper compiled by the town clerk after discussion between Mayor Dickon Moore, past mayor councillor Pippa Goldfinger and council leader Mel Usher, one of the seven recommendations to town councillors was not to allocate a budget or staff time towards the Frome quadripartite event in 2015.
Frome has been twinned with Chateau Gontier in France for more than 30 years, Murrhardt in Germany and most recently Rabka in Poland.
Over the years strong links through twinning have been forged with the town's schools, including Frome Community College, the fire station, tennis and football clubs, as well as individuals and families.
In 2015 Frome is playing host to the quadripartite. According to clerk Paul Wynne, staff time required to organise the last event in Frome was significant and given current and likely future workloads allocated, a large portion of staff time to this in 2014/15 is not realistic.
At a meeting of the internal affairs committee last Wednesday Hilary Daniel, one of the twinning founders, described the importance of the friendships and links built up over the years and called the proposals to withdraw support as a "gratuitous slap in the face".
Chairman of the twinning association and a town and district councillor, Damon Hooton warned that the association would fold if it did not have the support of the town council.
Mr Hooton explained that European funding could only be applied for and granted through a local authority which was why the association needed town council backing. Twinning events were usually organised and funded by the twinning association itself.
Several councillors felt that large civic events linked with twinning benefited a minority rather than the majority of Frome people.
But councillor Claire Hudson said the council was at risk of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
She added: "I don't want us to spend lots of money and officer time in jollies, rather we should be looking at the possibilities the quadripartite offers and how we want it to be."
Councillors agreed to continue working with the association to deliver the objectives of twinning, although funding of large civic events would not be forthcoming.