Feb 17 2011 By Dan Coombs
Hillingdon's town twin Schleswig in Germany.
THE extensive reach of Hillingdon Council's cuts has been felt as far as Germany- with one town facing the axe from a 50-year twinning programme.
Hillingdon is twinned with three towns, but a review of the link-up has recommended that a half a century partnership with Schleswig be called to a halt.
Hillingdon is also twinned with Emden in Germany, and Mantes-La-Jolie in France, and these link-ups will continue, despite the service being used by just eight people last year.
In total since 2005, the council has spent £56,000 on its town twinning programme.
The partnership began with the old Hayes and Harlington Urban District Council in 1958.
Schleswig was earmarked for the chop after a working group of councillors discovered there had been no communication between Hillingdon and Schleswig for over two years.
The council report into town twinning reads: "There are few benefits to local residents in the current twinning relationship. It is clear that the cost of running the current activities, particularly the exchanges, is high and the reach is low – in 2010 just eight young people from Hillingdon participated."
However, the local authority are keen to build on the link-up with Emden and Mantes-La-Jolie, stressing that the towns were particularly keen on exchange students, and it was in fact Hillingdon letting the partnership down.
The report continued that Uxbridge High School is the only secondary school to show an interest, and equally, while primary schools have sought a French partner, none have been forthcoming.
There used to be a group made up of local volunteers called the Hillingdon Town Twinning Association, who assisted the council with events and activities, but membership dwindled in the past decade, and the association stopped functioning in 2008.
Town twinning began after World War Two as a way of building links between European countries.
One idea Hillingdon are keen on is the possibility of sending young people abroad on work placements, but at this stage no further developments have been made.
The council also want to invite representatives from Emden and Mantes-La-Jolie to the borough's events, such as the Hayes Carnival, and BigFest in Uxbridge. They have set aside a budget of £8,500 for this coming year.
A decision to formalise the ending of the partnership with Schleswig will be taken at tomorrow night's cabinet meeting. (17/2)
SCHLESWIG: fact file - see page 2