Council could start allocating funds to twinning strategy after Brexit

MORE council cash to secure 'important' twinning links with other countries could be allocated as Portsmouth looks to expand its horizons after Brexit.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 3:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 1:02 pm
Vice chair of Zhuhai, Zhu Qingqiao, pictured with the leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, and the Portsmouth delegation during a trade mission to China last year.

City councillors discussed the potential to earmark money for its growing twinning strategy rather than finding funds on an ‘ad hoc basis’.

Portsmouth already has various cultural and economic links with locations around the world including Caen in France, Duisburg in Germany, Zhuhai in China and Sydney in Australia.

And more recently the council has linked with Sylhet in Bangladesh and made plans to create further trade and educational links with China.

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Speaking at a resources meeting todayMON27 former city Lord Mayor and head of the Portsmouth Pensioners Association, Alan Burnett, praised the idea of expanding the twinning scheme.

He said: 'It's not a local domestic issue but it is important because our economy in Portsmouth is twinned with the global economy.

'It's very important to our ferry port as well as the university and major companies like Airbus.'

Councillors also approved of expansion plans but had concerns about funding, which is primarily done by individual twinning groups in the city.

Former resources boss and member of the Progressive Portsmouth People group, Councillor Jeanette Smith, said: ‘I do have concerns. We need more than two people to be able to do this strategy.

'If we want to take it seriously I think we need a plan in the budget to increase the team.’

Cabinet member for resources, Cllr Tom Wood, said: ‘My idea is this is more about changing the way of doing this than increasing the team.

‘I had the idea of putting it into the budget but then I worry does it become a bit of political football? If there’s visible support for it staying in the budget across all parties I'd be happy to explore that.

‘But it feels like everyone likes the idea of it being funded from the budget rather than an ad hoc basis.’

Cllr Lee Mason, who led several twinning trips during his time as Lord Mayor, added: ‘For the last few years most of our twinning has been self-funded.

‘The Sydney and Portsmouth link had an event this weekend. 106 members attended and we raised £600 for the Australian Red Cross.’

No formal decision to allocate funds from the budget was made but the expanded twinning strategy was approved.