Pontypool twinning costs reach £19k

First published in News

TWINNING cost Pontypool Community Council (PCC) close to £20,000 in 2013, it can be revealed.

The combined cost of hosting this year’s Twinning Conference and Youth Festival, held in August, was £22,755 community council records indicate – with the council picking up 85 per cent of the bill.

But the community council was prepared to spend more on the two events – designed to bring together young people from ‘twinned’ towns in France, Germany and Portugal – with £27,000 put aside, a draft budget shows.

Earlier this month it was decided the council was handing over future responsibility and funding of the cultural arrangement, due to ‘ridiculous’ costs which could not be justified to residents.

Fears were previously raised over the cost of twinning in 2009 – the last time the conference and festival were hosted locally – when a draft budget of £24,000 was revealed to councillors.

But that year the council, which has an annual income of around £545,000, received an EU grant towards the event for £12,500 meaning its actual spend was only to be £11,000.

The total cost of the two events this year was £22,750, with more than £11,000 spent on accommodating 42 people at Hilston Park, Gilwern – nearly 15 miles away from ‘host’ Pontypool.

Trips to and from the airport totalled £3,500, while a further £960 was spent on a lunch-time buffet at Pontypool Active Living centre and £1,310 was spent on an evening meal at Garn Hall. £547 was also spent on t-shirts.

The Youth Council provided £2,000 towards the event, while the Welsh Church Fund gave £350, and the German party supplied £416.

The other £19,988 was picked up by PCC.

Council chairman Giles Davies said: “This is an issue which has been ongoing for ten years. I am not against twinning but there are people in the community who can’t put food on their plates. This is a time of cuts, we need to make better use of tax payers money.”

Pontypool Twinning Association will assume control of future events.

But fears have since been raised for the future of the arrangement without the support of the community council.

Chairman of Pontypool Twinning Association Maurice Morgan said: “I do not see the Twinning Conference and Youth Festival going ahead in the future due to the withdrawal of funding. The association can’t raise that amount on its own."

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