WLOCLAWEK in POLAND
At present I am nursing a badly bruised left arm caused by a fall during a visit to Wloclawek in Poland 10 days ago. This trip was organised by Dom Polski, an Anglo Polish social club in Bedford and we paid our own costs although the Mayor of Wloclawek hosted 2 social functions for the 23 strong Bedford Group.
In 2003 just before Poland joined the European Union and Polish immigration was rising fast the Mayor of Bedford downgraded Wloclawek from official twin town to friendship status. The stated reason was the weakness of the Polish link but Bedford has a large Polish community, 2 Polish Clubs, a Polish church, shops and restaurants.
Much of Bedford's town twinning budget goes on the link with Bamberg in Germany and some is allocated to Bedford's other official twin town, Rovigo in Italy, which has strong sporting links with Bedford and there is a large Italian community in Bedford. Official hospitality is no longer extended to visitors from Wloclawek.
The Borough Corporate & Resource Committee which I chair conducted a detailed
9-month Twinning Policy Review into whether the twinning budget offers value for money for Bedford Borough taxpayers and our conclusion was negative. No grants are offered to voluntary town twinning or international community groups.
In March we made 18 Policy Recommendations to the Executive based on their stated objective of facilitating community engagement in twinning. This Report has been largely ignored, although some minor changes have been made.
As a member of Bedford Bamberg Association and Dom Polski I have visited Bamberg, Wloclawek and also Rovigo and will continue to support community twinning exchanges.