Zreče crest

Rationale for Town Twinning in Sedbergh

Most town twinning arrangements were set up following the Second World War. Town twinnings and partnerships in Europe were a way of building friendship, bringing together people who had fought on opposite sides and of consolidating existing alliances. The concept of twinning began in Europe as early as the turn of the last century, with the first recorded UK link in 1920 between Keighley, West Yorkshire and Poix du Nord in France. The number of twinning links increased significantly after the War to aid the process of peace and reconciliation. They grew in number and flourished as young people came and went across the Channel. A second wave of enthusiasm for town twinning took place in the 1970s and 80s, following the UK’s entry into the European Economic Community.

Town twinning in Sedbergh is seen as a concept that includes the friendship-and-understanding aspect of many twin-town arrangements in the past and goes beyond that into more 21st-century objectives. Our aims in Sedbergh are:

•  to provide an opportunity for the community to look outwards
•  to help stimulate business ideas and openings
•  to give opportunies for the more disadvantaged members of our community to broaden their horizons
•  to raise Sedbergh’s profile nationally and internationally
•  periodically at least, to liven up the town a little

Since the first UK international twinning arrangements in the 1920’s, and their rapid growth in the 1950’s, town twinning, or sister cities as it’s sometimes called, has passed through a number of phases in terms of people’s general perception. Currently, it is seen as a positive activity within and by the EU.

The EU website page, Twinning Towns for Unity is positive, if somewhat hard to get a grip on: ‘EU support for town twinning injects a structuring effect and strengthens the strategic direction, as well as the European content, of such activities.

We in Sedbergh are developing our town-twinning goals. We have achieved each of the above five bullet-pointed aims to some degree. A challenge that remains is business ideas and openings, see Town Twinning and Economic Development. The other four aims have been satisfyingly moving forward, in particular with regard to school and musical exchanges, of which there have been a number each year since our town twinning arrangement began (see topics list on left).

Sedbergh began to look at finding a twin town in 2001 following the economically-depressing effect of the 2001 foot and mouth crisis (see Why and how we entered into twinning). Twinning was one idea for helping stimulate economic development; see Town Twinning and Economic Development.

Sedbergh Town Twinning – Economic Development

Economic Development Aspects of Sedbergh’s Town Twinning Initiative
No community, be it a place or a company, ever develops by looking inwards. It needs to look abroad; be ready to take on new ideas; to understand what others of similar type are doing and how they are doing it. If it does not do that then it puts itself at risk of being left behind, or at the very least of not knowing whether it is being left behind or not.

By looking outwards, contacts are made, ideas are assimilated, mistakes and shortcomings identified, and as a result, in a way that is often surprising, you find yourself getting bigger; this applies to a community as much as it does to a business.

There is nothing scientifically advanced about this – it’s what successful organisations have always done. Looking outwards stimulates growth.

It is not the job of a town-twinning arrangement to open up new markets for a local product overseas direct, that should be the job of the individual businesses or local trade organisation; more that initiatives raise awareness of what an overseas community of similar type and problems produces and by planning events the local community can, among other things, help boost the occupancy figures of the guesthouses and B&Bs. The twinning partnership is there to help the community gain a wider view.

The economic development success is indirect. Look outwards. Learn about the ways of others. (see Look Outwards. Learn Others’ Ways.).