Twinning

  • We live in one of the most internationally-minded parts of the UK. 
  • There are no active twinning arrangements in place, so there’s a great opportunity to start afresh and establish new partnerships.
  • Let’s bring together local stakeholders in education, business and community groups to make the case for twinning.

Wandsworth currently has no outlet to express the international outlook of its people: an unusually high proportion were born elsewhere in Europe, and notably there are strong concentrations of French and Polish residents.

In the 2016 referendum, the residents of the borough gave one of the strongest votes to Remain, outnumbering the Leave vote three to one. Building up ties with a like-minded community on the Continent would increase mutual understanding and show common purpose as city-dwellers across Europe face major challenges in the years ahead. An active new partnership would raise the profile of the borough and show that local people reject the isolationist mindset  Brexit has encouraged.

Providing a focus for international outreach will enrich learning in local schools and colleges. Even if the programme is not directly tied to language learning, twinning will create a valuable new context for dialogue and debate, and for cooperation and possible exchange visits in the context of cultural and sporting opportunities.

As long as twinning catches the imagination of local voluntary groups who are prepared to drive forward the relationship, all these benefits should come at minimal cost to council budgets.

Wandsworth has twinned with two European partners in the past: Schiedam in the Netherlands, and tiny Villers-Plouich in Picardy, northern France. But maybe we should now be thinking about our shared interest with another capital city: a Berlin borough perhaps, or part of greater Paris.

Our organisation is strong in Merton as well as Wandsworth: our twinning/Merton page is on its way!

The Plan of Action

Political Parties

Secure support from local political parties, not just groups on the Council:  focus on common objective of enriching life in Wandsworth.

Business Case

Develop the business case:  Identify and justify running cost implications for Council or other local bodies, and returns from any up-front capital investment.

Revive Partnerships

Reach out to counterparts in Schiedam, proposing revival of link;  and ensure the symbolic connection to Villers-Plouich endures.

Berlin?

Explore opportunities for new partnerships, including potential for twinning with a Berlin borough, given the city-level link in place since 2020;  and seek advice and support from relevant Embassies in opening doors.

Engage

Engage with other local players including schools and colleges, community organisations, and business groups.

Bench Mark

Learn from experience of the Richmond in Europe movement, and ā€“ in return for support from the European Movement at national level ā€“ help other local areas get twinning off the ground ā€“ starting with Merton.

Twinning Committee

Set up an embryonic Town Twinning Committee for Wandsworth to tap local enthusiasm and coordinate community-led activities to support new partnership(s) and reap the rewards.