Plans to save twin towns from the axe

A KEY man behind Doncaster's twin town links is bidding to save the borough's international relations.

Colin Jeynes, the former chief executive of Doncaster Council, wants to form a new group to lead the town's twinning activities if the council scraps the current arrangements.

Councillors are considering whether to withdraw town twinning support after mayor Peter Davies proposed the plan in one of his first acts in power.

Mr Davies, who labelled the arrangements as a "waste of money", wants to put the town twinning hospitality budget - currently 4,000 for 2009/10 - to other uses.

The borough is linked with Herten in Germany, Gliwice in Poland, Avion in France, Dandong in China and Wilmington in the United States.

Mr Jeynes, supported by former civic mayor Coun Tony Sockett and Doncaster Youth Jazz Orchestra director John Ellis, said the withdrawal of council funding would make it difficult for Doncaster groups and their international counterparts to continue their long-standing friendships.

Mr Jeynes, who signed many of Doncaster's international agreements during his spell at the council in the 1980s, said: "Nobody is seeking a fight with the mayor on this.

"Whether the council participates or not is irrelevant to me.

"What matters is that there is an organisation which those who believe in international peace and friendship can turn to for help, advice and guidance."

Coun Sockett, who used to organise youth exchanges in his former role as a council officer, said: "The intention is to include all the international links in the town under an umbrella organisation.

"It would include parish links, links between organisations and even those between individuals - not just the headline twinnings by the council.

Mr Ellis, whose jazz orchestra group has enjoyed cultural exchanges to Herten for over 20 years, said he could see the mayor's argument for withdrawing funding.

But he said the move, if it goes ahead, would not have to signal the end of twinning arrangements.

He said: "The council has never paid a penny towards the jazz orchestra's twinning ventures but that hasn't stopped us from making our contribution to international peace and understanding."

The trio will discuss setting up the new group in a meeting at the Northern Jazz Centre on Beckett Road on Tuesday, November 10, (7.30pm).

Anyone who wants to see the twinning connections continue are welcome to attend.

People intending to turn up can notify Mr Jeynes by email at colin@thejeynesfamily.com or by post to 44, Axholme Road, Doncaster DN2 4AW.