Town twinning in its last throes

Councillor Stuart Marshall.
Councillor Stuart Marshall.

Hawick’s 42-year town twinning relationship with Bailleul appears to be coming to an end after efforts failed to rekindle interest.

Hawick Community Council chair Marion Short told this month’s meeting that the town twinning group’s efforts have stalled and that “nothing is happening”.

Councillor Stuart Marshall says he is “at a loss” and admitted that the twinning group no longer exists.

Attempts were made last year to kick-start the relationship with the French town but the resignation of twinning chairman Alf Oliver once again brought things to a standstill.

Speaking this week, Councillor Marshall, whose Provost Council was initially driving the new efforts, said: “The Provost Council met recently to address the ongoing problem of the formation of an effective town twinning committee and to be honest we seem to be at a loss as to how best to get this off the ground.

“While our current arrangements with Bailleul still exist, there is, however, no actual body or group to oversee exchange visits.”

Mr Marshall says he will now seek advice from other Borders town with twinning links.

He added: “It’s a real shame that while there is still a strong link with Bailleul, we in Hawick cannot get people to commit a small amount of time to this committee. I think one of the major reasons behind this is social media and more modern ways of people keeping in touch with friends overseas.

“It is my intention to speak with other towns in the Borders who have twinning arrangements and to see how they operate. I intend to report my findings back to the Provost Council in the near future.”

Echoing Councillor Marshall’s concerns, fellow Hawick and Denholm ward member Watson McAteer said: “Our twinning arrangement with Bailleul is facing a real challenge as a result of a declining level of interest in the town.

“We are currently in the process of gauging the interests of the primary schools where French language remains a curriculum activity.

While there is some indication of wider support much more is needed if we are to secure this long-established relationship.

He added: “Those who have been keeping this going despite the problems deserve great credit but it is now up to Hawick folk to decide what they want the future of our twinning arrangements to look like.”