Why Twin Towns could be the secret ingredient

February 6, 2017

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By Gina Wilson, Carnegie UK Trust

Carnegie UK is excited to welcome five brand new twin town partnerships across the four countries of the UK.

  • Broughshane & Wooler
  • Newbiggin-by-the-Sea & Withernsea
  • Whitburn & Oswaldtwistle
  • Fishguard and Goodwick and Berwick-upon-Tweed
  • Merthyr Tydfil and North Shields

Rather than facing the innumerable challenges of sustaining vibrant town communities in isolation, these towns are already finding that they share many common issues and concerns that they can address together.

“This is a great opportunity to share ideas to tackle common problems. We have some notable successes and some equally dismal experiences.”

Jeremy Martineau, Fishguard and Goodwick Chamber Secretary

Our Twin Towns UK project is founded on a belief that exchanging knowledge, skills and social capital can be achieved irrespective of miles! Following an open call for interested towns, and a selection and matching process assisted by an Expert Reference Group, this is the beginning of the five twinning partnerships learning journey. We’re excited to see how sharing experiences and reflecting on their distinct back stories will support the twinned towns to develop projects that will address a single or several issues that their communities identify as being critical to their future.

The enthusiasm and energy with which the organisations have embraced their partnerships is just a small demonstration of the commitment that communities across the UK have towards making their towns better places to live, work and visit.

“It will give us the opportunity to broaden our horizons and mutually identify fresh approaches to make the towns more economically robust, provide good jobs, be a destination people want to visit and local residents are proud of.”

Kevan Hough, Chair of the Withernsea & South East Holderness Regeneration Partnership

Towns will be undertaking exchange visits in the next few months to get to know their respective places, cultures, issues and assets. Joint development and action planning will take place, benefiting from the objectivity that comes with a fresh pairs of eyes looking at your environment – and with the freedom of working with a partner that isn’t competing for scarce local resources.

“If this scheme simply allows us to steal some of Broughshane’s best ideas it will be worth it. But there’s a real possibility it could make a significant difference to our community too. It’s always worth taking the time to look at how other successful organisations do things.”

Frank Mansfield, Chair of the Glendale Gateway Trust

Projects will be developed over the next 18 months, they might include things like:

  • revitalising a disused but much loved building within the town;
  • developing a focused tourism marketing campaign for the respective towns;
  • re-invention of an economically viable street market in a town centre;
  • creation of a new social enterprise on the high street designed and delivered by young people in the town.

We know that these twinnings take place within the bigger picture of important local democratic planning processes. We hope the work of these pilots will contribute to and aid these planning mechanisms, rather than duplicating anything that is already taking place at local level.

Ultimately, we hope to demonstrate that change can happen. And it can be led by anyone that is willing to look for unusual friends.

Follow our progress #TwinTownsUK