The leaders of twinning assocations in Worthing, Adur and Littlehampton have reacted to the United Kingdom’s historic vote to leave the European Union.
Representatives from twinning associations in East Preston, Littlehampton, Adur and Worthing all said that the Leave campaign victory would not affect existing links or future twinning plans, as they are non-political organisations.
James Walsh, from Rustington, is the president of the Littlehampton Twinning Association, which has twinned the town with Chennevieres-sur-Marne in France and Durmersheim in Germany.
He is also a Liberal Democrat councillor for the town, district and county councils.
Dr Walsh said: “From the association’s point of view it won’t make any difference; we will still remain twinned and have a cordial relationship with our twin towns in Germany and France.
“On a personal and councillor level I’m bitterly disappointed because it will make our country much poorer economically, much poorer culturally and much more divided in society.”
My forecast is that in five years’ time, when the full effects have come to be seen, people will rue today and wish it were otherwiseJames Walsh
“My interpretation of the result is that it’s a commentary on the state of politics in this country rather than the actual issues.”
He added that in his experience of twinning, which sees families from both towns staying with each other, it helped dispel misconceptions about both of their cultures.
“My forecast is that in five years’ time, when the full effects have come to be seen, people will rue today and wish it were otherwise. But there’s no going back. The die have been cast, certainly for the next 40 or 50 years.”
Sean McDonald is the mayor of Worthing and also a Conservative member of the borough council, and is the current president of the Worthing Twinning Assocation.
The town is twinned with Le Pays des Olonnes in France and the Elztal region in Germany.
Mr McDonald said he wasn’t surprised by the result. “I don’t think it will have a massive impact on us, and if it does it’ll take a long time. I’m not that concerned. I’m a bit surprised that people are shocked by the result; if you go around the town and talk to people, the grass roots showed it was quite likely to be a leave vote.”
Trevor Passmore, 66, from Coombes, Lancing is a farmer and chairman of the Adur Twinning Association.
He said: “As far as I’m concerned the links remain. The twinning association is a friendship group not a political group, so I can’t see why our friendships have to change in any way.”
Geoffrey Barratt, chairman of the East Preston Twinning Association, was confident their relationship with Brou in France would remain unchanged.
Mr Barratt, 88, said that the twinning in 1978 came at a time when greater links with France and Germany were encouraged.
“The twinning is a reflection of the value of being connected to other countries, particularly in Europe. There was a feeling post-war that the events of the Second World War should never happen again.”
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