Councillor proposes public consultation on town twinning

Members of the public could be asked for their suggestions on town twinning after councillor John Dolan suggested the municipal district start a process of town twinning for towns in the area to help encourage potential tourists and employment providers to the area.

“Breada O’Toole from the IDA met with the Economic, Development, Enterprise, and Community Strategic Policy Committee where she spoke of the different ways to promote the area and county abroad. She suggested town twinning, especially with the USA,” explained Cllr Dolan.

The Fine Gael councillor added that the twinning could be beneficial for areas in the county that need “a lift”. “When the IDA ask we should sit up and note it. Their idea should be taken on board. We need to link major towns in Westmeath with US or European towns,” he added.

“Greater exposure is always positive,” said Cllr Aengus O’Rourke. “I’d like to see the towns in the county drive this themselves.”

Moate Independent councillor Michael O’Brien agreed that the people of Westmeath need to get involved themselves. “Get communities involved - when you give them a say tourism works,” he explained.

In a written response to the motion the council said that no budget has been provided in 2015 for town twinning other than the existing arrangement between Athlone and Chateaubriand in Brittany.

District manager Pat Keating suggested that the SPC develop the idea more before bringing it to the corporate policy group - it would then return to the councillors.

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