Skipton set to get French twin town

First published in News

Skipton is set to get a new twin town in France.

Despite some concerns from councillors, Skipton Town Council has agreed to push ahead and link up with Erquinghem-Lys.

At the council’s annual general meeting on Thursday, councillors were told that Erquinghem – close to Leeds’ twin town of Lille – had a strong affinity with Britain and Yorkshire.

The town, which is close to Belgium and Ypres, was at the heart of activity in World War One and World War Two.

It is close to a number of war memorials and war graves, including Somme, Arras and a unique graveyard in Erquinghem.

The town also has strong links with the Duke of Wellington Regiment – now part of the Yorkshire Regiment.

The Dukes have the keys to Erquinghem as a result of the bravery of a member of the regiment in the First World War.

There is a monument to the regiment in the town and, in August, the regiment will have a roundabout in Erquinghem named after it.

Councillors were told that the town was ideal for school visits as it was easily accessible by road and train.

Lille is on a direct Eurostar route and there are many road links from the Channel tunnel and ports.

Councillors, who heard that the twinning proposals had the support of the Duke of Wellington Regiment and the Royal British Legion, were told the town had a strong children’s council, which suggested the potential for exchange visits and the possibility of setting up a similar council in Skipton.

Council leader Paul English said most people he had spoken to were in favour of twinning with the French town.

And he believed the connection with the Dukes and the accessibility of the war graves would be of great historical interest.

Coun Polly English said it could benefit young people in Skipton by opening up potential exchange visits.

“It is easily visited as it is just the other side of the Channel. I think, for the future education of children in this town, we should take this on.”

But Coun Wendy Clark said she thought it was the wrong time.

“I don’t think, in a recession, that we should be taking the town down this route. All of the people I have spoken to do not agree with it,” she said.

The town council will maintain its links with Simbach in Germany and, in the summer, will welcome visitors from the town.

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