Pontypool councillor at centre of twinning row praises EU funded trip for young people

OVERSEAS TRIP: Jay Morgan, Jordan Taylor, Rhys Baldwin and Connor Perry went to France last month

OVERSEAS TRIP: Jay Morgan, Jordan Taylor, Rhys Baldwin and Connor Perry went to France last month

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A FORMER community council chairman embroiled in a twinning row hailed an EU-funded trip for young people indicating it should replace "outdated" arrangements.

Pontypool community councillor Giles Davies heaped praised on the initiative which saw four young volunteers from Torfaen go on an “amazing” 12-year cultural exchange trip to France paid for by Erasmus last month.

They joined peers from France, Germany and Spain as part of a drive to bring together European young people and break down national stereotypes.

Mr Davies spoke out after Pontypool Community Council decided to stop taking financial responsibility for the funding of twinning activities in Pontypool due to “unjustifiable” costs in the last year.

Twinning cost the community council close to £20,000 last year, though they received a £12,500 EU grant.

Mr Davies stood down as its chairman earlier this year after having attacked the twinning arrangements, saying the amounts spent were “ridiculous” and funding should come from grants rather than taxpayers.

He told the Free Press yesterday [August 12]: “In my opinion this is what should replace the outdated twinning which is practised by many community and town councils.

“Twinning was good in its day but things have moved on.

“I’d rather send disadvantaged youngsters on trips rather than councillors.

“I can afford it myself. A lot of youngsters can’t do that. When I saw that scheme I thought it was a really good idea.”

UK charity the Community Service Volunteers organised the trip to Aspet, south of France, through the European funded Erasmus+ programme.

One of the students, Ryhs Baldwin, 15, said: “This has been an amazing volunteering experience and something I will not forget.

“I have learnt a great deal from other young people which has helped me to better understand our European neighbours and understand the role of the European Union.”

Pontypool Twinning Association chairman Maurice Morgan welcomed the initiative but stressed it did not cater for every age group in Pontypool.

Mr Morgan, 65, said yesterday: “I am in favour of any organisation that is prepared to take youngsters abroad.

“Travelling is an eye opener. There is an educational aspect, you see other cultures and experience other places. It’s wonderful.

“But it doesn’t represent the whole community of Pontypool. It doesn’t cover every scenario."

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