BEAMINSTER Town Council has agreed to go ahead with a twinning project to promote local businesses with a small town in Italy.
Residents in Sant’Agata de’ Goti in Campania approached Beaminster with the idea of a twinning project through the Europe for Citizens programme, after discovering similarities in products they produce.
The programme encourages European Union citizens to play a greater part in the development of the union and is designed to help bridge the gap between citizens and the union.
The scheme also supports projects bringing citizens from twinned towns together, with the hope of ensuring better outcomes and a stronger sense of European citizenship.
The financed projects – which carry a maximum grant of €25,000 – aim to raise awareness of common history and values of the EU and develop the understanding of and involvement in the EU policy making process.
Valerie Jepps, chairman of Beaminster Twinning Association, and member Julie Cooke, brought the idea to the town council at a recent meeting after receiving an email about the proposal.
She said: “It became clear that the term ‘town twinning’ was not, in this instance, describing the trad- itional link we have established with St James [France], rather it appeared to be aimed at business opportunities.”
She explained that they chose Beaminster as it had contacts with producers of jam, juices and fruit sauces and that Sant‘Agata de’ Goti is a small agricultural reality that is famous for the same productions.
They also believe that organising days of exposure and exchanges in both Italy and Dorset can be a source of knowledge and economic development for both.
The two towns plan to organise a range of activities from January to September next year around the subject of common interest – in this instance local produce – including visits with displays of products in both countries, but the deadline for the application is September 1st.
Valerie Jepps and Julie Cooke asked for the support of the town council as they felt the council would have more “weight”.
Mrs Cooke said: “It seems like this is more than we as a twinning association could do.
“It seems it is something we would be happy to be part of, but we don’t think we have enough authority to be able to do all those things as the twinning association and we would seek support from the council in order to give it the relevant clout it needs to be a success.”
Councillors agreed more detail was needed of what was expected of Beaminster and they needed time to approach local producers to find out if they would be interested in it.
But with the tight time scale for the application to be submitted, some councillors wanted the decision to support the project to be made.
Cllr Chris Turner said: “I think it would be pretty disappointing for some if we didn’t take up this option, if there is money involved.”
Cllr Janet Page agreed and said: “The problem is we haven’t got much time to do it in.
“It would be so sad to say ‘no’ to our community who brought it to us.”
Only one country in a Europe For Citizens partnership needs to be in the EU, so Brexit plans will not effect the project.