Page last updated at 13:19 GMT, Sunday, 26 April 2009 14:19 UK

Town aims to disown French 'twin'

Wallingford, Oxfordshire
Wallingford is a picturesque market town on the River Thames

The mayor of an Oxfordshire market town has tried to disown its French "twin" town after 30 years of union.

The Mayor of Wallingford said civic leaders in Luxeuil-les-Bains, eastern France, had stopped communicating with Wallingford about 10 years ago.

Alec Hayton said school exchanges that are the norm for twin towns had also not taken place for more than a decade.

But the Brussels-based council that co-ordinates twinning schemes told him it did not have a policy to sever ties.

I contacted the European council and said 'how do you de-twin?'
Alec Hayton, mayor

Mr Hayton said the Council for European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) had told him they had never had to "de-twin" two towns before.

Meanwhile Mr Hayton said Wallingford's relationship with its German twin town, Bad Wurzach, was going from strength to strength.

"We've had no obvious contact with Luxeuil-les-Bains for about 10 years," he said.

"I met the mayor at a meeting in Germany last July and he made lots of promises that haven't materialised - such as contact.

Alec Hayton, Mayor of Wallingford
The mayor says no-one from Luxeuil-les-Bains has tried to make contact

"We send the town regular Christmas cards and the Wallingford magazine every month but get nothing back.

"About nine or 10 months ago I contacted the European council and said 'how do you de-twin?' but they said they had never been asked that before.

"It's totally frustrating."

Wallingford, in south Oxfordshire, is a small picturesque market town on the River Thames, with a large town square and a population of about 10,000 people.

Luxeuil-les-Bains was established as a thermal town by the Romans and still has an 18th Century spa.

It has a population of about 8,000 people and is near the Swiss border.

The French mayor's office was not available for comment.



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