Sat, 23 Mar 2019
NEWBURY is strengthening ties with its European neighbours after being formally twinned with the Spanish town of Carcaixent.
Mayor Margo Payne visited the Valencian town on a five-day trip earlier this month, where she addressed residents of Carcaixent and those from Newbury’s other twin towns in an official ceremony.
The twinning – or hermanamiento as Newbury’s Valencian neighbours call it – sees the culmination of a friendship between Newbury and Carcaixent which started more than 20 years ago.
Carcaixent is the fifth town Newbury has been twinned with, following its other unions with the German town of Braunfels, Feltre in Italy, Eeklo in Belgium and Bagnols-Sur-Cèze in France.
The ceremony, on Saturday, March 9, followed a two-day conference in which Mrs Payne participated, where representatives from the six towns discussed the economic and cultural challenges they individually faced.
In her speech, which she read out in Spanish, Mrs Payne deliberately avoided saying the word ‘Brexit’.
She instead highlighted how the bond Newbury shared with Carcaixent would continue to strengthen, despite the “uncertain time of association with its European neighbours”.
Speaking after her trip, Mrs Payne said: “They were very sad about us leaving the EU, but I’m really pleased that we have completed a circle now – we are all twinned with one another.”
At the conference, Mrs Payne learnt how Carcaixent dealt with problems of immigration from Morocco and discussed the uncertainty around Brexit.
She was adamant that whatever happens after March 29, Newbury’s healthy relationship with its neighbours on the continent would continue to prosper.
Mrs Payne said: “Most of our European friends really thought we were going to say ‘Right, we do not want to be twinned anymore’.
“But it’s the complete opposite. We want to be stronger and forge cultural links.
“It’s hugely important during these times of uncertainty that we maintain strong ties.”
Newbury will host a return twinning ceremony on July 13 this year in the Corn Exchange, when representatives from Carcaixent will visit the town.
It is hoped that Carcaixent residents – including the town’s illustrious youth band – will bring their traditional dresses worn in its Falles festival – a traditional month-long spring celebration held in the Valencian province every year.
The festival includes fireworks, giant paper sculptures, bonfires, food and parties.