Sunday, March 23, 2008


At a recent Council meeting there was a heated debate ranging over several issues all related to Sister Cities and Virginia Beach,

The debate began I questioned the proposed visit of a group of teachers form Kempsville Middle School Virginia Beach to Priory College. In a report given to Council there was a worry in that Priory College had been surprised to learn of the proposed visit since they had had no meaningful communication with the Kempsville School for some period of time. The Holywood School was concerned that they would be required to meet the accommodation costs of the visitors particularly now that school budgets were so tight. However, in answering my questions I was told that the school would not have to pay the costs but that Council would. Personally I thought this was a bit of a cheek.

Following on, I said that over many years Virginia Beach has been North Down’s Sister City, this link has done nothing but cost us money, we have been snubbed, Christmas greetings ignored and it was even stated during one debate this evening that we should cut the link. I personally feel it is more than time we cut this expensive link which has done very little for this Borough other than cost the rate payers money.”

This debate was followed closely on a proposed trip to the annual Sister Cities Conference in Kansas City Missouri from 16 – 19 July. I have no problem with the Mayor and one officer going anywhere – the Mayor represents this Borough, but to have 4 councillors and 1 officer traipsing over to Kansas City is an absolute waste of money. I was the only Councillor who voted against this – ‘trip’.

I have asked for the figures as to just how much this has cost the ratepayers of this Borough over the past 13 years, as I do not think the total figure has ever been considered. I have no problem supporting any group, choir or school visiting links with this Borough.

I keep being reassured that wonderful things will happen from these visits, however this promise has been on going for 13 years now and as far as I am concerned it is a jam to morrow policy.