THE new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council has been urged to consider twinning with a big region in Europe.

Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts, the twinning representative on Bournemouth council, wants the new authority to forge more economic and cultural ties with other countries.

He raised the issue at a meeting of the shadow authority which will become a new council in April.

Cllr Stanley-Watts said: “I’m asking the merged authority what exactly is happening with the twinning links concerning a region, rather than a town or city, and whether Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry can get involved in establishing better trade links.”

Poole is currently twinned with the French port of Cherbourg, while Bournemouth is twinned with Lucerne in Switzerland and Netanya in Israel. Christchurch has four twin towns: Aalen in Germany, Tatabanya in Hungary, Christchurch in New Zealand and Saint-Lo in France.

Cllr Stanley-Watts said these arrangements should continue.

“I think they should be preserved but the general public don’t know what’s going on and it needs to be sorted out whether the area authority will be twinning with regions, towns or cities or whatever – because every town within the new area authorities has got its own unique twinning arrangements,” he said.

He added: “In these days of Brexit and everything else, it’s important to have trade links at a local level with different towns and cities and also they mustn’t forget about friendship links and respecting each other’s cultures in these days of instability.”

Bournemouth In Bloom committee has set up a twinning arrangement with Bermuda, which saw four scholarship recipients from Bermuda visit the resort last year to work alongside the town’s park team.

Twinning arrangements promote cultural and commercial ties between areas. Links are usually forged by volunteers, who pick up the bill.

“The public probably think it’s on the taxpayer, but as far as I’m aware it’s never been on the taxpayer,” Cllr Stanley-Watts added.

“In Romania they wanted a Bournemouth garden in one of their parks and they paid for it lock stock and barrel. It’s kind of an export of Bournemouth.”

Responding to a question from Cllr Stanley-Watts, the shadow authority’s leader Cllr Janet Walton said: “Meetings are under way with twin cities across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

“We all recognise the importance of these partnerships and arrangements will be made to ensure continuity.”