Plan to twin Colchester with Ur

A PEACE protest group has called for Colchester to twin with an ancient town in Iraq or Syria to promote understanding between Essex residents and their Middle Eastern counterparts.

A PEACE protest group has called for Colchester to twin with an ancient town in Iraq or Syria to promote understanding between Essex residents and their Middle Eastern counterparts.

And the proposal has been cautiously welcomed by people in the town, as well as Colchester's MP Bob Russell and the former chairman of the borough's twinning society, Ian McMeeken.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the Colchester Peace Campaign said: "The idea of twinning towns came about after the Second World War as a way of trying to make people to people links rather than government to government links. This increases understanding between cultures."

The spokesman added that one of those being considered by the peace campaign was the world's oldest recorded town, Ur, in Iraq – which would resonate with Colchester's status as Britain's oldest recorded town.


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Colchester twinned with Wetzlar, Germany in 1969, Avignon, France, in 1972 and most recently Imola, Italy in 1997.

Yesterday, Mr Russell said that while he thought the idea of twinning with a town in Iraq was good in principle, it would need to be thought through very carefully before it was implemented.

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"I think everybody is in favour of peaceful measures rather than war-like measures.

"I know, for example, that troops in Afghanistan were very supportive in getting aid sent out, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if the same sort of thing happens in Iraq.

"I am sure that if those who were of a view that there should be some sort of twinning were to hold a public meeting to see what support there was I would be interested to see how it develops."

However, Mr Russell added it was important not to raise hopes among the Iraqi people until a definite proposal could be made.

"It has either got to be done properly or not at all. What the aim of the twinning is and what can be delivered must be established.

"If the people there felt let down it would be totally counter-productive."

Mr McMeekan, spokesman for Colchester Twinning Society, said: "I know that throughout Europe there has been some consideration of twinning with countries from further afield.

"It may be sensible now to move forward to twinning with developing countries.

"However, we do have problems in Colchester in that the council is no longer going to be financially helping us."

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