Brexit will not break South Tyneside’s long-standing friendship with German twin city Wuppertal
On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the partnership, they insist ties are too strong to be severed by Britain’s imminent exit from the EU.
The twinning was established in 1951 by an administrator from South Shields, who was working on behalf of Britain in post-war Germany.
It is one of dozens of accords established after 1945 between towns, cities and boroughs, mainly in Britain, France and Germany, to promote peace and prosperity.
The South Tyneside-Wuppertal link, a marriage of council and independent supporter groups, has spawned great cultural ties, including through music.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Norman Dick, insisted Brexit would not diminish the relationship.
He said: “Our twinning pre-dates our original entry into the EU and our links not only with Wuppertal but also Epinay and Noisy le Sec, in France, will endure.
“While Britain may be withdrawing from the European Union, the long-standing links between our twinned communities will continue.
“The Mayoress and I are very proud of our friendship with Wuppertal, which is why we awarded its citizens the freedom of our borough.
“We hope that our programme of youth, education, sporting and cultural visits, which benefits residents and visitors of both Wuppertal and South Tyneside, will strengthen as we celebrate our 70th anniversary next year, and beyond.”
Retired press officer Tom Fennelly, 74, chairman of The Green Route, a South Tyneside cycling organisation involved in the exchange programme, added: “Long may the borough’s relationship with Wuppertal continue.
“Many friendships have been made over the years, and Brexit will not get in the way of these. Never mind Brexit, long live Wuppertal.
“It is right that there should be no change in the very strong relationship South Tyneside and Wuppertal enjoy.
“Annual events would have been taking place this year, had it not been for the pandemic.
“We hope others can be organised next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the relationship.”
Wuppertal is a city of around 350,000 people in the North Rhine-Westphalia state.