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The Weymouth & Portland - Louviers Society

Towns twinned since 1958

PRESS RELEASE: 5 APRIL 2012                                                                                                                                                                         IMMEDIATE RELEASE


With less than seven weeks before the Mayor of Louviers arrives in Weymouth for the annual twinning visit on 25 May, the Weymouth-Louviers Society are urging Dorset County Council to hurry-up and add both twin towns to the controversial "Welcome to Weymouth & Portland" sign on The Ridgeway.

"It will be very sad if the French delegation drives into Weymouth along the new Relief Road next month and notices that for the first time in over 50 years, Louviers is not mentioned on the Borough welcome sign," says Cath Irving, Chairman of the Weymouth-Louviers Society. "Every town we pass has the names and symbols of their twin towns clearly displayed on all their boundary signs, so why should Weymouth be different? Dorset County Council need to pull their collective fingers out- a new sign can’t be that hard to organise."

Dorset County Council have been considering the matter since mid-January. "One option that has been considered is placing a new sign beneath the new ‘Welcome to Weymouth & Portland’ sign," Traffic Engineering Team Manager Andrew Brown wrote to Society Secretary Pam Nicklin in February. "However, due to design and safety concerns, this is not possible. The minimum height to the bottom of the sign must by 1.8 metres on this speed and class of road- to allow an average size family car to pass below the sign, if they lost control and left the carriageway. Any extra sign would be below this height, which could potentially increase the severity of any collision."

"I don’t understand that excuse at all," comments Cath Irving, "because if you look at the new welcome sign, the posts are only about two feet apart, so a car could never pass underneath it- and probably not even a motor cycle!"

"Consideration is being given to other options," continues Andrew Brown’s letter, "including a new separate sign closer to Weymouth. We are determined to come up with a suitable solution to celebrate Weymouth & Portland’s twinning with Louviers and Holzwickede. However, it has proved not as easy as first thought."

The missing names on the boundary sign was first raised by founder member Michel Hooper-Immins at the Society’s Annual General Meeting on 16 January.

The original sign on The Ridgeway was removed when the now-relocated "pineapple" monuments were inaugurated in 2004. Welcome signs showing both twin towns have remained in place at the western and eastern approaches to the town, at Charlestown and on White Horse Hill. The new sign on the Relief Road [A354] omits the twin towns.

Franck Martin, the longstanding Mayor of Louviers, is expected to lead the French delegation from the Normandy town, beginning on Friday 25 May. The Mayors’ official reception will be at the Portland Masonic Hall on the evening of Saturday 26 May, to be attended by Jeremy Pope OBE DL, the new HM High Sheriff of Dorset and three Mayors- of Portland, of Weymouth & Portland and of Louviers. The following day, the French delegates will be taken to Sherborne for lunch, then a tour of the New Castle and the Abbey.






Attending the meeting were 5 from Dorset and 13 from La Manche, although this was a disappointing attendance, particularly from Dorset, a very lively and useful discussion filled the allocated time of two and a half hours. A list of those attending is attached.

Following a welcome by Hilary Thompson, President of the Comite Départemental des Jumelages de La Manche (CDJM), John Pounder responded and read a message of greeting from John Wilson, President of the DTA, in which he said “we will be delighted to welcome you back to Dorset again as soon as possible so that we can continue the good work of forging strong links between the peoples of Dorset and La Manche”.

John explained that the meeting with the CDJM had been sought since one of the aims of the DTA is “to assist in developing the link created by the twinning of the County of Dorset with the Département of La Manche”. By involving pairs of twin towns it was hoped that ways could be found to deal with issues which were best dealt with collectively and which would benefit the individual twinning associations.

Jeremy Read gave an excellent power point presentation of the activities of Sturminster Newton/Montebourg, showing how the exchanges were centred on annual events such as the “Cheese Festival” in Sturminster and the “Chandeleur” in Montebourg.

Issues of common interest were discussed as follows:

Cross channel ferries:

The loss of the “Barfleur” and winter sailings from Poole had had a significant effect on twin towns travel arrangements, particularly for the towns to the west of Dorset. The lack of special ticket prices for the French, as compared with the special offers available on the English side was also highlighted. Tony Watts explained how representations had been made to “Brittany Ferries”, as a result of which the Fast Ferry sailings had been extended to

*This meeting had originally been planned to take place in Coutances, but had been re-arranged to meet in the Maison Cantonale in Cerisy-la-Salle, some 12km from Coutances. This was selected as a more convenient venue in view of the less than expected numbers attending and also to have electronic projection equipment readily available.

the end of October with the prospect of resuming in April next year. The two Twinning Associations must keep up representations to Brittany Ferries via their County and Départemental Councils and also the councils of Cherbourg and Poole. The French side should have more influence since the construction of the “Barfleur” had been subsidised by the “La Manche” council.

Claude Halbecq commented that the La Manche council was encouraging commerce and tourism with the Channel Islands with which travel was much easier than with Dorset, 60 mins from Granville for example. Some financial assistance was available for La manche towns and villages wishing to twin with Channel Island Parishes.

Problems encountered in School exchanges:

Mselle Isabelle Gavard (Wimborne-Valognes), recounted some of the difficulties encountered in arranging satisfactory school exchanges between schools in Dorset and La Manche. It was agreed that the DTA and the CDJM should seek to arrange a representative meeting of say four school representatives from each side to discuss these issues further.

Phillipe Villain from the Dorset Fire Service together with Capt. Fleurie, of Agon Coutainville described an initiative to link the training of young fire cadets in Dorset with fire cadets in Cherbourg and the possibility of extending this to include Bremerhaven, twinned with Cherbourg, which also had a fire cadet training scheme.

It was recognised that the DTA has half of its member associations twinned with places in La Manche, while the CDJM has only about 20% of its members twinned with Dorset.

It was agreed that the meeting had been very worthwhile, and the next step was likely to be a meeting of some members of the CDJM with some members of the DTA committee, to consider the next step, with the possibility of a joint meeting of the two associations in Dorset next year.

Points agreed

1.The two Associations should maintain pressure on Brittany Ferries, through their elected councils, to improve their service.

2.A special meeting to be arranged by the DTA and CDJM committees to discuss the problems encountered in arranging school exchanges.

3.Subject to the agreement of the two committees, a meeting of representatives from the two Committees to meet to consider the way forward.


Weymouth & Portland Mayor Coun. Graham Winter [left] congratulates Cath Irving on becoming Chairman of the Weymouth-Louviers Society in January. Retiring Chairman Ted Nicklin is on the right.

The boundary sign at Charlestown, which shows the names, flags and arms of Louviers and Holzwickede

the Dorset County Council letter dated 21 February 2012

click on it for a larger version

Sherbourne Douzelage

You are cordially invited to the



Wednesday 14th November 2012 at the Senior Lunch Club, Digby Road, Sherborne at 7 pm

Come and hear about our work in supporting young people’s visits to experience cultural, educational and social links in Europe

After the business of the AGM we will have short presentations of some of the activities that have happened in the past year

Join us for a glass of wine and refreshments

All residents of Sherborne and district are welcome to attend the AGM