The Special Council Meeting took place at the Council Chamber of the Civic Centre on the 27th April 2010. Prior to the meeting we had received a letter of thanks from Mayor Janet Michael of Ramallah expressing her gratitude for all our efforts being put into the reviving of this existing relationship. Mayor Michael also hoped that our Council would measure the importance of such a tie and officially recognise it so that our exchange programmes and actions could begin.
The meeting was attended by the Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Paul Lynch as well as Councillors from all parties represented in the Borough. Councillors engaged in a heated debate which was unfortunately very politically driven due to the closeness of our local and general elections on the 6th of May.
In the end, no decision was made on the substantive motion to formally recognise the new Twinning Association. The Council’s decision on the evening (by a narrow vote of 21-18) was to defer re-consideration after the elections. However, there was an implicit recognition of the fact that Hounslow and Ramallah are officially twinned and have been so since 1988.
As some Councillors suggested, the deferral will give the Council’s ‘Community Cohesion Unit’ an opportunity to prepare a full report on our Association’s set-up and aims, thereby assisting Councillors in making a proper decision on the next occasion.
Involving the Hounslow Community Cohesion Unit will ensure that all members of the community are able to benefit from the twinning. Their involvement may also make possible suggestions of other organisations and groups within the community that we could potentially work with. This will be a great opportunity for us to include people across the board in a range of cultural and educational exchanges with Ramallah. We look forward to co-operating with these suggestions in the next few weeks to build up broad-based support across the Council.
It is important to recognise that we are an independent organisation that funds itself and we do not request financial aid from Hounslow Council. It is also important to express that the Council’s assistance in providing access to a raft of organisations, members and diverse range of people from our local community will only contribute in making the organisation reach its full potential in benefiting the whole community and creating the maximum number of exchanges between both communities. We hope that this is recognised by the next meeting so we can move forward.
Our Twinning Association is committed to the relationship with Ramallah. It would be tremendous to have the official support of our Council as we plan our future activities and exchanges.