Crucial stage for twin town link

A NORTH Lanarkshire village is set to extend a hand of friendship to a community in South East France by striking up a town twinning partnership.

Strong links have already been established between the Stepps community and residents in the French village of Les Marches.

Now community representatives from both villages will meet next week to begin the process of formalising the link.

Chairman of Stepps Community Council, Rob Stuart, told the Herald: "There has been a friendship group established for over six years but the twinning process is more formal and has almost been achieved.

"Hopefully there will be business and economic links established, and from the existing community links I have seen, there is the possibility of improving the 'fabric' of the villages.

"Two delegates from Les Marches twinning committee, or 'jumelage', will visit us on May 31 for a few days and begin the process.''

The French wine-growing village is situated in the region of Savoie, close to the Swiss border at the foothills of the Alps, and also

translates into 'stepps'.

FUNDING

The initiative began on the French side after two holiday makers from the area were staying in a local caravan park here and noticed the link between the names.

Chairman of the Jumelage, Andre Benetti, and Gerard Veillet, a representative from the Municipality of Le Marches, will also have the opportunity to inspect a new beacon, which has been installed for the Jubilee celebrations.

Mr Stuart added: "Les Marches are a sub-committee of our community council and were involved in the funding of the beacon along with ourselves and North Lanarkshire Council.

"It will be lit on June 3 for the Jubilee celebrations as part of a ceremony which will see a chain linked across the country, and used again in the future for significant national events.''