Matlock: Tea and cake snub for German visitors

A group of German visitors were snubbed when council bosses refused to serve them tea and cake on a recent tour of the Dales.

The visitors, from the Vogelsbergkreis, in Hessen, were on a trip to the area hosted by the Derbyshire Dales’ Anglo–German Friendship Group.

The Vogelsbergkreis has been twinned with the Dales since 1973 and traditionally the group is invited to Matlock Town Hall for tea and cake and a reception with the chairman of Derbyshire Dales District Council.

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Neil Greatorex, chairman of the Anglo–German Friendship Group, said: “The council chair of the Derbyshire Dales District Council, who are twinned with The Vogelsberkreis, refused to hold the reception, which has taken place for many years at the town hall.

“The reason being for so called budget cuts, much to the extreme dismay of the English group and the astonishment of the German group.

“So much for international harmony, all for a cup of tea and a bit of cake.”

The Mayor of Matlock, Councillor David Barker, who is a member of the twinning group, came to the rescue and hosted the reception at the Imperial Rooms, courtesy of Matlock Town Council.

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He said: “The district council declined this year because of costs, but to me that seems a rather feeble excuse because it cost the town council about £50. We weren’t giving them a banquet, it was just tea and cake.”

Neil explained that the twinning scheme exists to promote good relations between different towns in Europe.

“It’s a relationship, it’s been going for donkey’s years” he added.

“There’s that much trouble in the world today – everybody fighting everybody else – and we’re even fighting the Derbyshire Dales District Council now.”

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Neil explained that the Anglo–German Friendship Group, which is entirely self–funded, is always welcomed by the local council when it visits Germany.

A spokesman for Derbyshire Dales District Council said in the past, the authority has provided a full buffet reception for the guests.

He added: “The decision not to provide a full buffet reception for the twinning delegation on this occasion was made with regret on the basis that we have other priorities and, as everyone knows, local government finances are tighter than ever.

“We would also respectfully point out that it was the district council which several years ago provided the funding for the twinning group to become self–sufficient, the idea being that the group would be independent and no longer rely on the public purse.”