Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence - Sixth Report


Memorandum submitted by Kirklees Metropolitan Council, West Yorkshire


  Kirklees Metropolitan Council is one of only two UK local authorities maintaining a twinning link with Kazakhstan. The Council's partnership with Kostanai Town Administration, in the north west of Kazakhstan started in July 1989. Since then the twinning link has developed and prospered despite the difficult circumstances surrounding the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Kazakhstan's transition from part of the Soviet command economy to an independent State with a free market economy.

  Information about Kostanai and the twinning link with Kirklees is attached.


  Over 300 people have taken part in exchange visits for school children and young people, teachers, college and university lecturers, journalists, musicians, health practitioners, business representatives, local authority officials and private individuals. In 1994, local people in Kirklees raised over £6,000 for an incubator to be sent to the maternity hospital in Kostanai. The twinning link has raised local public awareness and understanding about the country of Kazakhstan and the town of Kostanai.

  The most successful twinning activities with Kostanai are the gap year student exchanges, the technical co-operation projects and the activities arising from requests from Kostanai to facilitate various activities.

  Greenhead Sixth Form College in Huddersfield started links with Kostanai in 1990-91 with a short school students' exchange. Since then the College has provided places for up to two students from Kostanai each year. The arrangement became an exchange in 1995. Each academic year two school leavers from Kostanai spend a year living with families in Kirklees and studying at Greenhead College. In return students from Kirklees spend the academic year living with families in Kostanai and assisting with the teaching of English in schools. The host local authority pays for the living expenses of the visiting students. Greenhead College provides free tuition. The students from both sides benefit greatly in terms of language learning and personal development. They usually go on to University to study English and Russian respectively.

  In 1996 Kirklees Council and Kostanai Town Administration completed a Know How Fund Technical Links Scheme project to advise Kostanai, on establishing a printing service within their Education Department to produce educational materials.

  It is increasingly popular in the former Soviet Union for parents to pay to send their children on short English language courses in Britain. At the request of parents in Kostanai, Huddersfield Technical College has agreed to arrange special English Courses for groups of 12 or more children from Kostanai. Four groups of children from Kostanai have come for month long commercial courses at Huddersfield Technical College in March 1996, June/July 1996, January 1997 and January 1998.

  American, Italian, German and Turkish companies firms invest in Kostanai but as yet no British companies. Business representatives of companies in Kostanai are keen to do business with UK companies. They have visited Kirklees on several occasions and sponsored the visits of civic officials from Kostanai. They have been well received by local businesses. The visits have resulted in a sharing of experience but no concrete business agreements or transactions.


  The gap year student exchanges will continue.

  In 1999 Kirklees and Kostanai will carry out a joint Energy Efficiency Project as part of the Know How Fund Local Authorities Technical Links scheme. A joint energy feasibility study will be undertaken to develop an energy management strategy for Kostanai and to identify the best options for improving the heating systems to public buildings in Kostanai. Kirklees Council will share expertise in energy management with Kostanai to develop their capacity in energy management, reduce costs and improve efficiency of heating in public buildings. The results of the feasibility study will be used to try to secure funding and/or loans to finance the improvements to the heating systems in Kostanai.

  In August 1999 there will be a twinning visit to Kostanai to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Kirklees Kostanai link. People from Kirklees will travel to Kostanai at their own expense and stay with local people there for two weeks. The Town Administration will arrange some celebratory events, as well as providing opportunities for people from Kirklees to meet their professional counterparts in Kostanai.



  The extent of Kirklees Council's co-operation with Kostanai is limited by financial constraints on the Authority's International Liaison Budget.

  Government financial support has enabled beneficial projects to happen which would not otherwise have been possible.

  The Know How Fund Local Authorities Technical Links scheme, currently administered by the Department for International Development, has been particularly useful. In 1996 Kirklees Council received funding of £24,879 from the Know How Fund Technical Links scheme for a project to advise Kostanai, on establishing a printing service within their Education Department to produce educational materials. Funding of £29,254 for the Kirklees Kostanai Energy Efficiency Project has been approved. The project will run from May 1999 until May 2000.

  Kirklees Council has received a small amount of funding from Central Bureau for Educational Exchanges for a teacher exchange and from the Youth Exchange Centre for a youth exchange. However there seems to be no Government funding for gap year student exchanges. These exchanges are very beneficial to the participants. They increase understanding and also cement a wide range of contacts between people in the two areas. The students from Kostanai are high flyers who are likely to hold influencial positions in Kazakhstan in the future. The student from Kirklees who visited Kostanai in 1998-99 is now studying Russian and French at Cambridge University and intends to return to Kazakhstan in the future. The cost of hosting the two students from Kostanai each year takes most of Kirklees Council's budget for twinning with Kostanai. This level of support may not be sustainable. Participants have to pay for their own travel or receive grants from charities to cover these costs. Government support for gap year exchanges of UK school leavers and their counterparts in Transcausus and Central Asia would help to sustain these exchanges and be an investment to ensure improved relations between the UK and these areas in the future.


  The British Embassy in Almaty has promptly processed visa applications for visitors from Kostanai to Kirklees. This is a great improvement on the service provided when visas for visitors from Kazakhstan had to be processed by the British Embassy in Moscow. The Embassy in Almaty has showed an interest in the Kirklees Kostanai twinning activities.


  Kirklees Council welcomes the Foreign Affairs Committee Transcausus and Central Asia Inquiry. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office can help to promote British interests and relations with countries in this area by giving financial support to local authority co-operation projects and ensuring Embassy support for twinning activities.

March 1999

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