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
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.