REFERENDUM: Hastings twinning organisation’s fears over Brexit

Young people from Schwerte who visited Hastings in September 2012 as part of the annual visit by representatives from the German town
Young people from Schwerte who visited Hastings in September 2012 as part of the annual visit by representatives from the German town

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU) throws up a huge amount of uncertainty and could pave the way for other members to leave, it is feared.

Ken Sharples, chairman of Hastings Association of Twin Towns (HATT), said he was ‘very unhappy’ at the vote in favour of Brexit, announced early this morning (Friday, June 24) and fears it could hinder Hastings’ twinning relationships with its four European town towns.

Hastings is twinned with Dordrecht in the Netherlands, Schwerte in Germany, Oodenaarde in Belgium and Bethune in France.

It has been twinned with Bethune since 1972, with Schwerte and Dordrecht since 1982 and Oodenaarde since 1991.

Mr Sharples said: “There are so many uncertainties now, it really frightens me.

“Will we need to get visas to visit Germany, for example or will German visitors need them when they come over here? There is so much we don’t know.

“We will have to wait and see how it (Brexit) will affect everything.

“Obviously twinning will continue, as it’s strong enough already. But extra costs for any organisation like us will not be good, as it’s all voluntary.

“I thought we would have voted to remain in the EU by a small majority. A lot of people have voted on the immigration aspect and not looked at the massive change leaving the EU would bring.

“I saw a TV report last night from Brussels which said Britain leaving the EU could potentially open the floodgates for other member countries to do the same.”

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