Bath’s wasteful twinning with Ethiopia

Bath TPA supporter Malcolm Ward continues his campaign against the City’s Charter Trustees and their wasteful ways with our money. His current target is Bath’s enthusiasm for twinning. The City currently has four twinned towns, whereas other major towns in the region, such as Swindon and Gloucester, get along with two or three. But now the Charter Trustees of the City of Bath want to twin with a town in Ethiopia.

‘Perhaps the Charter Trustees could tell the poor, benighted taxpayer what benefits the ordinary citizen of Bath will derive from any increase in twinned towns?’ asks Malcolm. ‘Perhaps the Charter Trustees are hoping that the future will see a huge influx of high spending tourists from the African countries, bringing a much needed boost to the Bath economy, while remembering, of course, that Ethiopia is one of Africa’s poorest countries? I think the Bath taxpayer needs to have answers, particularly as a lot of money will have to be spent on flights to take the Mayoral gravy train to these exotic, distant places in Africa.’

Malcolm’s criticism sparked a lively debate in the local newspaper, the Bath Chronicle.

An Ethiopian resident of Bath accused Malcolm Ward of having ‘fallen prey to an anachronistic view of Ethiopia which is synonymous with poverty, famine and conflict, whereas, in actual fact, we are a nation which has built a democratic and economically fast-growing country on the embers of a brutal military dictatorship and a famine of Biblical proportion... It is my hope that the anticipated twining between Hawassa and Bath will usher new opportunities for Bath’s business community to invest in Ethiopia’s market.’

A Batheaston resident, however, having recently visited Ethiopia, is more critical of the current rulers there, condemning them for manipulating elections to stay in power. ‘At the hands of this illegitimate regime Ethiopia today is almost the poorest nation in Africa,’ he says, ‘despite being the host country for the African Union and receiving substantial international development aid…  Spending on the military and state bureaucracy (which is monolithic and invasive) far exceeds that on health, welfare and education.’ Twinning he believes would open the eyes of Westerners and Ethiopians living abroad to the rampant corruption and persecution in the country. But I don’t think that is quite the kind of education the Mayor’s office has in mind, no doubt white-washing the despotic regime if it is ever linked with Bath.

Malcolm fears Bath’s enthusiasm for twinning with Ethiopia and other African countries is more about a passion for travel. In the past, the taxpayer funded Charter Trustees has boasted that mayors have visited many of the 18 towns called Bath in the US. ‘Clearly, Bath mayors have a global wanderlust when they are in office,’ says Malcolm. ‘As a taxpayer, I think this wanderlust should be curbed rather than encouraged.’

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