A WORCESTER councillor has said she hopes links with the city’s newest twin will help combat negative assumptions about eastern Europeans.

Councillor Jo Hodges made the comments at a meeting of Worcester City Council, where they unanimously approved twinning with Ukmerge in Lithuania.

Coun Hodges said: “There has been some bad Press about people from Eastern Europe, but we hope that this twinning will lead to greater understanding of their culture and way of life.

“It is different from the other rather affluent towns we are already twinned with. But it is most welcoming and friendly, very generous and hospitable despite this.”

People from the town – pronounced uk-merg-ay – have already been visiting Worcester for several years.

Not only have they had stalls at the Christmas fair for the past two years, but they also had representatives at the 75th anniversary celebrations of VE Day in Worcester Cathedral in May.

Coun Liz Smith said: “It’s a friendship which has had a long gestation.

“It’s right that we should be marking it now and cementing the relationship with formal recognition.”

Coun Lucy Hodgson first considered the idea of twinning with the town in early 2009, while she was mayor, but it was felt that considering the financial position of the country it was not the right time to formally acknowledge the link. Coun Hodgson said: “I wanted to keep my promise.

“The friendship we have with the town is already strong, if informal.”

Members of the Worcester Twinning Association have visited the town – which is 48 miles north-west of Vilnius, Lithuania’s second city. Coun Hodges said the town is easily accessible from Worcester, as flights go from Birmingham to Vilnius, and that some local organisations, including the Elgar Chorale, were already planning to make the trip.

There are also links with the University of Worcester and the Lithuanian basketball team.

But, while the proposal was met with far more enthusiasm than Coun Alan Amos’s suggestion thatWorcester twin with Gaza in January last year, some councillors warned of the danger of having too many twin towns.

Coun Robert Rowden said: “I would not like to see us twinned with too many places.

“What does seem right to me is that twinning should be worthwhile – quality is more important than numbers.”

• For more information about Ukmerge visit Wikipedia here.