A visiting official from the District Office of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf Borough in Berlin has sown the seed for a possible new Town Twinning between Inverness and this district of Berlin.
Sven Hammerström, Group Manager of Schools’ Facilities Management – while on a four week visit to The Highland Council – has raised the Berlin local authority’s desire to explore the possibility of a twinning relationship with Inverness.
Mr Hammerström has been shadowing staff in the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Service by attending committees; planning meetings; tree preservation site visits; and has visited the Aluminium Smelter in Fort William.
He said: “I have met some wonderful people on the Isle of Skye, in Fort William, Inverness and at the Cairngorm. Everyone has been so welcoming, sharing and informative. While in Inverness it was great to attend meetings in - and see the magnificent Inverness Town House.
“The highlights of my visit have been the privilege of attending two council meetings with developers and a planning review meeting. It was very interesting to see how the planning processes work in Scotland.
He added: “Highland Council is much further ahead with your use of technology than we are. Your use of online forms is commendable in, for example, benefits applications; and your use of the Internet for monitoring heating systems remotely in a sparse rural economy is inspiring.”
Leader of The Highland Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson said: “Sven’s enthusiasm and willingness to explore the differences and commonalities between local government service delivery in Berlin and Highland is inspirational. His response to how we provide local government in Highland has been refreshing and a delight to know that we can teach them new ideas especially in our use of technology to deliver services.”
She added: “I have asked Council management to explore the possibility of a Town Twinning arrangement between Inverness and Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf Borough.”
Following a visit to the new Inverness Campus with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Sven said: “I have been really impressed with the development potential of Inverness College and the University of the Highlands and Islands. I would like to come back in 10 years’ time and see how Inverness Campus has developed further. It is a beautiful location that is attracting inward investment.”
Above: Sven Hammerström (right) presents Highland Council Leader, Cllr Margaret Davidson with a gift from Berlin.