TAUNTON'S twinning links with German and French towns are more important than ever, according to a former district mayor.

Dave Durdan, of the Friends of Konigslutter, responded to criticism of plans to change the way the Taunton twinning groups are funded.

Until this year, the former Taunton Deane Borough Council made an annual grant of £1,000 to the civic link with the French town of Lisieux and nothing towards the German link.

The authority also put up £1,500 a year to cover the costs of civic receptions for visits to the district - the French and German delegations come over on alternate years.

But the new Somerset West and Taunton Council has ended the funding as it is seen as unfair that twinning groups in other areas of Taunton Deane and West Somerset are not awarded any council cash.

A report to Taunton Charter Trustees' meeting on Wednesday (October 2) suggests £1,000 should be given annually to each of the two twinning associations in the town, with a further £1,500 for whichever group is hosting a visit in a particular year.

The money would come from an existing levy on council tax bills imposed on people in the unparished areas of Taunton that do not have their own local councils.

A pensioner in an unparished area in north Taunton, who asked not to be named, has criticised the proposal.

He said: "It's a struggle to make my pension cover my outgoings.

"Why should I have to cough up so other people can go on trips to France or Germany? Many of them don't pay this levy. Some don't even live in Taunton.

"And it's extravagant to pay so much to wine and dine people who aren't from Taunton.

"I don't object to twin towns, but if we have to pay, why not spread the cost between more people?"

Mr Durdan said the Friends of Konigslutter had always raised their own money and pay their own way travel costs, while he has hosted fundraising events and held a farewell event for German visitors in his own home.

He added: "It's really important to maintain these links with Brexit.

"The Konigslutter Chamber of Commerce and ours in Taunton have established strong links - they recently gave us a bench for goodwill.

"Both sides are looking at more business links.

"People who don't know anything about twinning should come and look at what we do. We want more members and would welcome anybody."