Devon town's French connection not at risk

Bovey Tracey sign
Image caption The twinning is marked on signs welcoming the public into the Devon town

A Devon town which thought it had been secretly spurned by its French twin in favour of an Essex "rival" has been reassured its entente is intact.

Bovey Tracey was twinned with Le Molay-Littry in Normandy in 1979.

The French town is now looking to twin with Theydon Bois, Essex, and wants links with both English suitors.

Bovey Tracey Town Council was alarmed when it was told unofficially the relationship was over, but this was never confirmed by French officials.

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The Devon market town decided to re-establish its French connection in October.

Councillor Christopher Robillard said he reached out to Le Molay-Littry and spoke to officials who were positive about the relationship.

But he was later contacted by an English resident of the Normandy town who claimed it had abandoned its Devonshire twin for Theydon Bois instead.

Image caption Le Molay-Littry is about 26 miles (42km) from Caen
Image copyright Google
Image caption Le Molay-Littry Way in Bovey Tracey

On hearing the news at a council meeting, George Gribble, who helped establish the twinning, was "rather disappointed".

Recalling his visits to Normandy, Mr Gribble said: "It really was nice. We took football teams over there and, on one occasion, we had two coach loads.

"I'm anxious to maintain the association" he added.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Rue Bovey Tracey in Le Molay-Littry

Le Molay-Littry's Mayor, Guillaume Bertier, told the BBC the "rumour" the twinning was over is "false".

He said they wanted to keep the "historical" link, as well as the new link to Essex.

"Why not two [towns]?" he said, "It would be interesting, especially with Brexit."

He says he was contacted by an English family who have lived in Le Molay-Littry for some years asking about twinning with their home town of Theydon Bois.

John Phillips, chairman of the Theydon Bois Parish Council, said talks began with the French town last year.

"We looked at the French partnership, Le Molay-Littry looked like a place of similar size and similar rich history, it seemed logical to explore further."

Mr Phillips said he was unaware of Bovey Tracey's link and saw no reason why they could not share their continental consort.

He added the Devon councillors were also "more than welcome to visit the delights of Epping Forest".

Image copyright Google
Image caption Bovey Tracey describes itself as "the gateway to Dartmoor"

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