THE French have begged Wallingford not to sever their twinning links in the row over a lack of contact.

Wallingford mayor Alec Hayton had contacted the Brussels-based Council for European Municipalities and Regions, which co-ordinates twinning in Europe, in an attempt to officially end the link with Luxeuil-les-Bains in eastern France.

But the French town’s deputy mayor, Fabienne Deloul, has appealed for Wallingford to hold fire and promised this would be the year to revive the 30-year twinning relationship.

Madame Deloul said: “We are ready to welcome the mayor of Wallingford to Luxeuil whenever he would like and has time.

“We have a mayor who is very, very open and a twinning committee that is in action and has been working with Germany in 2008.

“For us, 2009 is a year for getting back in touch with Wallingford.”

She added: “As far as the twinning committees go, it’s possible there hasn’t been any direct contact between the two towns.

“We came into the town hall in March 2008 and since then we have re-established our committees in a different way to deal with our relationships with Italy, Germany and England.

“In fact, the mayor of Luxeuil-les-Bains met the mayor of Wallingford in Bad Wurzach in Germany on July 11, 2008.

“We have had frequent contact via post and email with Wallingford and the mayor of Wallingford has been invited to come to Luxeuil in October. For us, the contact still exists.

“Next week, two people from Wallingford are coming to Luxeuil and we are going to meet them.”

Madame Deloul said she wanted to meet town councillors or twinning committee members to establish a way forward, but warned the two towns should not force things.

The deputy mayor also said enquiries about an exchange made by her town’s school had never received an answer.

Mr Hayton said: “It would be wonderful. It’s a great idea and I’m looking forward to having a telephone call from her to explain what is going to happen.

“I’ve never been to Luxeuil-les-Bains, but I shall be going now.

“A lot of primary, secondary and adult learners learn French and it would be lovely for them to have somewhere to go for a week or so.”

Mr Hayton added: “I think the French school wanted to come in the middle of exams for Wallingford School and it couldn’t work.”

Former Wallingford mayor Betty Atkins, who was the last town official to visit the French town in 1998, said: “It’s a good outcome. I think Wallingford is the most amazing place to live and I’ve lived all over the world. I think we should invite the French here with open arms to see Wallingford.”