TAMWORTH Regional Council (TRC) mayor Col Murray and general manager Paul Bennett will visit Nashville in June with the intention of cementing a sister city relationship with the world renowned country music metropolis billed as “Music City”.
Before that happens though, the mayor will travel to Tamworth’s other sister city – Gore in New Zealand – en route to Nashville, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Gold Guitar Awards.
A report endorsed by councillors at a council meeting this week said TRC had been contacted in August 2011 by Garry Jackson from Nashville’s Sister City board of directors about establishing a sister city relationship with Tamworth.
News of the mayor’s visits follows a “fact finding” mission involving three of council’s Destination Tamworth employees – business events officer Catherine Burton, business events manager Gavin Flanagan and business and commercial enterprises coordinator Kate Baker – to the Nashville Country Music Association Music Festival last year.
The report prepared by council’s manager of governance Karen Litchfield said Tamworth was listed as a candidate city by Nashville with the goal of establishing an official sister city partnership.
“This visit would be an ideal opportunity for Tamworth and Nashville to formalise our sister city relationship with the signing of a protocol between the two cities,” she said in the report.
The mayor and general manager’s itinerary while in Nashville will include a meeting with Nashville mayor Karl Dean, a meeting with Sister Cities Nashville including executer director Heather Cochran-Cunningham and a meeting with music event organisers to discuss operational issues with running a large festival.
“As the Gore 40th Gold Guitar Awards are being held from Thursday, May 28 to Sunday, June 2, it would be significant if mayor Col Murray attended the anniversary of their Gold Guitar Awards, a reciprocal visit to the delegation that attended the 40th Tamworth Country Music Festival,” the report said.
“It would also be an opportune time for our Sister City protocol with Gore to be renewed and signed by both mayor Col Murray and mayor Tracey Hicks of the Gore District Council.
“The timing for the visit to Gore would be en route for the mayor to then travel onto Nashville from June 6 to June 9.”
Councillors approved the payment of the mayor and general manager’s overseas travel expenses.
The report said a 2012/2013 budget of $8000 existed to cover the travel expenses.
Councillors James Treloar and Warren Woodley said they expected that rather than just agree to a budget, a report about the actual cost of the trip be returned to council.
“We need to know what it actually costs, not just what’s been allocated to it,” Cr Woodley said.
Cr Tim Coates and Cr Helen Tickle indicated at the meeting they also intended to head to Nashville –at their own expense.
Cr Woodley said he was still considering the trip. Should he choose to go, also at his own expense, he will have to notify council and it will have to be approved at a future meeting.