Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham congratulated the British Virgin Islands and Hertfordshire County Council on the signing of a new agreement that will build links between the two parties.
Premier of the British Virgin Islands Dr the Honourable Orlando Smith, and Mr David Lloyd, Deputy Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, signed the unique agreement is the culmination of a partnership begun in 2009 on sports cooperation and will foster engagement in the public service, the commercial sector and non-governmental organisations.
The initiative, which was pursued by the BVI and Hertfordshire County Council, builds on their Olympic relationship established through the Hertfordshire Ready for Winners Partnership (HRFPW) and supports the objectives of the UK Government’s strategy for the Overseas Territories that includes strengthening ties between the United Kingdom and the OTs.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Henry Bellingham said:
“As Overseas Territories Minister, I am very pleased to be here today to show the British Government’s support for the signing of this important Memorandum of Understanding between Hertfordshire County Council and the British Virgin Islands Government.
This is exactly the type of partnership that we are seeking to encourage between the Overseas Territories and the United Kingdom as part of our new strategy for the Territories, and I hope that other Territories will seek to follow BVI and Hertfordshire County Council’s lead.”
Premier of BVI, the Hon Dr Orlando Smith said he “envisioned a very long lasting relationship between the British Virgin Islands and Hertfordshire Council”. The Premier also extended thanks to Ms Shirley Parker and the residents of Aston for welcoming BVI athletes into their homes under the initial MOU on Sports Cooperation.
Jane Pitman, Chairman of Hertfordshire County Council, said: "This agreement gives
us the opportunity to share best practice, skills and business contacts between the public and private sector in Hertfordshire and our new partners in the British Virgin Islands.
"Particular areas of focus are education, adult care, youth offending and economic development. We are also investigating setting up graduate work experience opportunities for newly-qualified students from the British Virgin Islands so they can come to Hertfordshire to learn valuable skills.
"This is also a good opportunity to develop community links with the British Virgin Islands. We have already seen villagers from Aston open their homes to athletes from the British Virgin Islands who are training for the Olympics. This agreement will give Hertfordshire communities and our schools the opportunity to link with and learn more about Caribbean culture."