Twenty-six years of friendship between Nottingham and Karlsruhe councils has been celebrated with staff from Germany making the trip to Nottingham.

Representatives from both cities, including 18 guests from Karlsruhe, met during the five-day visit to discuss possible joint economic and cultural projects.

In 1990, three members of staff from Nottingham and Karlsruhe City Councils started an exchange programme – 26 years later and 15 members from different parts of the council took on the role of hosts last week (28 Sept to 2 Oct).

During the trip the visitors were taken on tours of the city, KarlsruheWollaton Hall and a river boat cruise, plus a stop off at the Olde Trip to Jerusalem. They were also given a tour of the Council House from Chief Executive Ian Curryer and the Sheriff of Nottingham, Cllr Jackie Morris. Staff from the German city also got to shadow City Council staff from similar areas of work to their own. This was an opportunity to understand how the two councils do things differently and identify lessons to be learnt from each other.

To top off the trip, there was a team bike ride from Broadmarsh, down the new cycle superhighway on Castle Boulevard, before heading to the Attenborough Nature Reserve on Citycard Cycles. There was even a very British Street Party and a staff exchange themed pub quiz.

The exchange programme between staff from the two councils was started as a way to share experiences, and by 1992 the programme was rolled out so more colleagues could benefit from the experience.

The city has already seen the benefits and lasting effect of the twinning and the exchange programmes. For example Nottingham’s tram network stemmed from Karlsruhe’s world-renowned integrated tram network. To mark this relationship, when the new lines opened in 2015, the award-winning bridge above Nottingham Station was named the Karlsruhe Friendship Bridge.

karlsruhe councilWhen NET trams were being planned, Karlsruhe already had experience of building and operating a successful system, so provided valuable guidance including creating a truly integrated transport system linking tram, train and road travel along with parking, park and ride and cycling facilities.

Candida Brudenell, Assistant Chief Executive at Nottingham City Council, said: “Since 1992 more than 350 staff members of the two councils have made the trip to the other side of the Channel. Many long-term friend­ships have been formed during the programme.

“Our connection and friendship with Karlsruhe is strong, and it’s very important for us and our staff to be a part of this exchange programme. It’s also important to build on that genuine friendship economically, open some doors to businesses and look at economic strategies which we may be able to learn from.”

Staff from either side fund their own travel and expenses on these trips, and colleagues from both side act as host families to accommodate the visitors.

The two cities were twinned in 1969 after being matched by the British Council.

Karlsruhe is in the Rhine Valley near the Black Forest and French border. It is modern with technological industries and law and academic establishments.