CALLS have been made by Staffordshire County Council to sever links with Russia in the wake of the plane shot down over the Ukraine.
The authority has had links with the city of Ivanovo since 1999 and shares information, best practice and ideas on public services, developing business, education and cultural links.
But council leader Philip Atkins says they have no plans to cut the links with the country at this stage, despite Russia’s alleged involvement in the crash.
Last week it was revealed the council spent £3,500 on a week-long trip to Ivanovo to share information on public health and business opportunities.
The visit included council leader Philip Atkins, director of public health in Staffordshire Aliko Ahmed, Jackie Wood from Abbot Beyne High School in Burton, and Mike Whitlow from Burton Albion Football Club, which has links with Tekstilschik football team.
This week Geoff Dobbing, 67, of Mill Street, Stafford, said: “I think the county council should focus on its own country rather than visiting Russia and especially in light of what has happened. The situation over there following the plane crash is disgusting, a disgrace to humanity. We should not be associating ourselves with that country.”
And a council worker, who asked to remain anonymous, added: “Considering the controversy around Russia at the moment, it is an entirely inappropriate use of public servants’ time.”
Councillor Atkins said they were proud of links with places such as Bremen in Germany and Ivanovo.
He said: "Like everyone, we have been truly appalled by the conflict and recent events in Ukraine involving Russian separatists. However our long-standing friendship with Ivanovo dates back to 1999 and was formed at a time when glasnost and perestroika opened up Russia to outside influence.
“Our partnership with Ivanovo is as much about promoting democracy, fostering debate and challenging opinion and to change. This would send out the wrong message and defeat the purpose of involvement with communities determined to change for the better.”