Aylsham Town Council

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Feb 2, 2020

Aylsham – A Cittaslow Town

What is Cittaslow  

Cittaslow Aylsham is part of the UK network of Cittaslow towns which have been awarded accreditation to the international Cittaslow movement. Cittaslow (literally ‘Slow town/city’) seeks to foster economic, social and environmental sustainability.


Cittaslow is part of a cultural trend known as the slow movement, set up in the 1990’s by some laid-back Italians to help combat the stress of modern life. The original organisation was ‘Slow Food’ and Aylsham can also boast an active branch of this food-centred international grouping. Cittaslow followed in 1999 and within a few years, Cittaslow towns were to be found not only in Italy but also in Germany, Norway and the UK. Today there are 238 towns in 30 countries.


In order to gain Cittaslow status, Aylsham – along with all accredited towns – had to meet over 60 criteria, ranging from infrastructure policies to the celebration and promotion of local produce. The status was achieved in 2004 and a Town Council committee was established to ensure that the town continued to live up to the movement’s aims. But Cittaslow does not mean a staid, unchanging town but one that will move forward and modernise while still retaining the essential identity which qualified it for Cittaslow status in the first place.


The character of smaller towns these days is under threat from many directions: out-of-town shopping centres, online shopping, coffee bar and restaurant chains, the list goes on, often to produce ‘identikit’ towns with no soul. And yet other towns manage to maintain their individuality, to retain a sense of togetherness, a community. Aylsham is such a town. Whether it’s award-winning butchers, a pub where Nelson stayed, a National Trust market place, community organisations for just about every interest, or any of the other things that go to make it unique, Aylsham can claim to be a great place to live. And that’s what Cittaslow is all about. Not homogenised, but still diverse, offering a wealth of community organisations which have a common thread, businesses which are welcoming and a heritage to be proud of. Just as it was in 2004, Cittaslow Aylsham is there at the centre, quietly bringing together representatives from across the community and working to make sure the town remains what The Guardian described as “An Extraordinarily ordinary delight”.

Since November 2004 Aylsham has been a Cittaslow Town. So what does that mean?

Cittaslow” is Italian for “Slow Town or City”
The Cittàslow Movement was founded in 1999 in four Italian Towns
It grew from the Slow Food Movement an idea to combat the growing globalisation of food.
Cittàslow is a now a fast growing international network of nearly 150 towns in 25 countries, with more showing interest all the time. In Aylsham we have met with delegates from Taiwan, Japan and Bermuda all looking to see how Cittàslow would meet their needs.

In the UK the following towns are all Cittàslow towns
• Aylsham
• Mold
• Llangollen

What does it provide?
• Sustainability not regeneration
• Led by democratically elected town council
• Community owned – the Cittàslow Committee although part of the Town Council has representation from numerous organisations in the town
• Endorses Broadland Community Plan, County Plan, national Government strategies and policies

Apart from the goals, there is no set rule book – which emphasises that every community is unique

Cittàslow Activities in Aylsham
• Sustainable activities
• Carnival/Christmas
• Arts/Music events
• Specialist Markets
• Links to other authorities/agencies
• Burns Night

What benefits has it had?
• Raising the profile of the town and surrounding area
• Better rapport with Principal Authorities
• Cittaslow ‘umbrella’ brings projects and groups together
• Opportunities from being part of a national and international network

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