Cittàslow Aylsham – ‘where living is good’
Cittàslow is an international network of cities ‘where living is good’. And because Aylsham is considered just such a place, it qualified to join a select group of 252 towns in 30 countries.
Part of a cultural trend known as the Slow movement, Cittàslow — Italian for “slow town or city” — was set up in the 1999 by some laid-back Italians keen to see the “town” itself develop as the beating heart of a community keen on improving its quality of life and support local, traditional markets and artisans.
The main goal of Cittàslow was, and still is, to help combat the stress of modern life, encourage general conviviality and oppose cultural standardisation. It sprang from the Slow Food movement and Aylsham can also boast an active branch of this food-centred international grouping.
Today, the character of smaller towns 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.
Cittaslow towns were to be found not only in Italy but also in Germany, Norway and the UK. The network has since spread across Europe and now also includes towns in Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Iceland, Japan, South Africa and South Korea.
Aylsham became the second town in the UK to achieve Cittàslow status after Ludlow.
It had to meet more than 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 Cittàslow 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 Cittàslow status in the first place.
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 “where living is good”.
So what does it mean to be a Cittàslow town?
In the UK the following towns are all Cittàslow towns
Each town has its own unique approach. Apart from the goals, there is no set rule book – this emphasises the individuality of each community.
What does Aylsham provide?
- Sustainability not regeneration
- Led by democratically elected town council
- Community owned – the Cittàslow committee, although part of the non-political town council, has representation from numerous organisations in the town
- Endorses Broadland Community Plan, County Plan, relevant national Government strategies and policies
Cittàslow activities in Aylsham
- Aylsham Agricultural Show
- Sustainable activities
- Christmas Fair
- Street Parties
- Arts/music events
- Specialist markets
- Links to other authorities/agencies
What benefits does it provide?
- Raising the profile of the town and surrounding area
- Better rapport with principal authorities
- Cittàslow ‘umbrella’ brings projects and groups together
- Opportunities for being part of a national and international network