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New committee to save Norfolk town’s Cittaslow initiative

PUBLISHED: 20:54 31 January 2013 | UPDATED: 20:54 31 January 2013

Archant © 2007

A new organising committee will be set up in a bid to save a Norfolk town from potentially having to pull out of an international tourist initiative.

Supporters of the Cittaslow movement in Diss have agreed to form a new body to organise events to promote the town and attract tourists after the town council threatened to withdraw funding for the Cittaslow brand after questioning what benefits the scheme brought to the market town.

Instead the council agreed on Wednesday to provide one more years funding, at £1,500, on the basis action was taken to make the Cittaslow branding, which started in Italy in 1999 as a badge of quality for market towns, more beneficial to Diss.

However, after next year’s final tranch of funding, the committee will have to make up the £1,500 shortfall from losing the council cash.

Diss mayor Graham Minshull said the supporters had been given a May deadline to get the group up and running or they would lose next year’s cash, adding the solution was the best for all parties as the council would not have to fund the intiative indefinitely and the scheme’s supporters had been given extra motivation to show the branding could help the town.

“I really hope it is successful and they have got a group that will be able to bring money into the town and apply for grants. I am really hopeful that they can do that now,” Mr Minshull said.

He said the Diss group should look at work done by Cittaslow committees in other Norfolk towns with the branding, such as Aylsham which organised a Big Breakfast event that showcased foods from local producers.

And Mr Minshull said the council would still be prepared to provide grants for individual events after the annual subsidy had been cut.

A previous Diss Cittaslow committee formed five years was dissolved after a couple of years, but Mr Minshull was more confident the second attempt would be a success due to the extra motivating factors.

The movement, started in 1999 as a way of preserving traditional town centres against the influx of glabalised brands, has been joined by 140 towns in 25 countries, including Aylsham, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Mold and Perth.

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