The ‘slow’ town status set to grind to a halt

Diss Express - 23rd August 2008''Part of the Cittaslow exhibition at the Cornhall, Diss.
Diss Express - 23rd August 2008''Part of the Cittaslow exhibition at the Cornhall, Diss.

Diss’ status as a ‘slow town’ is on the brink of being lost.

The town officially has Cittaslow status , an international movement which promotes community spirit and a healthy and sustainable way of life.

But support for the status in the town appears all but gone.

Last year Diss Town Council said it was no longer prepared to support Cittaslow status.

At the eleventh hour, community group the Diss Community Partnership (DCP) agreed to push the project forwards, with the town council agreeing to pay the 2013/14 subscription fee of £1,500.

But DCP has now withdrawn its support. Its secretary, Jacob Ecclestone, said: “After considering the issue for some time, and at some length, we decided earlier this month we did not feel we were justified in spending the money needed for another year’s affiliation.

“We of course support the ideas and principles of Cittaslow but we are doubtful that the ideas have really taken root and with some reluctance and regret we have decided we can not take the project any further forward.”

Many Diss Town Councillors had previously not been convinced that Cittaslow was widely understood by the public.

At Diss Town Council on Wednesday night, the status, which expires in May, was given a stay of execution when councillor Tony Palmer, a huge supporter of the status for the town, asked to be able to present a detailed report on the potential impacts of leaving Cittaslow.

But councillor Graham Minshull warned the council had no money available in the budget to pay the £1,500, no matter what the outcome of the review.

Mr Palmer said the chairman of Cittaslow UK would consider it devastating if Diss was lost from the movement, joining Ludlow in Shropshire as a town to have given up the status.

“Our own members have failed to make it a success and that’s the sad thing,” said Mr Palmer.

“It (£1,500) is excellent value for money with the marketing exposure it generates nationally and internationally.

“We should not rush into a decision that would not generate a good press further afield.”

Diss joined the Cittaslow movement in 2007, with the status attracting £200,000 of grant funding since.