Special meeting over Norfolk town’s tourist brand funding

A special meeting has been called by a Norfolk council to decide whether to continue supporting a tourist brand initiative after were raised over whether it provided any benefits.

Diss Town Council will be meeting on January 23 to discuss whether the council should carry on paying �1,500 annually for Diss to be a member of the international Cittaslow movement, which was set up to be a badge of quality for market towns and could help attract tourists and funding.

However, councillors had begun to question whether the scheme, set up in Italy in 1999, was helping to bring tourists into the town and said many residents did not know anything about the initiative or what it stood for.

Last week, town Mayor Graham Minshull told a meeting of the council's tourism, leisure and communities committee on Wednesday the decision was not whether Diss should remain a Cittaslow town or not, but whether the council should continue to fund it.

Following the meeting, he said he had not seen any evidence Cittaslow membership had helped draw in visitors from abroad and said although the town had initially received a �100,000 grant after joining the scheme he did not feel there had been much long term difference and questioned whether the council should continue to pay for membership during a time of economic difficulty when budgets were being cut.

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Cittaslow chiefs are due to travel from Italy to Diss within the next month to meet councillors to discuss their concerns about the Cittaslow movement, which means Slow Town and has its origins in the Slow Food movement as a way of preserving the traditional fabric of town centres against the influx of globalised brands.

The movement, started in 1999, has been joined by 140 towns in 25 countries, including Aylsham, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Mold and Perth.

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