Case study

Cittaslow UK

An international movement with a local focus, aiming to improve towns’ quality of life and support local, traditional markets and artisans.

‘Festina lente’ means ‘hasten slowly’ in Italian. It’s at the heart of what Cittaslow is about. With strong links to the international Slow Food movement, Cittaslow UK puts great importance on the protection and improvement of the environment, the provision of people-friendly infrastructure and facilities, and the promotion of traditional local arts and culture – while harnessing the best aspects of modern technology to improve quality of life.

Originating in Italy, it is an approach that has been adopted by a growing international network of 150 towns – including six in the UK.

“Individual member towns work with local businesses, groups and municipal administrators to enhance life locally through community projects that include environmental issues such as air and water quality, healthy eating – including supporting local farmers’ markets and produce – as well as preserving local heritage and history,” says Douglas Ritchie, a spokesperson for Cittaslow UK.

Towns that want to join have to pass a self-assessed membership criteria test; their application is then evaluated by Cittaslow UK and ratified by Cittaslow International. Membership applications must have the support of the appropriate local council, says Ritchie.

Income is derived primarily by the annual membership fee that each town pays, which varies depending on the size of the town. This fee is shared between Cittaslow UK and Cittaslow International. “Individual towns also secure funding on a local level to carry out local projects, which are often conducted in conjunction with other groups,” says Ritchie. “For example, Mold in Wales conducts a spring clean campaign, which is supported by Keep Wales Tidy.”

Cittaslow originally registered a company limited by guarantee.

“When we set up, there were three member towns and, in order to grow, the CIC structure allowed us the flexibility that the company format didn’t,” says Ritchie.

“Changing to a CIC allowed us to generate external funding at the national level to facilitate that growth. It also reflected the organisation’s not-for-profit ethos of benefitting the community and improving its quality of life.”

True to character, Cittaslow is growing in a steady, organic manner. “We’ve appointed our first project officer, who will be key to developing the future of Cittaslow UK,” says Ritchie. “Several UK towns are going through the membership accreditation process and our member towns are building local and international ties with organisations and Cittaslow towns in other countries. We’re also looking to raise awareness of and promote Cittaslow UK’s work and values in local and national policy arenas.”

All in good time, of course.

Name Cittaslow UK
Location Six UK towns currently in membership
Company structure CIC limited by guarantee
Founded 2009
Community interest statement A growing international network of over 140 towns in 20 countries that have adopted a set of common goals and principles to enhance their quality of life for residents and visitors.

Find out more about Cittaslow UK

Published 12 November 2013