Central to Mold Town Council’s work, and unique in Wales, is the Cittaslow Initiative. Cittaslow is an international network of towns where the quality of life really matters.
Cittaslow provides a set of goals and aspirations for small towns based on principles which are underpinned by a series of 55 goals that aim to involve the local community in taking practical actions to enhance the environment, infrastructure, local products, hospitality, and profile of a town.
Cittaslow Mold was conceived in October 2006 and quickly adopted by the Town and County Council. It proved useful as a ready made structure and its focus on food aligned well with the reputation the town was trying to develop. Once the decision had been made to adopt Cittaslow as a concept, the Town Council immediately convened a steering group of 15 organisations plus individuals that represented the diversity of town life.
Mold is a mixed community in which can be found areas of affluence with high property values but it also has one Communities First ward. It retains a core Welsh identity and accommodates Welsh language play groups, a primary school and secondary school. There is a good sense of community with many groups and societies.
The goals and principles of Cittaslow now form the foundation of all Town Council initiatives, actions and projects.
One such initiative is ‘Sense of Place.’ The council has received funding from Cadwyn Clwyd, an initiative funded by European rural development money, to undertake a major study to identify through various schemes how the town can be developed and promoted. This will be a significant regeneration opportunity, capitalising on Mold’s historic and cultural assets through a sustainable development plan.
Another major research initiative, ‘Local to Mold,’ again supported by funding from Cadwyn Clwyd, will aim to develop and promote local food in the town and its hinterland. This process will include producing intelligent databases, market research into a local hub shop, research into customer potential and a business plan for the hub. Evaluations and recommendations from the study will include future funding sources.
A grant of £3500 from Tidy Towns paid for a town centre clean up (Mold Spring Clean), which involved 650 volunteers. A relatively small amount of money like this, used strategically, can be the catalyst for major change.
On the 2nd May 2010, the Council and the Cittaslow partnership hosted a free picnic on the town’s Bailey Hill. The event included performances from musicians and poets, medieval re-enactments, a Welsh learners tent, Welsh choir, folk dancing, storytelling and face-painting, drum workshops, Urdd Gobaith Cymraeg (under 12’s fun activities) and Scouts’ campfire songs. Many of the participants were young employed families - a sector which the initiative has found difficult to engage, as they tend to prioritise their time around work and family commitments. The majority of these participants at the picnic however, completed exit surveys confirming that they want to be better informed and more involved in community development and communal activity.
The town holds a twice-weekly market at which much fresh produce can be obtained. For speciality and fresh local food, the Celyn Farmers' Market is held on the first and third Saturday of every month in Mold.
The Mold Food & Drink Festival, which the Town Council helped to set up, is held during September each year. The two day festival is a showcase and celebration of the quality food and drink that is produced, sold and served in the town and its surrounding area. A Town Councillor sits on the management committee, although the Festival is now an independent body.
The Town Council has embraced the challenge to play a significant and leading role. The members of Mold Town Council have shown considerable boldness and flexibility in adopting and championing the Cittaslow approach. This willingness to change and to work with others has been an essential component of the success to date.
The Cittaslow initiative has successfully brought a diversity of groups together with a common aim and purpose to improve the well being and sustainability of the town. Ordinary citizens have been empowered and their talents and self belief have fed into the success of the overall development of the town.
The overall partnership is developing a set of six aspirations based on consultation of citizens. These relate to a vision of the town in 2025. The challenge will subsequently be to embed these goals into the Local Development Plan overseen by Flintshire County Council.
As a result of participating in this initiative, Mold Town Council has increased its own profile and through its input has established very good working relationships with Flintshire County Council, local businesses and a large number of local voluntary groups. It now works hard to maintain these relationships.
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