The Importance of Small Towns Jelentosege Kisvarosok L ...

The Importance of Small Towns Jelentosege Kisvarosok L ...

EUROPEAN RURAL UNIVERSITY RURAL TERRITORIES, INNOVATION SPACES AND FUTURE FOR EUROPE THE ROLE THAT SMALL TOWNS CAN PLAY A PAN-EUROPEAN VIEW Presentation The European Council for the Village and Small Town (ECOVAST) Dordogne, FRANCE November 2013 Valerie J Carter President ECOVAST INTRODUCTION This presentation will cover ECOVAST and its work in rural areas The European Policy context

The challenges small towns have faced BUT real opportunities they have for the future Conclusions on why small towns across Europe are important particularly for the rural economy, and cultural and heritage tourism in rural areas ECOVAST NGO

ECOVAST is an International Non Government Organisation set up in 1984 10 national sections Its remit is to foster the economic, social and cultural vitality and identity of rural communities (villages and small towns) throughout Europe Its key areas of work are small towns; landscape identification; rural buildings/heritage and rural tourism We have been working for nearly 30 years to promote small towns and are using this experience to try and influence policy makers in both the Council of Europe and the European Commission we have prepared a formal Position Paper on The Importance of Small Towns (October 2013) to submit ECOVAST has developed these ideas through discussions on small towns at 27 events in 14 countries

EUROPEAN POLICY CONTEXT No specific policies exist for small towns Developing concept of Urban / Rural Networks New 7 year period of EU funding research by the International Organisation for Economic

Cooperation and Development (OECD) supported by DG Regio and RURBAN network future multi-funding approach rather than silos Council of Europe Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent include Improve relationship between town & countryside Enhance cultural heritage as part of development Encourage high quality sustainable tourism RURAL-URBAN PARTNERSHIPS The settlement patterns across Europe are varied

Not just about urban areas and rural areas Rural areas are not all the same either metropolitan areas: large towns: medium sized towns: and small towns rural areas around metropolises: rural areas outside metropolitan areas: and remote rural areas mountains and islands Lots of different linkages between them

BUT linkages are about function & hinterlands not administrative boundaries RURAL-URBAN PARTNERSHIPS But it is not a simple pattern Not every region has a metropolis The role of a metropolis is not always felt by people living in middle sized or smaller towns All towns even small ones have hinterlands too

even though they acknowledge its importance small towns particularly have a hinterland of villages, hamlets and countryside they attract people into them on a daily basis for employment, shopping, education, and leisure and are often the hub of local transport But in turn they are in the hinterland of large towns RURAL-URBAN PARTNERSHIPS

Patterns of links are influenced by major rail and motorway links which enable places far away to commute for instance in SE England there are no fast Intercity rail routes and places within the region can take 1.5 or more hours into London even though they are only 80-90 miles away, yet places with Intercity (nearly 200 miles away) can get to London in just over 1 hour Many regions have no single major city and are multi

centred Some regions have nothing except small towns So the situation is diverse not simple Future rural-urban partnerships will have several different models WHAT IS A SMALL TOWN There is no formal definition of a town A town is about function as well as size There is no formal agreement of what is a small

town it varies from state to state BUT there are 4,580 small towns with populations between 10,000 - 30,000 people across Europe 64% of all towns in Europe 78 million people live in them AND very many very small towns of less than 10,000 population WHY FOCUS ON SMALL TOWNS

Small towns are the backbone of the rural areas that surround them they are a hub of activity for these villages providing jobs, shops, many services often the hub of public transport They and their hinterlands work together

Small towns are also in the hinterland of large towns and in turn major metropolises They meet the new policy objective & form an ideal link between urban and rural areas the jam in the sandwich CHALLENGES FOR SMALL TOWNS Small towns have experienced some major challenges centralisation of services out migration of young people pressures of new development impact on landscapes

A major economic recession loss of jobs; loss of retail; loss of services; and declining public purses that has had an impact on tourism; and will have an impact on long term sustainability of projects OPPORTUNITIES & EXAMPLES BUT It is not all doom and gloom There are many opportunities for small towns to use their considerable assets and resources to improve their economic situation Many places in rural Europe will be able to use their cultural assets (heritage, traditions and customs) for tourism particularly small towns

many are already doing this They demonstrate a diverse architecture & history These ideas could be replicated by many others The following slides illustrate the resources that small towns have or are trying to develop and some best practice examples from across Europe

STAKEHOLDERS These opportunities have been developed by local people from local communities they feel passionate about their town and want to be involved in its future Local people have worked together in partnership Should include young people

some have managed to access European funding some funding from their own country can help involve them in keeping their customs alive It is a bottom up process BUT it needs the support of local, regional and national governments and agencies and NGOs too USING NEW TECHNOLOGIES Small towns are a good place for business They are a good place for entrepreneurs and

innovative businesses and ways of working The Internet allows work from home or based in small towns and villages Telecottage movement Availability of broadband in rural areas

Speed of broadband downloading pictures vacant buildings can be converted into new workshops this is particularly important to tourism businesses Internet cafes Hot spots Coffee shops DIRECT CONTRIBUTION TO ECONOMIES

Small towns are a good place for entrepreneurs to develop new business ventures for all types of business New start-ups can share premises They can also share administrative services Local retail loyalty schemes

Haslemere, Surrey, England winner of national prize MARKET FOR LOCAL PRODUCTS Food and drink Small towns are ideal places to sell local produce from the surrounding rural area

set up Farmers Markets Good places to develop food processing businesses Good quality food and drink is essential for attracting visitors for tourism There are specialist food towns such as Edam Towns where good restaurants are their main selling points such as Ludlow

Coastal small towns are often based on fishing and stage fish festivals eg; for example, Nerja, Andalusicia, Spain and Newlyn in Cornwall, England Wine Towns and wine festivals Europe has hundreds of towns world famous for wine for example Chablis in France or Montepulciano in Italy REVITALIZING SMALL TOWN ROLE

Wittstock, Germany wanted to make sure that it was recognised as a town not a village Small towns provide similar services as large towns but on a smaller scale Wittstock calls itself a mini-metropole SHARING SERVICES Tenterden, England A vacant shop now houses the town library, post office and drop-in office for the

local authority The town was also able to sell the former library premises RENEWABLE ENERGY Gussing in Austria Wanted to move away from fossil fuels to use fuel crops and local forests Popular project but it needs

further funding which is difficult USING CULTURE & HERITAGE The following set of slides are about cultural heritage We have talked about the potential from local and good food We have already talked about diversity of local styles reflecting their history Many have maintained these assets

Small towns are highly distinctive and are attractive to visitors Many still maintain their local customs They are involved in lots of different ways to attract visitors into them Visitors spend money and boost local economies (a) Distinctiveness

Survey of heritage assets which can attract investment World Heritage List: the whole town such as Banska Stiavnica, Slovakia; Roros in Norway; or Willemstad in the Netherlands or single buildings - the Protestant Peace Church in Jawor, Poland Iconic Architecture Religion Monastery towns such or towns with cathedrals Rila in Bulgaria Melk in Austria Wells in England

Iconic Architecture Fortifications Castle town of Vianden, Luxembourg Walled town of St Ursanne, Switzerland Bridge Cahors, France (b) Widening the Choice Away from the honey pots - Island of Nin, Croatia (c) Festivals, Pageants, Carnivals Can be aimed at local, regional, national or even international audiences

Staging events can be on a regular annual basis or just for very special events Spring, summer or winter festivals Russian winter festivals Binche Spring Festival, Belgium Famous Battles Grunwald, Germany Battle, England Poetry, Book Festivals Poetry Struga, Macedonia Hay Book festival, Wales Music festivals Granna Blue Grass, Sweden

Trumpet Festival Guca, Serbia Organ Festival Kremnica, Slovakia Folklore festivals Straznice, Czech Republic; & Talsi, Latvia Obby Oss, Padstow & Furry Day, Helston, both festivals in England Film festivals Midnight Sun Film Festival, Sodankyla, Finland (d) Tourist Trails The Romantic Road Germany

Cultural Tourism trail in Romania Byzantine heritage north of the Danube (e) Celebrating Local Industries Many former mining towns are trying to exploit their past as centres for gold, silver, copper, iron ore, slate

or mercury mining: Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales Idar Oberstein in Germany was a place for mining semiprecious stones and still attracts gem cutters from all over the world to its two gem-cutting schools (f) Celebrating Famous Local People Famous authors, composers, even politicians are celebrated in the town of their birth or the place where they

lived for a long time special events can be held on their birth date (or 100 year anniversary) Famous religious people such as St Francis and St Clare bring in millions of pilgrims into their home town of Assisi in Italy (g) Niche Markets

Artists, potters and artisans have taken over some small towns Szentendre in Hungary The town of Retz in Austria has developed into a major conference town (h) Sport Many small towns are involved in Winter Sports

not just the Alps eg Otepaa, Estonia some have assets which attract both winter and summer visitors - Gstaad in Switzerland (i) Something Odd Crop circles have appeared for years around Stonehenge, England they have attracted many

tourists Farmers in 2013 have guarded their fields and hardly crop circles this year local hotels and pubs have suffered MAKING USE OF LANDSCAPE

Small towns are an integral part of the cultural landscape of rural Europe Many landscapes are recognised as particularly beautiful and designated as National Parks or Regional Parks Landscapes form a critical part of general ambience of small towns They are a key attractions for tourism mountains; hills; coast; lakes; riverside

the countryside & coast also offer a wide range of activities: walking, cycling, riding, canoeing, boating, fishing etc CONCLUSIONS Backbone of rural area thriving small towns contribute to well-being of rural area They are a place for business and entrepreneurship Small towns make a significant contribution to local,

region and national economies There are thousands of small towns across Europe They face many challenges BUT have many opportunities and where local people who live in them feel passionate about their future this passion will make them get involved and empowers them to do something about the town Small towns are distinctive & demonstrate their history and architecture over the centuries CONCLUSIONS 2

They have maintained culture and local customs The landscapes they are set in are part of their character All these small town assets are a major part of the cultural heritage of Europe They are part of the economic resource of a local area, region and nation They need to be recognised for their potential

They need to be supported by policies and funding They have major assets which can be used to exploit rural tourism

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