As hinted at by the recent purple illumination of city landmarks, Chester has been granted “Purple Flag” status at a national awards ceremony. The award is recognition for the city’s night time economy , which until very recently was often viewed negatively.
After a year long campaign from the Chester BID working with the council and other organisations, including Cheshire Police, Pubwatch and the University of Chester, the judges deemed Chester to be worthy of an award commenting that the night time city was “clean, welcoming and vibrant …with an abundance of evidence of its historic past”, whilst also recognising the “diverse range of options for families, young people and adults available during the day and night time economy.”
The national Purple Flag presentation ceremony took place at the Cathedral last week, with representatives from other cities including Aberdeen, Bath, Canterbury, Liverpool and Nottingham in attendance. BID manager Carl Critchlow said he was “immensely proud” and that “a lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to make this possible and the award is testament to the efforts of so many individuals, organisations and businesses who work hard every day to ensure visitors to Chester can experience an entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night out. ”
Praising the teamwork which led to the recognition, which was no doubt boosted by the emergence of Storyhouse, as well as other cultural spaces, live music venues and bars and restaurants, the BID leader commented that there was still hard work to be done. “We remain remain committed to ensuring Chester city centre continues to be a world-class destination where people come to shop, dine and play.”
Chester was one of only two places to receive a new Purple Flag accreditation, with Southport also being granted the award for the first time. Established in 2012, the Purple Flag programme is managed by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) and is similar to the Blue Flag award for beaches, but instead aims to raise standards and broaden the appeal of night time and evening economies within towns and city centres across the UK.
Councillor Louise Gittins, cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: “Purple Flag status is a wonderful achievement for our beautiful city and we’ve been delighted to play our part in the campaign.
In the official report, Purple Flag assessors highlighted the positive impact of Storyhouse, which opened in May 2017, commenting on “the range of facilities it provides for visitors, including theatre, cinema, art and library facilities available for all ages to enjoy.” Safety standards across the city were also praised , alongside the Street Pastors and the work of Pubwatch, Frank Marnell, chairman of Chester Pubwatch, added: “Everyone that works in Chester’s night time economy has pulled together to help us achieve this award and it’s something everyone should be really proud of.”