Town centre nightlife receives ‘brilliant’ Purple Flag accreditation
PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 January 2016
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Weston-super-Mare’s ‘vibrant’ town centre has been officially recognised as a safe and enjoyable place to visit at night, after it was awarded a prestigious purple flag accreditation.
Purple flag assessors praised the town centre for its wide range of entertainment and restaurants and said successful joint work between North Somerset Council, Avon and Somerset Constabulary and the Weston Business Improvement District (BID) was one of the reasons the town was given the award.
The town was inspected just before Christmas, when Weston was assessed as ‘above average’ in all criteria. Inspectors praised visible police patrols and effective radio contact between agencies.
The status award has long been coveted by town leaders, and comes after a previous attempt to secure a purple flag was aborted back in 2013.
Town centre manager Steve Townsend said he ‘could not believe it’ when he learned the latest bid had been successful.
He said: “It is just brilliant news. Everyone has worked incredibly hard during the past three years and there was so much that had to be done in the background before we could even make the application.
“I just could not believe it. It is now about being a destination for people and promoting all the other stuff you can do within the town besides going out and drinking.”
The report also said Weston’s night-time economy is a key part of a regeneration programme aiming to develop a more prosperous town centre.
The council’s community safety manager Howard Pothecary said the decision was the result of initiatives such as the Mavis bus, which enables people on a night out to receive medical care or advice from police and paramedics.
He said: “The purple flag award marks the culmination of a great deal of partnership work that has taken place to reduce night-time economy-related crime and ensure a vibrant town centre.
“Initiatives such as Alive After 5ive in the summer, monthly multi-agency nights of action, antisocial behaviour enforcement, the licensed premises traffic light scheme and the Mavis bus all impressed the assessors.”
Weston’s neighbourhood inspector Sharon Bennett believes work by the police and council was instrumental in making the town centre safe at night.
Insp Bennett said: “This is recognition that police, licensees, local agencies and community groups share the goal of making sure Weston stays a safe place for a night out and work in partnership to achieve it.
“This partnership enables us to spot potential issues early and step in to prevent problems, whether that’s through targeted police patrols, radio contact between agencies, support for licensees, CCTV monitoring or information sharing.”
Central ward councillor Richard Nightingale also praised the council and its partners for earning the award.
He said: “A purple flag is a national indicator that a town’s night-time economy offers a safe environment, good bars and clubs and a variety of arts and cultural attractions with good transport links.
“The council, along with its partners, has worked extremely hard to achieve this national standard of excellence. This will also give tourists the reassurance that Weston is a great and safe place to visit, night and day.”