Painting the town purple

Painting the town purple

PurpleFlag

Weston-super-Mare is celebrating being awarded the prestigious Purple Flag for its evening and night-time economy. Towns achieving Purple Flag status are recognised for providing a vibrant mix of night-time entertainment while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and local residents.

Following a joint submission led by North Somerset Council, Avon and Somerset Police and the Weston Business Improvement District, Purple Flag assessors visited the town on a Saturday night in November.

Their report rated Weston as “above standard” in all the criteria needed to gain Purple Flag status.

The assessors noted the “high visibility policing on the night of inspection with additional agencies present” and a “CCTV suite operational 24/7 with highly trained staff”.

They said “all agencies were in radio contact by way of radio link” and there was “good joined up partnership working”.

The report states: “Weston-super-Mare has much to offer evening/night time visitors with a wide range of entertainment and restaurants open until the early hours.”

It recognised that a vibrant night-time economy is part of an ambitious programme of regeneration under way to develop a more prosperous town centre with a diverse and good quality night-time offer, saying the town centre is “undergoing major regeneration and improvement” and there is a “clear commitment to driving forward the aims and aspirations of the town centre”.

“Purple Flag status is great news for Weston showing it has been judged to offer an entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night out,” said Cllr Felicity Baker, North Somerset Council’s executive member whose portfolio includes community safety. “It demonstrates the range and quality of what Weston’s night-time economy can offer visitors and also helps to make the town centre an attractive place to live.”

“Two years ago the Home Office named Weston as one of only 20 Local Alcohol Action Areas in the country,” said the council’s Community Safety Manager Howard Pothecary. “The Purple Flag award marks the culmination of a great deal of partnership work that has taken place since then 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, anti-social behaviour enforcement, the licensed premises traffic light scheme and the Streetsafe bus Mavis which includes the ambulance service all impressed the assessors.”

Weston’s Neighbourhood Inspector Sharon 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 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. Behind the scenes there has been two years of planning and we’ve already seen reductions in crime. We’re keen to build on this success and develop this approach.”

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in helping Weston-super-Mare achieve Purple Flag status. I’m delighted that the level of partnership working in reducing night-crime economy related crime has been recognised.

“It’s great to see that the projects are making a real difference and that efforts have been acknowledged with national accreditation. It is clear that effective partnerships play a crucial role in helping to tackle crime and in making communities safe and feel safe.”

The Purple Flag national accreditation scheme is managed by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM).

Shanaaz Carroll, CEO (Interim) of the ATCM, said: “There are now almost 70 towns and cities across the UK and Ireland who are proudly flying the Purple Flag after working hard to gain accreditation.

“The award is not just about safety, but also the vibrancy and diversity of the evening and night-time offer. This can only be achieved by people working together and across the country we are seeing some amazing examples of this type of partnership working.”

Weston will officially receive the Purple Flag accreditation at an awards ceremony on 25 February.

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