Year-long campaign led by CH1ChesterBID in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council and other organisations sees Chester achieve the coveted standard, which recognises UK towns and cities that offer an 'entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night out'
Key landmarks across the city including Chester Cathedral and Chester Town Hall have been lit up purple to celebrate the “fantastic achievement”
Chester city centre has been awarded the coveted ‘Purple Flag’ status in recognition of its flourishing night time economy.
As part of a 12-month campaign led by CH1ChesterBID, assessors visited Chester in 2017 to evaluate the city centre against a series of core themes, including wellbeing, movement, broad appeal and destination.
Chester passed with flying colours, with judges describing it as a "clean, welcoming and vibrant city 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 campaign for Purple Flag status was driven by CH1ChesterBID – Chester’s Business Improvement District (BID) – in partnership with Cheshire West and Chester Council and other organisations, including Cheshire Police, Chester Pubwatch, the University of Chester, and several third sector groups.
In recognition of the achievement, Chester was chosen to host the national Purple Flag presentation ceremony, with leaders from other towns and cities including Aberdeen, Bath, Canterbury, Liverpool and Nottingham attending a glittering awards ceremony at Chester Cathedral to collect their accreditations.
Key landmarks across the city have also been illuminated purple in celebration. Chester Cathedral was lit up purple for the presentation night, and Chester Town Hall, the Eastgate Clock and the Chapel on the University of Chester’s Parkgate Campus are set to stay purple over the next few days.
Carl Critchlow, BID Manager at CH1ChesterBID, said: "This is a fantastic achievement for Chester city centre and we're immensely proud to have successfully driven the bid for Purple Flag status.
“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.
“We were thrilled to host the Purple Flag presentation ceremony right here in the heart of the city and I think that just emphasises how highly regarded Chester is in terms of class-leading UK destinations.
“The award shows what can be achieved when we get everyone working together in the best interests of the city, but the hard work definitely doesn’t stop here, and we 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.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to see all the positive comments from the judges in relation to the quality of our city centre bars, clubs, restaurants, cultural attractions and public buildings.
“On top of that, we’ve also demonstrated that there is a genuine spirit of partnership and collaboration, with everyone working collectively to provide high standards of safety, public transport, strategy and leadership right across the city.
“We're delighted that the judging panel have measured us across all these areas and come to the unanimous decision that Chester city centre is fully deserving of Purple Flag status.”
In the official report, Purple Flag assessors highlighted the positive impact of Storyhouse, commenting on "the range of facilities it provides for visitors, including theatre, cinema, art and library facilities available for all ages to enjoy."
There was additional praise for safety standards across the city, with assessors noting that "visible policing was present throughout the assessment, including officers on foot patrol and in police vehicles".
The Chester Pubwatch scheme operating in the city centre was also commended in the report, as was the ongoing work of the Chester Street Pastors team.
“The safety of residents across Cheshire is a major priority for all of us at Cheshire Police,” added Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner, David Keane. “And this is worthy recognition of the incredible strides we have made as a force, and as a group of organisations working together, to make Chester as well as other towns and villages safer and more secure for residents, families and city visitors.
“It’s important we continue to find ways to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour across the county, so our work doesn’t stop here.”
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.
“From bar staff to door staff, the welfare of customers has always been of the utmost importance and we’re thrilled to have that recognised officially through Purple Flag status.”
Professor Tim Wheeler, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Chester, said: "Chester has long enjoyed a reputation for being safe and Purple Flag status reinforces both that and makes the city an even more desirable destination for prospective students.
"It's been a pleasure to work so closely with CH1ChesterBID and other organisations on this project and we're looking forward to continuing to build on all the successful partnerships that have been instrumental in helping us get this accreditation."
There are around 70 towns and cities in the UK that have been awarded Purple Flag status by the ATCM, which works alongside a partnership of key stakeholder groups backed by Government, police and businesses. For more information, visit www.atcm.org.