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Town begins purple reign The Association of Town Centre Management recognises Guildford’s safe, varied and thriving night time economy with the award of a coveted Purple Flag, ensuring a status that is enjoyed by only around 50 towns nationally. By Jennifer Morris
The Mayor of Guildford, Cllr David Elms, was joined by representatives of town groups at Guildhall to celebrate the award of Purple Flag status, presented for Guildford’s successful night-time economy.
THE night time economy in Guildford has been recognised with a special award. Assessors, deeming the centre to be a safe, vibrant and inclusive area come nightfall, have given the town Purple Flag status. The nationally recognised accreditation follows months of close partnership working between Surrey Police, the Business Improvement District (BID) Experience Guildford, Guildford Borough Council and Guildford Pubwatch, along with voluntary groups such as the Guildford Street Angels. The Association of Town Centre Management runs Purple Flag. Assessors look for high safety standards, good transport links and a wide variety of evening activities to offer a welcoming environment for a good night out. Cllr Gordon Jackson, lead for economic development at the borough council, said: “This is excellent news for our town centre and for everyone who’s worked so hard to achieve the coveted Purple Flag. With more than 100 places to eat, drink and socialise, Guildford town centre welcomes thousands of visitors every weekend to enjoy what the town has to offer. “The mix of bars, restaurants, theatres and live music venues means there is
something for everyone to enjoy on a night out. “We work closely with our partners to offer a safe environment for everyone to enjoy their night and get home safely.” The award adds to previous town centre initiatives that have focused on improving Guildford’s night time economy. Behave Or Be Banned was introduced by Experience Guildford in partnership with Guildford Pubwatch and Surrey Police last year, and has, according to these
“This award demonstrates how we can all work together to benefit the town as a whole...” Stuart Craggs organisations, resulted in a 25% reduction in reported alcohol-related antisocial behaviour. The first Best Bar None awards were presented in February this year, also by Experience Guildford, recognising and rewarding venues that demonstrate what is deemed to be best practice. The organisation’s funded taxi marshals have also worked to reduce disturbances at taxi ranks during weekends. Stuart Craggs, night time economy manager at Experience Guildford, said:
“This is such a tremendous achievement for the town, and one that key partners and individual businesses should be proud of. “This award demonstrates how we can all work together to benefit the town as a whole, and recognises the importance that Guildford’s night time economy has on the vibrancy of the borough. “We’ve worked hard to do things right, make a difference and ensure that Guildford continues to be known not just as a great venue for a fun night out, but a safe one as well.” The accreditation process for Purple Flag is similar to those of the Green Flag awards, given for parks, and Blue Flags for beaches. The status means the town must adhere to a comprehensive set of standards, management processes and good practice examples, and enters the town centre into a research, training and development programme. Guildford will now be able to celebrate National Purple Flag Week in September. Only around 50 town centres nationally have achieved the status so far, so it is hoped the accreditation will propel Guildford into the spotlight. The judges considered the categories wellbeing, movement, policy, appeal and place – the layout of the town centre – when making their decision.
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