26th Jun 2019 in Business

By Gareth Neill, BID Manager

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Blue Flag scheme, which beaches, marinas and sustainable boat tourism operators can attain and which recognises them as being safe, clean and eco-friendly as applies. You’re likely to have heard of the Green Flag scheme, which acknowledges the high standards of certain parks. What you may not be aware of is the Purple Flag scheme, which towns and cities can apply for and which can really raise their public profile.

What is The Purple Flag Scheme?

The Purple Flag scheme is similar to the Blue and Green flag schemes. It is an official accreditation that a town or city is a safe and pleasant place to visit during the night and the day for both the residents and anyone who visits.

Areas that receive a Purple Flag are acknowledged for promoting high standards of entertainment, dining and drinking in the area while at the same time promoting care for the safety and wellbeing of the people who use them.

Towns and cities must go through a set of standards, management processes and examples of good practice. All of this is created to transform the town or city’s evening and night-time economy (ENTE) for the better. The scheme can offer training, development and research to help it accomplish this and tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour.

What are these standards?

The scheme has five core standards and the city or town that is applying must meet them to become a Purple Flag status holder. These standards are:

·         The Policy Envelope:  An after-hours policy that displays a clear strategy, which must be based on solid research, an integrated public policy and a successful partnership between different sectors.

·         Wellbeing: Destinations must be safe and welcome, and all sectors must be performing their duties to provide a high standard of customer care.

·         Movement: People must be able to get home safely after an evening or night out. They must also be able walk around the city centre easily. These are both indispensable requirements.

·         Appeal: The destination must offer a colourful choice of leisure and entertainment facilities for a variety of different ages, groups, cultures and lifestyles.

·         Place: A successful destination must be lively during the day-time and evening and have available a mixture of overlapping activities that allow and encourage people to socialise and enjoy the place. The destination must reinforce the area’s character and identity and establish further its creativity and flair for urban design when it comes to the evening.

Who supports the scheme?

The Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) is leading the scheme, which has received the backing of the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Offers, Tourism NI Chambers of Commerce and Hospitality Ulster, as well as Diageo and other businesses.

Is anyone else taking part in the scheme?

Other parts of Northern Ireland have already gotten on board with the scheme and achieved Purple Flag status. These are:

·         Derry-Londonderry

·         Enniskillen

·         Armagh

·         Newry

Anyone else?

According to the ATCM, 70 towns and cities have the privilege of Purple Flag status, including Swansea, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester and London West End’s Convent Garden and Leicester Square areas.

Other notable towns, cities and areas include Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Dublin

Why should you support it?

Research has shown that people across all age groups are looking for genuine places to be eat, dine and be entertained. According to Tourism Northern Ireland, tourism brings £723 million each year into the Northern Irish economy.

To earn Purple Flag status would really raise Belfast’s public profile as a city. By transforming local areas and becoming a Purple Flag accreditation, it could become even more attractive to visitors than it already is and businesses could benefit from a higher footfall, increased revenue and a wider range of patrons.

Not only this, the scheme has the potential to create more diversification. Belfast would be able to offer consumers a wider choice. The city will benefit from more development and expenditure, and become a (more) successful mixed-use economy. With an anticipated influx of student population; new residents living in the City Centre ensuring we have the right mechanisms for developing a safe, clean and welcoming evening economy is incredibly important.

These are all potential benefits at a time when Belfast itself is aiming to meet both the requirements and the expectations of new residents, employers and tourists as an international city should. The hotel sector is forever expanding and city living is increasing, and each year Belfast receives 250,000 business visitors and over 60,000 conference attendees. Meanwhile, one-third of the Belfast population is under 21. They all seek an enhanced, more vibrant experience of the city.

Who can take part?

The scheme is open to local authorities, town centre partnerships, business improvement districts (BIDs), Pubwatch partnerships, local community societies or voluntary bodies (civic societies) and partnerships that work together to reduce crime and disorder.

If you’re not sure whether you can take part, you can contact the scheme leaders to see if you’re eligible. Often, the police or the local authority will be leading.

Cathedral Quarter BID

CQ BID has joined forces with the Belfast One BID and Linen Quarter BID to make a submission to the ATCM (Association of Town Centre Management) for Purple Flag status.

A project fund has been established to take forward the initiative. At present this is a business funded project with a multi-stakeholder steering group to apply in October 2019 to ATCM to secure Purple Flag status in February 2020.

For more information about what you can do to help the campaign for Purple Flag status get in touch with me gareth.neill@destinationcq.com, log onto cathedralquarterbelfast.com or connect on Facebook,Twitter or Instagram.

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