City aiming for ‘gold standard’ on night-time entertainment

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HULL could join London’s Covent Garden, Kingston upon Thames and Bath by receiving recognition for the standard, quality and safety of its city centre as a night-time entertainment area.

The city council, in partnership with Humberside Police and other agencies, plans to apply for a purple flag award next year in what would be a significant boost for the evening economy.

Similar to the blue flag scheme for beaches, purple flags are viewed as the “gold standard” for entertainment and hospitality zones at night. They are awarded by the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM), Europe’s largest membership organisation, and are expected to trigger a range of benefits, including:

A raised profile and an improved image;

Increased visitor numbers;

Increased spending;

Less crime and anti-social behaviour;

A more successful “mixed-use” economy.

The scheme is intended to broaden the appeal of town and city centres between 5pm and 6am.The ATCM said: “Most significantly, it is designed to provide recognition that your centre is managing its night time experience and thus help overcome any negative public perceptions that may exist.

“Purple Flag provides the opportunity for successful centres to present themselves in their true colours and in a positive light to town centre users, including operators, residents, tourists and visitors.”

Hull’s application is expected to be submitted in June next year.

The council’s portfolio holder for neighbourhoods and families, Councillor John Hewitt, said: “Hull has a vibrant night time economy offering something for everyone. The council and our community safety partners are working towards achieving Purple Flag status, which is the gold seal of approval for safe, attractive and well-managed town and city centres.”

If successful, the award would also represent an achievement for police and their partners, including the city’s Business Improvement District, in their ongoing efforts to drive crime and anti-social behaviour from the city centre.

Through Operation Nevada, Humberside Police is leading a Home Office pilot to crack down on drunkenness and anti-social behaviour in the city.

This includes the issuing of “red cards” to rowdy drinkers barring them from the city centre or other areas for the next 48 hours.

As part of innovative efforts to improve behaviour, these “offenders” receive a follow-up visit from officers to explain the consequences of their actions and may be offered a referral to alcohol advisory services.

Anyone who breaches the order faces an £80 fine and arrest for the original offence.

A total of 559 red cards have been issued since January. For people who continue to misbehave, the sanction is the first step towards a possible drink banning order, which bars people from licensed premises and drinking in the street in designated areas.

A breach of this order leads to a fine of at least £2,500.

A total of 69 DBOs have been obtained since January and have had significant success.

The offenders involved committed 121 assaults prior to the order but only seven since; they committed 206 disorder offences before the order and nine since; and 78 other offences pre-order and just three since.

A CCTV van to gather evidence and deter offenders is also used between 8pm and 4am each Saturday.

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector Barry Longstaff said of the purple flag scheme: “It means people can come to Hull and have a good time.

“There are diverse opportunities to enjoy yourself with friends and family, and it means there’s a framework for us to work to.”

However, officials still think that better street lighting and other improvements may be needed in the area.