City seeks star status as nightspot

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HULL could soon be ranked alongside Covent Garden, Kingston upon Thames and Canterbury for the quality of its night-time entertainment after its application for Purple Flag status was accepted.

The scheme, which is similar to the Blue Flag accreditation for good beaches, is run by the Association of Town Centre Management, Europe’s largest membership organisation, and aims to reward those who provide “a better night out” for visitors.

The application was submitted by the city council, Humberside Police, NHS Hull and Hull Business Improvement District, and the next stage will see assessors visit the city in September to find out what it has to offer.

The award is expected to help deliver a range of benefits including increased visitor numbers,
increased spending, less crime and anti-social behaviour, and a more successful mixed-use economy.

Coun John Hewitt, the council’s portfolio holder for neighbourhoods and communities, said: “By creating a safe, welcoming and well-managed environment, Hull will see more visitors and business people coming into the city and this will generate more income.

“It will also encourage residents to use the facilities on offer in the city centre.”

The city has already been preparing the ground with a range of improvements and initiatives over the last year, including the introduction of Street Marshalls and Street Angels, development of the Old Town Pubs and Clubs Group, introduction of a night bus scheme, and improvements to street cleaning and lighting.

However, the partners may have to do more to reduce levels of drunken violence, with some residents not feeling safe entering the city centre at night.

The council highlighted the “wider use of polycarbonate glasses” as one of the positive steps, but the fact that glasses may be used as a weapon suggests there is still work to do.

However, initiatives such as the issuing of “red cards” to trouble-makers barring them from the area have had an effect and in the last year there has been a 25 per cent fall in the number of recorded crimes.

The new head of policing the city at night-time, Inspector Wes Connolly, is backing the application. He said: “As a key person involved for policing Hull’s night-time economy, I am committed to ensure we provide a highly visible policing presence, so that people who visit the city centre during evenings and weekends feel safe and are safe.

“The hard work and commitment of all the partnerships in the application to achieve Purple Flag status has been outstanding. The excellent work of Hull Street Angels Trinity and the Street Marshalls complement the work of police officers on the ground, who engage with visitors on a regular basis. Police also work with licensed premises to support many initiatives such as Pub Watch.

“There is some great work being conducted by many of the businesses to widen the appeal of the city centre in an evening, and passing the first stage of the Purple Flag application demonstrates the concerted effort being applied to improve the city and showcase all that it has to offer.”

Kathryn Shillito, manager of Hull Business Improvement District, added: “We want to make Hull city centre the place to go day and night and a huge amount of really good work has already been done. With our partners, we will continue the good management of night-time areas, that’s not just about licensed premises, and continue to develop the appeal of the city centre at night.

“The Purple Flag application demonstrates Hull has a wide variety of venues offering something a little bit different to do, such as a comedy evening or live music event, rather than just providing a drinking environment.

“It’s about pulling together all the interests in the area, whether that be dining, art, theatre, comedy or dancing, to make sure it is a vibrant place to visit and people feel safe.”