Published on 28th May 2021

Purple flag flying outside the muni

The recent easing of COVID restrictions and the reopening of hospitality venues across the UK has coincided with the news that Cheltenham has again retained Purple Flag status.

The Purple Flag is for the borough's evening and night-time economy, which it has now held for five consecutive years. 

Purple Flag is a national town and city centre award – similar to the Blue Flag for beaches – which aims to raise the standard and broaden the appeal of town and city centres between 5pm and 5am. Areas awarded the Purple Flag are recognised for providing a vibrant and diverse mix of dining, entertainment and culture while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and local residents.

Purple Flag accreditation is an annual award and having successfully applied for accreditation for the first time in 2016, Cheltenham has had to demonstrate a continuing commitment to developing and maintaining a safe evening and night-time economy (ENTE) which appeals to all.

This year’s application would normally have been followed up by a visit from external assessors however due to the pandemic and the closure of most of the hospitality sector the application was externally assessed on submitted evidence and interviews with relevant officers and partner organisations.

The focus of assessors this year was on retaining safety standards within the hospitality sector especially during recovery from lockdown.

In their written feedback, the award adjudication panel made very positive comments about the work of stakeholders, including:

  • Proactive policing and licensing actions taken through the various COVID 19 stages, looking to continue through the current restart process. Cheltenham has been a national leader in this aspect, supportive of venues and providing clarity.
  • The Cheltenham Recovery Plan and Licensing Recovery Plans have received national recognition and will be used by other towns. The work here should be recognised as exceptional.
  • Special note of the work of the Licensing Team and stakeholders for strategic work for post pandemic recovery and the close support for businesses.
  • There is a high level of 5 star rated premises, which is very good for customer confidence and bodes well for a COVID safe environment in recovery.
  • Together with a robust partnership and positive relations between agencies proven in the very challenging condition of the pandemic these factors give every reason for confidence in Cheltenham’s recovery in the near future.

Overall, the assessors rated the work around wellbeing and public safety as excellent/outstanding.

Cllr Martin Horwood, cabinet member for customer and regulatory services, said: “Cheltenham is a brilliant place for night out and clubbing and quality night spots have made a fantastic contribution to our local economy over time. But they’ve been hit hard by the pandemic. We’re completely focussed on recovery from Covid so this Purple Flag award couldn’t come at a better time. It’s great Cheltenham has been awarded Purple Flag status for the fifth year running. Huge thanks goes to all involved.

"We will continue to work hard to retain our Purple Flag and make sure that as we deliver recovery, nights out in Cheltenham continue to be safe, entertaining, diverse and above all fun.”

Colin Pilsworth, night-time economy coordinator for Cheltenham Borough Council and coordinator for Purple Flag in Cheltenham, commented: ‘‘The hospitality economy has been affected by the pandemic more than any other sector. Everyone involved in running and managing our evening and night-time economy has been working hard to maintain safety standards throughout the pandemic and that work continues as we see venues starting to reopen.

‘’The positive assessment of our efforts through the Purple Flag scheme shows visitors and customers that they can continue to visit their favourite bars and restaurants safe in the knowledge that everything possible has been done to keep them safe.”

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About Purple Flag

The Purple Flag programme was developed following the Civic Trust’s “Night Vision” report in 2006, and is now managed by the Association of Town & City Management.

Purple Flag is:

  • An accreditation process similar to Green Flag Award for parks and Blue Flag for beaches. It leads to Purple Flag status for town centres that meet or surpass the standards of excellence in managing the evening and night-time economy.
  • A comprehensive set of standards, management processes and good practice examples designed to help transform town and city centres at night.
  • A research, training and development programme, to help towns and cities improve their evening and night-time economy.
  • A positive initiative that indicates an entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night out.