Norwich seeking 'safe city' award

Sarah HallThe Purple Flag could soon be flying over Norwich - to show the city is a great place to stick around in after night has fallen.Sarah Hall

The Purple Flag could soon be flying over Norwich - to show the city is a great place to stick around in after night has fallen.

Just as good beaches have Blue Flags and decent parks fly Green Flags, the newly-launched Purple Flag scheme highlights places which offer great entertainment and hospitality after dusk.

The scheme is run by the Association of Town Centre Management and officials at the Norwich City Centre Partnership want Norwich to be added to the list of towns and cities which have gained the accreditation so far.

The application for the city centre to gain a Purple Flag has been backed by Norfolk police and Norwich City Council, in the hope it will overcome any negative public perceptions about safety in the city centre in the evenings.

Stefan Gurney, city centre partnership manager, said: 'We think Norwich has a very vibrant night time offering and we think a national award would reflect that.

'We have a diverse offering in the city at night, with theatres, cinemas, bars, pubs and nightclubs, and we are starting on the process of getting a bid in.'

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To qualify for the new scheme, Norwich will have to prove it provides a mix of facilities, not just pubs for young adults.

Independent assessors will also judge the areas on safety issues such as CCTV cameras, cleanliness, policing and how easy it is to get around.

The scheme, backed by the Home Office, wants to encourage more people to visit cities between the hours of 5pm and 6am.

Mr Gurney said: 'We want the flag to show that people love going out in Norwich; that it's safe, there's good public transport, it's clean, friendly and there's a wide range of entertainment for people.'

He added the flag would also be a tourism boost, as well as reinforcing the point to people who live locally that there is lots to do in the city after the shops have shut.

Among the first places to be awarded the flags are two of London's most popular tourist quarters - Leicester Square and Covent Garden.

They were awarded the status last month, along with the centres of Birmingham, Bath, Kingston-upon-Thames and Manchester.

Cities which win the status are entitled to fly the Purple Flag for two years and are expected to do more to broaden what they offer at night and to make further improvements to the facilities and services available.

The next set of applications will need to be submitted by July and, elsewhere in Norfolk, Great Yarmouth has also expressed an interest in trying to secure one of the flags.

Civic leaders in Norwich are especially keen to highlight the positives of what the city has to offer in the wake of a number of high profile court cases involving late night attacks, including the killing of banker Frank McGarahan in Guildhall Hill and the deaths in Prince of Wales Road of Drayton man Philip Ward and Timothy Moore, from Templemere in Norwich.

Do you think Norwich deserves to win a Purple Flag? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email