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Westport to seek ‘Purple Flag’ status as top night-time destination

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Westport to seek ‘Purple Flag’ status as top night-time destination


Neill O’Neill


WESTPORT is vying to be internationally recognised as a safe, clean, vibrant and friendly town in which to socialise.
Local agencies are launching a bid for Purple Flag status for the town. Similar to Blue Flag accreditations, which indicate a gold-standard water amenity wherever they fly, the Purple Flag is an international award that recognises excellence in managing town centres with a focus on night-time economy.
The scheme is not necessarily about being crime free. The criteria is based on towns being welcoming, clean and safe; facilitating a secure pattern of arrival a circulation and departure for those out socialising; having a broad appeal with a vibrant choice and a rich mix of entertainment and activity; and being a stimulating destination and a vital place.
The Purple Flag initiative is run by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), in partnership with relevant industries, such as publicans and restauranteurs, retailers, local government, An Garda Síochana and consumers themselves. Rolled out across the UK in recent years, it is based on extensive research, market testing and pilot projects.
So far, 45 towns and city centres across the UK and Ireland have been awarded Purple Flags since the scheme was launched in 2009, while the first two locations in Ireland where Purple Flags were flying were Dublin and Ennis.
Research shows that the benefits of Purple Flag status include a raised profile and an improved public image; wider patronage; increased expenditure; lower crime and anti-social behaviour and a more-successful mixed-use economy.
In Westport, the project will be led by the Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Westport Town Council and other partners, such as the Gardaí, the vintners and those involved in the services and tourism sectors.
At last week’s meeting of Westport Town Council, the initiative was warmly welcomed around the table, and was deemed by councillors to fit in well with the ethos of the town.
A hope was expressed that all the organisations involved would grasp the opportunity and work together to ensure a Purple Flag is soon flying over Westport.