Darlington’s town centre night time economy has received some welcome news as the town is awarded the Interim Renewal Accreditation for its Purple Flag status. It is almost exactly one year ago that the town became the first in the North East to be awarded Purple Flag status, a standard awarded to those towns and cities across the UK that offer safe and enjoyable nights out.
The news comes after detailed reports were submitted showing how the town has met the set criteria for the award. This included the submissions of videos and visual evidence which replaced assessors’ visits that were unable to take place due to Covid restrictions.
Although much of the town centre economy has been shut down for most of 2020, there have been developments. The installation of a new defibrillator at the town clock, for example, and a special Purple themed week of events in October, have all helped towards the reaccreditation.
Town centre businesses were offered support and advice to help comply with Covid restrictions and many events were changed to protect public safety. Themed town trails and roaming street entertainers replaced static events which would draw large crowds. The ever-popular Christmas lights switch on was moved online and attracted 23713 views on the night.
In addition, physical changes were made to the town centre during the summer as evening pavement café areas were created to allow more venues to cater for diners in a Covid-safe setting. An updated food and drinks guide was also created and distributed to local residents and the Enjoy Darlington web page offered a takeaway directory service for local outlets.
Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said:
“This is wonderful news and gives us a brief opportunity to celebrate and to look to the future when things will hopefully begin to return to what they were.
“Who would have thought that when we announced the news of our initial success with Purple Flag last year, that such a difficult and trying time lay ahead for everyone; including those businesses who depend on the night time economy to survive.
“Many thanks to all involved, including our partners in the Police and town centre businesses, who have worked together to ensure we retain this important accreditation.”
The Purple Flag standard is an accreditation process similar to the Green Flag award for parks and the Blue Flag for beaches. It helps people to quickly identify town and city centres that offer an entertaining, varied, safe and enjoyable night out. Purple Flag assessors look for how safe and welcoming the town feels, how easy it is to move around the town and to get home safely, how good the range of leisure and entertainment venues are in terms of choice, and how the town generally looks and feels.