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First in Scotland for Aberdeen as it achieves Purple Flag status
Aberdeen has become the first city in Scotland to achieve prestigious Purple Flag status, a national accreditation recognising city and town centres that excel in managing the night time experience.
Representatives from the city picked up the award at a ceremony in Liverpool on Friday 29 November.
Much like the Blue Flag award for exemplary beaches, the Purple Flag scheme is an accreditation by the Association of Town and City Managers (ATCM).
Backed by Government, police and business, as well as sponsors Diageo Great Britain, the scheme looks at the wellbeing, movement, appeal and sense of place within a city centre, with successful candidates able to showcase a range of initiatives aimed at attracting visitors to the area during the evening and night.
Purple Flag assessors visited Aberdeen in September to scrutinise the city nightlife, and were impressed with what they saw.
Aberdeen's bid to be accredited was led by the Business Improvement District (BID) Aberdeen Inspired with support from Aberdeen City Council, Police Scotland, Unight and other organisations.
Geoff Cooper, director of Aberdeen Inspired with responsibility for the organisation's safe and secure theme, said: "This award is testimony to the hard work that Aberdeen Inspired, alongside a number of organisations has put in to making Aberdeen's city centre nightlife an attractive and safe offering to visitors.
"Being the first city in Scotland to be accredited highlights that this has been a focused project, with invaluable support from Aberdeen City Council, Police Scotland, Unight, Aberdeen Street Pastors, Safer Aberdeen and the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.
"Although the accreditation has now been achieved, we will not rest on our laurels and we have already committed to invest over £150,000 during the current financial year as part of our safe and secure theme.
"We look forward to continuing to play our part in building a brighter future for the city of Aberdeen."
Barney Crockett, Aberdeen City Council leader councillor, said: "This prestigious accreditation is testament to the exhaustive efforts in recent years to improve safety in Aberdeen city centre.
"The council has worked closely with a range of organisations in the public and third sectors, as well as city centre businesses and retailers, to achieve this and I would like to pay tribute to everyone who has helped make this a reality.
"This is an outstanding example of individuals and organisations working together for the greater good of the community and I commend all involved.
"Alcohol-related violence and antisocial behaviour remains one of the greatest challenges facing any town or city but this recognition from the ATCM proves that we are on top of the situation in Aberdeen and clearly heading in the right direction.
"Night time initiatives like the Street Pastors and taxi marshals have been a real success story, providing a listening ear or friendly advice at just the right time. The Council-led Safer Aberdeen programme has been another success and was introduced with the sole remit of focusing in on measures to prevent crime and disorder in the city centre.
"More practical measures like improved street lighting or changes to bus and taxi ranks have also played an important role in getting to where we are today. It is important now to keep this momentum going and I am in no doubt our work will continue to be recognised on the national stage."
Police Scotland Chief Inspector George MacDonald, area commander Aberdeen city centre, said: "The Purple Flag accreditation is the culmination of more than six years of hard work to totally change the approach to public safety in Aberdeen particularly during the night time economy.
"The award is a massive endorsement of the very strong and effective partnership relationships which have developed. We have a very clear collaborative focus on safety and ensuring that Aberdeen continues to be one of the most vibrant and welcoming cities in the country and to illustrate the level of joint working there have been at least 80 separate partnership groups ranging from public, private and voluntary sectors all playing their part to embrace the safety message.
"We are not complacent, there will always be challenges but we will deal with these collectively. We have seen violent crime reduce by more than 60% over the last five years and indeed since the inception of Police Scotland on April 1 this year a further 20% reduction in comparison to the same period last year. This translates to approximately 180 less victims of alcohol fuelled crime this year alone. However we must do everything we can to maintain this performance."
Martin Blackwell, ATCM chief executive, said: "It is fantastic for the local community and for a city in Scotland to be awarded Purple Flag status for the first time. Aberdeen has worked very hard to provide an outstanding evening economy, and the ATCM, along with our sponsor Diageo GB, hope that this award will encourage other Scottish towns and cities to achieve such standards in the future."