Cheltenham’s night-time economy is one of the safest and best managed in the country.
In 2016 Cheltenham was first awarded Purple Flag status by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) in recognition of its excellent evening and night time economy. The award has been successfully maintained each year since then.
Purple Flag is a prestigious town and city centre award – similar to Blue Flags that are presented to outstanding beaches and Green Flags for excellent parks. Through the Purple Flag scheme, the ATCM aims to recognise and highlight towns and cities that are committed to raising standards and broadening their appeal, specifically between the hours of 5pm and 5am.
The award recognises centres that have a vibrant and diverse mix of dining, entertainment, leisure and cultural offers available, while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and local residents.
Cheltenham’s Purple Flag status is supported by a working group made up of representatives from the local licensed trade, Cheltenham Borough Council, the voluntary sector, the police, Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID), the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the University of Gloucestershire Students' Union.
Purple Flag accreditation is renewable annually and in their written feedback on their most recent assessment (which took place in December 2018), the ATCM Purple Flag adjudication panel reported a very positive perception of the town and noted:
- The regency architecture, parks, gardens and pedestrianised areas make the town attractive to visitors, with floodlighting of public and privately owned buildings at night
- A fantastic mix of venues for a town of this size, suitable for all ages and tastes
- A wide range of eating venues and a commitment to good food existing throughout the town
- Streets were well-lit and very appealing to walkers and people on their own
- General level of street cleaning was very good
- A strong sense of community and business partnership anchored throughout the night-time economy
In addition the panel noted the excellent, strong partnership working between all agencies (statutory and voluntary), including the police and the borough council, and the street pastors with their safe space (known as the stable) which provides a drop-in location for vulnerable people in a safe and mutual environment. The town was assessed as excellent/outstanding for its broad appeal - an evening and late night offer that is broader than youth oriented and alcohol-based activity.
Cheltenham and its licensed venues have also been operating in accordance with national best practice in its evening and night-time economy. These schemes that operate in Cheltenham are:
Best Bar None
Best Bar None is a National Award Scheme supported by the Home Office and the drinks industry which is aimed primarily at promoting responsible management and operation of alcohol licensed premises.
It was piloted in Manchester in 2003 and found to improve standards in the Evening and Night Time Economy, with premises now competing to participate. It has since been adopted by 75 town and cities across the UK and is now being taken up internationally.
The Cheltenham Night Safe scheme links night time operators, licensed premises, Gloucestershire police and the police’s CCTV control room to each other through the radio link scheme.
The aim of the scheme is to reduce crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in the night time economy through initiatives such as the Reducing Alcohol Related Violence (RARV) project, Best Bar None and the online offender exclusion database.
Street pastors are trained volunteers from local churches who care about their community.
They patrol in teams of men and women, usually from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on a Friday and Saturday night, to care for, listen to and help people who are out on the streets. On those nights, the Street Pastors also staff a specially converted horse box to provide a safe space in the town centre to help late night revellers and victims of crime.
Centrally located in Ormond Place, between the Promenade and Regent Street from 10.00pm to 04.00am each night the unit, referred to as the Stable, provides seating and has mobile phone charging points plus flip-flops, foil blankets, water and sweets if anyone needs them.
Student Community Patrols
Student Community Patrollers are University of Gloucestershire volunteers, who have been trained to Seccurity Industry Authority (SIA) standard to assist students and non-students who get into difficulty on the popular Monday and Wednesday student nights out. Funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, the volunteers are highly valued and make a real difference in the community.
Cheltenham Guardians are a team of welfare officers providing dynamic and advanced emergency safeguarding and welfare services in Cheltenham every Saturday night between 10pm and 7am.
The Guardians work closely with strategic partners Gloucestershire Constabulary and Cheltenham Safe as part of a wider and structured response to Cheltenham's night time economy.
The service is reliant upon a team of remarkable volunteers who give their time freely in the service of others.