Time to fly the Purple Flag

BID members David Owens, Billy Muirhead, Elizabeth Murphy and Paul Woodcock .
BID members David Owens, Billy Muirhead, Elizabeth Murphy and Paul Woodcock .

The city has begun its drive to be awarded Purple Flag status.

And the managing director of four of the city’s biggest night-time venues will lead the push to get Wakefield formally recognised as a safe, diverse, entertaining and enjoyable place to go for a night out.

Bill Muirhead, who runs Unity Hall, The Establishment, After Dark and Kookys, was appointed as a new Wakefield Business Improvement District (BID) director this week.

His role will see him work with BID members, Wakefield Council and West Yorkshire Police to make the city one of 70 places across the UK and Ireland to have reached the standard.

Mr Muirhead said: “There’s a lot of work to be done to reach Purple Flag status but the important thing is that the process is starting.

“It won’t happen overnight but there’s a lot of willingness to make it happen and to improve things in the night sector.

“As long as we can see progress and keep things moving forward, we can make this happen and make a difference.”

Initiatives will be introduced to help make the city more diverse, look more pleasant and become safer.

Already training has been planned for a Drink Aware scheme, to support vulnerable people on nights out. It could be introduced from May.

And plans are being put in place to bring in the Ask Angela initiative, a campaign that supports people who feel uneasy in pubs and clubs to discreetly approach staff and ask for help.

Purple Flag status is awarded by the Association of Town and City Management, and works in a similar way to the Green Flag award for parks and Blue Flags for beaches.

It is an indicator of where to go for a good night out and acknowledges that an area’s night-time economy offers clean and safe environments, great bars and clubs, a variety of arts and cultural attractions and excellent transport links.

And places with the flag have reported a 15 per cent increase in daytime trade.

BID Manager Liz Murphy said: “Businesses want to showcase the city centre and get it to a standard that’s nationally known and understood.

“Purple Flag status will show the quality and diverse offering that Wakefield has.”

The Wakefield Express is backing BID.