CHESTER’S chances of gaining the latest city gong are slim, says Christine Russell MP.
The Purple Flag, to be launched next spring, will be awarded to family-friendly town centres which offer a mix of facilities for all ages at night.
The brainchild of The Civic Trust and backed by police and civic leaders, the accolade will go to cities and towns where families and couples can go out at night without being affected by binge drinkers. It is similar to the green flag scheme for parks and gardens, which is also operated by the Civic Trust.
Without a theatre or a cinema Mrs Russell thinks Chester stands no chance.
She said: “For a city of national and international standing like Chester to stand a chance of winning an award like this it needs to offer a permanent and vibrant arts and cultural scene.”
Following the closure of the city’s Gateway Theatre and the Odeon cinema in 2007, and the stalled Northgate development, Chester will be hard pressed to qualify for the “appeal” section of the award which is broken down in to four key areas: Wellbeing, Movement, Appeal and Place.
Paul Davies, of The Civic Trust, said: “A city or town doesn’t necessarily have to have a theatre and cinema to qualify but we will be looking for an imaginative programme of events that appeals to all ages.”
Mrs Russell added: “The decision makers have got to realise that urban renaissance is all about attracting as wide a cross section of people as possible.”
Mrs Russell praised the city’s policing and feels that Chester offers a wide range of restaurants but would like to see more coffee bars open during the evening for teenagers.
To qualify for the purple flag, towns will be assessed between 6pm and 5am the following morning, probably on a Friday or Saturday night. As well as entertainment, assessors will also judge safety issues such as street lighting and CCTV, cleanliness, policing and the availability of public transport.
Chester’s City Centre Management is in consultation with the Civic Trust about the scheme.