Judges have been given a whistle-stop tour of Aberdeen’s night life as the Granite City bids to retain its coveted purple flag status for a record-breaking seventh year.
The Purple Flag award – similar to the Blue Flag scheme for beaches –is an annual accolade which rewards safety in cities.
Aberdeen, which once had a notorious reputation for drunkenness and anti-social behaviour during weekend nights, has turned itself around in recent years with the introduction of the likes of street pastors and increased police patrols.
However, critics have said the oil price crash has simply meant there are fewer people in the city centre at weekends with less disposable cash among the population.
The judges were shown the newly-renovated art gallery, Union Terrace Gardens and the Music Hall early on Saturday night.
They were then taken to the iconic Grill pub on Union Street, given a walking tour of Nuart artworks and a briefing from the police, then moving on to the Tunnels and Drummonds nightclubs before rounding off at various cocktail bars.
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdeen City Council and the countless other partners understand that, in order to continue to bring vibrancy and inward investment into our great city centre, it fundamentally needs to be safe.
“We can take great pride that it is just that and one of the safest cities of its scale and size in the United Kingdom.
“The first Scottish city to hold the coveted Purple Flag, we are aiming for an unprecedented seventh consecutive year, while recognising there is absolutely no room for complacency through this rigorous process.”
Sarah Wheeler, the general manager at Soul, said the benefits to night-life spots brought by Purple Flag status “cannot be underestimated”.
She added: “Businesses are unified in their support of the wider safety partnership, with all the hard work undertaken making the night-time experience one of the safest in the country.”
Councillor Marie Boulton, the city centre and cultural lead for the local authority, said the council was “delighted” that the Granite City can be “exemplar” to others.
And David Howieson, the police’s city centre chief inspector in Aberdeen added: “Our officers work extremely hard to ensure the city centre is a safe and enjoyable place to live, work and visit, and we have been extremely proud to play our part in securing the purple flag for the past six years.”
Nicola Johnston, Aberdeen Inspired evening and night-time economy manager, said: “Over the course of their visit, assessors were given a tour of the city centre at night, taking in a range of venues such as bars, nightclubs, restaurants, coffeehouses and businesses who all play their part in making Aberdeen city centre a safe, vibrant and enjoyable place to live, work and visit.”
Aberdeen Performing Arts chief executive, Jane Spiers, said: “There are lots of positive things happening in the city centre at the moment, and we are proud to be part of such a lively and vibrant emerging cultural scene.”
Gerry Bowyer, Aberdeen Street Pastors director, said: “We are fully committed to working within the partnerships and Aberdeen Inspired to uphold the standards needed to maintain the City’s Purple Flag status.”