Aberdeen has been recognised for its safe city centre – for the eighth year in a row.
The city centre was once one of the worst crime spots in Scotland due to drunken revellers, antisocial behaviour and shoplifters but over the last decade, police, business groups and council chiefs have worked hard to erase that reputation.
But now, for the eighth consecutive year, Aberdeen has been awarded the purple flag in recognition of the management of the city’s night-time economy and the safety and wellbeing of residents and visitors.
The scheme is similar to the blue flag for beaches, and considers the well-being, movement, appeal and sense of a city centre at night.
Retailers and hospitality praised for resilience
Aberdeen was the first city in Scotland to be awarded the accreditation in 2014 and has been held up as an example UK-wide since.
Judges were this year impressed with the city’s business resilience and Covid recovery strategy, which they cited as a “great example of best practice through very different and difficult times.”
Examples included the Aberdeen Christmas Market, which attracted 25,000 people to the Bon Accord Centre and the completion of the first phase of the masterplan.
The panel also praised the way the hospitality sector came together to restore confidence, pointing to the formation of Aberdeen Hospitality Together.
The group, which has more than 130 businesses on board, created a 10-step assurance scheme, which established rules around crowd control, distancing and opening times.
Aberdeen Inspired, the police, street pastors, NHS and the drugs action group were also praised for their “tireless” work to support the city centre through the pandemic.
Judges praise ‘exemplar’ partnerships
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The awarding of the purple flag for the eighth year in a row is testament to the combined efforts of all the partners, including Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Hospitality Together, to support our city centre. We were heartened to see this strong partnership approach recognised by the judges as an exemplar.
“We hope the purple flag accreditation will help to reassure consumers and encourage them back into our cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and leisure facilities once restrictions are eased.”
Stuart McPhee, chairman of Aberdeen Hospitality Together and director of Siberia Bar and Hotel on Belmont Street, added: “Partnership working was one of the ways that we as a city and a sector got back on our feet again when we were locked down locally in August 2020. It’s great to see these achievements recognised and this accreditation of this renewal will showcase that we in Aberdeen have set a great example of how industries, local partners and stakeholders can work together.”
Hopes people will return to enjoy Aberdeen’s ‘great nightlife’
Ojay McDonald, chief executive of the Association of Town and City Management, praised Aberdeen for its achievements, saying the city is emerging as a “visitor destination with an exciting urban arts and culture scene.”
“Not only does Aberdeen meet the basic purple flag standards of harnessing excellent partnership working around safety and wellbeing, but it has gone beyond this to develop a modern city with great nightlife,” he said.
Councillor Marie Boulton, who is leading the city centre masterplan project, said the recognition was a “real testament” to the work being done to drive forward the economy – from developing attractions to working with night-time venues.
Chief Inspector David Paterson, who covers the city centre, added: “The past year has been different and challenging and just like all other organisations and businesses, our policing resources have had to adapt to the Covid-19 restrictions. This achievement – for the eighth consecutive year – is testament to the strong partnership working in place, which will be critical moving forward.”