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Bid for flag to say Chippenham's alive after five
Chippenham is aspiring to gain Purple Flag status, the indicator of where to go for a good night out.
The accreditation, which recognises excellence in the management of town and city centres at night, is held by the likes of Manchester, Bristol and Liverpool.
Mark Rippon, Wiltshire Council’s community safety officer for north Wiltshire, said: “It’s like the blue flag for beaches.
“It’s to show that Chippenham is alive after five, that your town is a good, safe place to come for a night out from 5pm to 5am.
“A lot of people say they’re frightened to come into Chippenham. It is a perception; we’ve got to allay their fears.”
To qualify, Chippenham would have to pass a night- time assessment, which looks for stimulating destinations, clean streets, secure car parks, good transport links, and provision for everyone including the young, disabled people and ethnic groups.
Mr Rippon, speaking to councillors and police during a meeting at Neeld Hall yesterday, said possible advantages would include raising the town’s profile, more money being spent and a reduction in crime.
He said as a result of achieving purple flag status, Oxford saw a 22 per cent fall in crime over three months at the start of 2010.
Wiltshire councillor Peter Hutton, who holds the portfolio for public protection, said: “The first reaction is that we haven’t got much in Chippenham, but when you actually list what we’ve got, we’ve got quite a lot.
“The real beauty of this scheme is that it’s aspirational. So even though we haven’t got it today, we are going to aspire to get it.”
Sue Wilthew, chief executive of Chippenham Town Council, said: “We are not a Bath or a Liverpool and some might ask, have we really got a chance at this, but the latest [purple flag] has been given to a village, Stockton Heath.”
The Cheshire village has a population little more than 6,000.
Mrs Wilthew said: “The vision is now moving away from cities to towns like us, so we’re not out of step, we’re not trying to punch above our weight.”
Among Chippenham’s current night-time assets are the Pubwatch scheme, street pastors and a wide variety of takeaways.
Mr Rippon said more venues and an enhancement of cafés with outdoor space was needed, but it was positive that the development of Langley Park, Bath Road and Chippenham Community Campus were in the pipeline.
Chippenham area board has promised £1,800 to fund the application, hoped to be submitted this time next year.
Kelly Fry, Wiltshire Council’s community safety officer for south Wiltshire, where Salisbury achieved purple flag status a year ago, said: “We found it’s quite crucial to work on the 5pm-8pm gap, so people don’t leave town after the shops shut.”
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