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Mullingar Awarded Purple Flag – Evening and Night-Time Award

Published: 12th February 2015

The first ATCM Purple Flag Awards ceremony held in Ireland took place Drury Buildings in Dublin on Tuesday, 10th February saw the number of Purple Flag holders in Ireland rise to a total of 10 adding to the strong uptake of the programme in the UK with a total of over 50

flags now having been awarded. The ceremony was hosted by Dublin Town and Galway, Mullingar, Sligo, Waterford and Westport were awarded their flags joining the existing 5 flag holders Dublin Creative Quarter and Dame District, Ennis, Bray, Killarney and Ballina. The evening was supported by the Purple Flag Ireland Advisory Group chaired by Richard Guiney and also by the UK Purple Flag panel. The ceremony saw also 5 UK towns and cities being awarded and renewing their Purple Flag including Bury, Hull, Swansea, Southend and Salisbury and was joined also by two Swedish representatives.

ATCM’s Evening and night time economy programme manager Jonny Birkett said: “Purple Flag is the highest award for a vibrant and safe evening and night time economy in Europe offering successful towns and cities a way to recognise, promote and further develop the evening and night-time economy, making places more attractive and vibrant for both locals and visitors alike. “ He continued by saying “With Purple Flag only having been launched in Ireland 2 years ago, already a major milestone has been reached with now 10 Purple Flags having been awarded in the Republic. This puts Ireland firmly on the map in terms of excellence in the evening and night-time. Speaking on behalf of the decision making panel, I am delighted to say that all Irish applications have impressed the judges both in terms of quality of the night-time offering as well in the partnership of the towns and cities that applied.”

The new awardees went through a rigorous Purple Flag Academy All towns passed the 30 criteria of the accreditation procedure with commendations. Passing the minimum thresholds of decreasing crime statistics, appropriate transport, a vibrant appeal, a stimulating destination and a strong partnership, Mullingar was commended separately in the following areas:

The greatest strength of this bid was the dedication and enthusiasm of the team. There was a high level of engagement with businesses in the town. Everybody the assessors spoke to seemed to be aware of the bid. Many businesses displayed Purple Flag window stickers supplied by the local paper. The quality of the reception and welcome for the assessors was outstanding Purple Flag requires annual renewal. Therefore continued innovation is a must. The towns that retain their Purple Flag will be those that continually strive to improve their evening and night time experiences.

Brigid Manley, Director of Sales & Marketing for Mullingar Park Hotel & Mullingar Chamber Executive has commented that Mullingar are delighted to be included in the first 10 town’s in Ireland to be accredited with the prestigious international Purple Flag award proving Mullingar ‘s claim to be one of the best town’s in Ireland. It is a huge honor and credit to the town, the people of Mullingar and to the dynamic working group we had all through the process – a collaboration incorporating the Mullingar’ business community, Westmeath County Council, Mullingar Chamber of Commerce, Mullingar Town Team and most importantly of all Mullingar Gardai.

Visitors to the town can enjoy a vibrant, appealing, well-managed and safe evening and night-time economy. This distinguished accreditation brings with it increased tourism potential for Mullingar and ranks Mullingar among just 50 towns internationally who are proudly flying Purple Flag The accolade has already been given to places like London’s Covent Garden, Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and Liverpool’s City Centre & Oxford in the United Kingdom So if you are looking for something to do tonight? Mullingar Town has been officially stamped with a Purple Flag. This means that this area has been recognized as an ‘area of excellence, especially in the evening economy’ – making it the ideal place to explore possibilities……as a place to go ‘for a better night out’ Enjoy……

Mark Brindley, Mullingar Chamber Executive Member who was instrumental with Brigid Manley (also Chamber Executive) in putting the bid together was asked by the press, what is the next step for Mullingar now it has gone purple? In responding he said:
“I would like to think that our first priority is to maintain the Purple Flag status in perpetuity. We will shortly be receiving feedback from the ATCM (Association of Town & City Managers) as to areas of concern, room for improvement as well as where we currently score well. The idea being that we uphold the high standards that we have attained and improve the quality of the evening offer where we can and setting ourselves annual achievable targets.

It is also important from my own perspective and I think I can speak for the Chamber and the Mullingar Town Team on this is that in most district or town authorities be it principally in the UK there is a singular strategic managerial role which would look after specific initiatives such as Purple Flag, Environmental Improvements, Events Management and co-ordination of Chamber, Town Team individual businesses and Local Authority expertise and it is incorporated under a Town Centre Management (Manager) role.
Sometimes these very important individuals with excellent interpersonal and promotional skills work closely with or come from within the local authority, or can be from the private sector, can be match funded by business and eventually becoming self-sufficient in sourcing funding opportunities from funding sources. The type of person, the structure which we set up for the person and the role we see them performing is something that we are going to enlist the help of the ATCM and I see this as the singular most important part of upholding the Purple Flag status and continually striving for improvements in a partnership approach between business, stakeholders and the local authority.

We have been fortunate to have benefitted from a very good working relationship with all parties and individuals concerned and long may it last.”

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