Making York a friendly and safe place at night – that’s the aim of Purple Flag scheme

York at night. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr

Everyone needs to work together to make night-time York a friendly and safe place.

That’s the message from City of York Council leader Keith Aspden after he approved a plan for the city to work towards Purple Flag status on Wednesday (19 September).

Cllr Keith Aspden said there different groups of visitors and residents want different things from the city centre and that can cause tension.


Many residents, businesses and visitors have been dismayed by the level of drunken rowdiness in York on some nights.

The Purple Flag scheme “recognises excellence in the management of city centres at night”.

Cllr Aspden said working towards this goal means organisations such as the police, tourist bosses and business groups can work together to make York a more friendly place.

More toilets

A new member of staff will be appointed to coordinate York’s Purple Flag efforts.

Priorities could include improving accessibility – both for vulnerable people and through public transport – and looking at whether there are enough toilets for people to use on nights out.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Aspden said: “There’s no doubt that one of the issues in our city centre is that there are conflicting needs and demands from different groups, which includes hen and stag dos.

“But no one agency like the council is going to solve that. So this is about working positively together.”

“It’s about making York a more friendly place to go.”

Right messages

Cllr Aspden at York council’s West Offices HQ
He said Purple Flag status is “going to be quite a broad look at how we can make the city centre a better place”, adding:

  • I think those competing needs and groups do cause tension.

    I think what we need to look at is how can we make sure our city centre is sending out the right messages in terms of what we want people to go there to do and what people want their city centre to be.

    I personally think that unless we start with something like Purple Flag accreditation to aim for, it’s very hard to make those improvements.