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County town views the night through purple-tinted glasses

Ennis is the first town in the country to receive the prestigious international Purple Flag award and a conference earlier this week heard how successful city and town centres can be managed with a focus on the evening time.

Ennis is the first town in the country to receive the prestigious international Purple Flag award and a conference earlier this week heard how successful city and town centres can be managed with a focus on the evening time.
Representing Ennis at the conference were Clare County Council Director of Services Ger Dollard, CEO of Ennis Chamber Rita McInerney, Shannon Development’s Siobhán King, chairperson of Municipal Policy Committee Councillor Johnny Flynn, Ennis Town Council’s Catherine O’Hara and consultant to Promote Ennis, Carmen Cronin.
The line-up of speakers included John Twomey, Assistant Garda Commissioner; Kiela Brodigan, manager of Visit Dublin Fáilte Ireland; Councillor Johnny Flynn chair of Ennis Municipal Policy Committee; Jim Roddy, Derry/Londonderry city centre manager and Martin Blackwell, CEO of UK Association of Town and City Management.
The key message coming from all speakers was one of partnership and results through combined efforts. It was highlighted with one voice that the path to Purple Flag accreditation, which starts with the formation of a strong working group from all stakeholders, is an ideal framework.
In his role as chair of Ennis’ Municipal Policy Committee, Councillor Johnny Flynn was invited to talk about expected social, economic and environmental benefits from Ennis Town working together to achieve and maintain Purple Flag.
He emphasised the huge advantage of a unified approach. “The key to Ennis’ success in achieving Purple Flag was that all stakeholders worked together using the Promote Ennis vehicle, supported by an internal and an external coordinator. We will be delighted to share our experience with other towns and cities who are aiming for the same rewarding experience.
“I believe that Purple Flag is only the beginning of a journey for Ennis and, of course, this is coming at exactly the right time and will give us the opportunity to face the abolition of town councils in 2014 from a strong unified position.
“We now need to think about resourcing our new structures properly to make them effective using a vehicle like a Business Improvement District. I know that DublinBID will be there to support us in this venture,” he said.
The conference itself attracted great interest with close on 100 registered participants. Siobhán King from Shannon Development said Ennis can be very proud of its recent achievements amongst which was the Failte Ireland acknowledgement within the top ten tourist towns of Ireland.
“The evening and night time economy is a huge asset to Ennis and it was outlined in today’s conference that Purple Flag will strengthen this, retain jobs in the evening and night-time economy and attract business and tourism to certified towns.
“Our work in the Purple Flag Working Group is now in promoting the flag award and using it to its fullest potential,” she outlined.
This message was confirmed by Martin Blackwell, CEO of UK Association of Town and City Management, who outlined that the three main phases of Purple Flag for town and city centres were getting the offer right, maintaining and managing the town and marketing and promoting the offer and the achievements including the Purple Flag award.
The Purple Flag Working Group is meeting again next week to set out a clear strategy on the promotion of the award.

 

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