ST Helens Council will apply for ‘Purple Flag’ status to help boost the night-time economy.

The Purple Flag standard is an accreditation process that allows members of the public to quickly identify town and city centres that offer an “entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable” night out.

Roy Benyon, council’s head of place and delivery, told the safer communities overview and scrutiny panel that the authority intends to apply for the coveted Purple Flag status as early as January 2019.

“The aim is to demonstrate excellence in managing the night-time economy,” Mr Benyon said.

“It allows members of the public to quickly identify towns and cities offering an entertaining, diverse, safe and enjoyable night out.

“We have work to do in St Helens and I’ll just reemphasise that.

“I think we all know that like many towns we have suffered but we need to make sure we can raise aspirations and that’s why we want to cast this aspiration at the early stage.

“We’ve a lot of work to do on raising ambitions but Purple Flag will give us that ability to raise the bar.”

Mr Benyon, who is also the chairman of the St Helens town centre Joint Agency Group (JAG), said a key challenge for the partnership is to “change perceptions” of the town centre.

He said: “That is a real challenge for us all in terms of what people think of the town centre, what they feel about the town centre, both as a resident and as a business.

“That is a key aspect for us.

“The Purple Flag is proven to be a catalyst for better partnerships with business and provides the intelligence required to make improvements.”

Earlestown councillor David Banks asked whether there were plans to apply for Purple Flag status in other areas in the borough.

Mr Benyon replied: “There is plans in terms of the work to the other town centres as well, that’s certainly a remit of the portfolio in terms of looking at the other town centres within St Helens.

“It is going to be a key challenge to get Purple Flag for just the main town centre.

“Certainly, once we’ve done that and we know what we need to do then we can stretch that out.”