Get involved: send your pictures, video, news and views by texting ECHONEWS to 80360, or email us »
Crowds enjoy music, dancing and fireworks to mark Southend's Purple Flag Award
SOUTHEND celebrated in style on Saturday night with fireworks, flames and festivities.
Hundreds flocked to the seafront for the event which marks the town’s recently-aquired Purple Flag status.
A Purple Flag is an award given to mark an area as somewhere to go for a good night out and Southend has become the first place in Essex to be recognised with the accolade.
Southend Town Centre Partnership, the town’s Night Time Economy Group and Southend Club Watch organised events on Marine Parade including a dazzling fire and light show, dance and music by samba band Brazilarte and a performance by indie band Winterhours.
Seafront pubs got into the spirit of the evening by decking out the front of their buildings with purple balloons.
At the end of the evening, families were treated to a fireworks show which saw the estuary explode with colour and a purple haze.
Antony Tomassi, of Tomassi’s restaurant in the High Street, said this was the culmination of two years hard work.
He said: “It is a marvellous accolade for the town and the start of many things to come.”
Dawn Jeakings, chairman of the Southend Town Centre Partnership and manager of the Royals Shopping Centre, added: “The perception of being safe was quite poor, hopefully this will change the perception.”
Clare and Jez Clark were out with their two children Eden, five, and Bodhi, one.
The couple, from Leigh, said they loved coming to the seafront and thought it had improved a lot.
Mrs Clark, 39, said: “We have lived here all our lives - we love it. The seafront is a lot safer, they have got police cabins here now. It has got more of a family feel rather than the old cruise night feel.
“There is lots for families to do, its a good evening out.”
Southend’s bid for Purple Flag status was launched by Southend Council in partnership with Essex Police.
The judges praised the town’s innovative town centre policing strategy, the ‘BOBB’ (Behave or Be Banned) scheme, which they said was “well enforced and respected” by the police and local businesses, the availability of fixed and portable toilets the SOS Bus and the town’s ‘Clubwatch’ scheme, where representatives of 35 town centre clubs, pubs and bars meet regularly with police.
The Purple Flag scheme was created by the Association of Town Centre Management.
Southend is one of 30 UK towns and cities which have been awarded Purple Flag status.