Reading has achieved the prestigious Purple Flag status for the third year running for its evening and night-time economy in the town.

The town and city centre award, similar to the Blue Flag for beaches, aims to raise the standard and broaden the appeal of towns and cities between the hours of 5pm and 5am.

Areas awarded the Purple Flag are recognised for providing a vibrant and diverse mix of dining, entertainment and culture while promoting the safety and wellbeing of visitors and residents.

The submission for Purple Flag status was led by Reading Central Business Improvement District (BID) and was followed up by a 12 hour, all-night visit by an inspection team in the run up to Christmas.

The inspection looked at early evening activities including cafes and shopping provision and dining; leisure activities including gyms, cinemas, theatres and gaming events, pubs, First Stop services, street pastors, police and security briefings, access and egress options, late night venues and dispersal.

Bobby Lonergan, Reading BID Mmanager, said: "Reading town centre’s night-time businesses play an important role in Reading’s economic success.

"Obtaining Purple Flag accreditation for the excellence of the management of these businesses and the surrounding town centre environment has been a key objective for the current Business Improvement District and I am delighted that Reading’s night-time economy has been recognised as a vibrant, safe, welcoming and well-managed place."

Purple Flag accredited areas have all reported a consistent increase in footfall and a decrease in crime.

The Purple Flag programme is managed by the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), which works alongside a partnership of key stakeholder groups backed by Government, police and businesses, as well as the UK sponsors Diageo Great Britain.

Councillor Tony Page, deputy leader at Reading Borough Council, said: "Reading is one of more than 70 towns and cities across the UK and Ireland who are proudly flying the Purple Flag after working hard to gain accreditation.

"This deserved award is not just about safety, but also the vibrancy and diversity of our evening and night-time offer.

"Reading can be justifiably proud to have earned this award again, achieved by people working closely together, and I congratulate everyone involved."

A renewal proposal for Reading Central BID 2019-24 is currently being voted on by town centre businesses.