A nightlife safety scheme will be piloted in Wigan town centre over the Christmas period to keep partygoers safe and to ease pressure on front-line emergency services.
Wigan Council, in joint partnership with St John Ambulance, Greater Manchester Police, GMCA and Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor, Sacha Lord, will launch the Safe Haven scheme on Saturday 16 November.
The Haven will be operational every Saturday throughout the Christmas period between 10pm and 4am, depending on reveller turnout, and will be located on College Avenue.
The service will cover the King Street and Wallgate area and will provide free low-level medical attention and a place to go if partygoers lose their friends or need to charge their phones.
The trial will end on Sunday 22 December, but an extra Haven will be in situ to cover the annual Boxing Day events on Thursday 26 December – Wigan’s most popular night out.
It will be staffed by four first aiders, a healthcare professional such as a paramedic and two ambulance crew.
Sonia Halliwell, director for customer transformation at Wigan Council said: “In line with our long-term vision for a prosperous town centre, we are looking at a variety of options available to create a safe, diverse night-time offer that is attractive to both visitors and employers.
“The safety and wellbeing of those enjoying the town centre in the evening is a key part of reaching our ambitions.”
The pilot comes after Sacha Lord visited the town centre on a Saturday night in October.
He expressed how he wanted to work with the council so the town can strive to be awarded ‘Purple Flag’ status – a nationally recognised award acknowledging the diverse and safe offer provided by the country’s towns and cities.
He said: “When I came to Wigan for my first Saturday night walk-about, many people turned up – including the council’s chief executive.
“This positive turn-out demonstrates the passion and pride that Wigan is famous for.
“The town centre felt vibrant and inclusive with a number of independent restaurants and bars. The bus station was both new and modern and very accessible for those with special needs.
“I also saw the council’s very impressive CCTV suite. The system covers the whole town and is the best I’ve seen.
“This is Wigan’s time to shine. It is one of the most impressive borough’s I’ve seen across Greater Manchester. The future plans for the regeneration of the town centre and Wigan Pier are very exciting and I look forward working with the council and partners to further develop the town centre’s night-time offer.”
Sacha Lord hopes to roll out the Safe Haven scheme in all town centres throughout Greater Manchester. It is already an initiative adopted in Manchester City Centre and Wigan Borough is the first area outside of the City to trial this scheme.
Ms Halliwell added: “The Safe Haven scheme is one that is proving successful in other areas in Greater Manchester. We are inspired that Sacha Lord acknowledges the potential our town centre has and is working with us to achieve national recognition.”
The Safe Haven scheme is part of the council’s wider plan to regenerate Wigan town centre. The local authority is now seeking shoppers, visitors and residents’ views on the plans. To fill in the survey online, visit www.wigan.gov.uk/consultations.