Best Bar None scheme to relaunch and celebrate top city venues
Bars and pubs across the breadth of the city will again be rewarded for creating a safe and vibrant night-time atmosphere as the Best Bar None initiative is relaunched next month.
Pioneered in Manchester in 2004, more than 50 Best Bar None schemes were active in the UK including Norwich, before funding dried up for the local project.
Now, 18 months after ceasing activities, a new team is breathing life back into the idea, and hope to bring a more positive approach.
The pilot sought to make bars and clubs on Prince of Wales Road safer and help them excel at their licensing objectives, but the new team want to reward best practice alongside keeping customers safe.
Glenn Hoy, organiser of Best Bar None, said the project was 'technically still live but it has been dormant.'
'We have been thinking of ways to reinvigorate the scheme,' he added. 'It slumped down a bit because it was fundamentally a scheme about safety and security, and was very Prince of Wales Road centric.
'What we have been thinking about, alongside Norwich BID, is to make the scheme something of a broader church. We have an operations management team who meet next week, and will be discussing some of the finer details.'
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With the former steering group was made up of representatives from Norfolk Police, Norfolk Fire Service, the NHS, and Norwich BID, the new team is looking to bring in similar experience with the help of former chief inspector Gavin Tempest.
'They have to have an independent assessment, which is Home Office certified, and an award accreditation,' added Mr Hoy.
'It is to show there are venues in Norwich that do care about the businesses they are running and want to prove how good they are.
'For many years the only publicity many places on Prince of Wales Road would get was negative, and that is how we were put together – to change that. 'It is a not for profit scheme so it doesn't cost much to run. The first time around we were reliant on funding from people like the NHS and the police, which eventually dried up. Now we are looking at other ways to make money.
'The scheme was deliberately quite narrowly focused, and the way Norwich is growing we want to send out some positive messages.'
Pubs which specialise in ale, craft beer or spirits will also have the opportunity to win best in category awards after their assessments.
'While we challenge them to be a good establishment, we do not threaten them if they do not pass,' said Mr Hoy. 'We are helping them create action plans.
'One new aspect we will be introducing are awards, so they do not just get a pass mark – they could be the best pub or bar in a certain category. That is important and helps bring in a degree of competition.
'We had 19 venues signed up at the end of the last scheme, and our intention is to re-engage with all of those from September onwards, and at the same time make our accreditation process available to more people.'