L-R: Carol Feenan (Best Bar None manager) and Paul Martin (licensee of the Fighting Cocks pub)
An awards scheme which aims to raise the bar in Durham City pubs and clubs has been named ‘best bar none’ – nationally.
Best Bar None is a national awards programme operating in 34 towns and cities which aims to promote the responsible management and operation of licensed premises.
Its Durham City version has now landed a national prize - being named the best overall scheme in the country for 2016.
The scheme, which is delivered by Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary, was named Best Bar None Best Overall Scheme at a ceremony at the House of Lords in London on Tuesday.
It beat off competition from last year’s winner Sheffield, and Bedfordshire to take the title.
The success follows Durham being shortlisted for Best Overall Scheme in 2015.
Project manager Carol Feenan also won the National Outstanding Recognition Award that year while Durham was crowned the Most Innovative Scheme in the UK in 2009.
Cllr Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “We are both proud and delighted to have won this prestigious national award.
“Our Best Bar None programme has involved excellent partnership working to make socialising in Durham City’s pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs a safe and enjoyable experience
“Having been shortlisted for the top prize in 2015, it is particularly gratifying to go one better and win.”
Durham Constabulary’s assistant chief constable Dave Orford said: “I am delighted the Best Bar None scheme has received the national recognition it deserves.
“It’s a scheme the force has been involved in for a number of years and a great example of partnership working between the police, other agencies and licensees.
“Picking up the award is a huge pat on the back particularly for all of the licensees involved, who I know work hard to make sure Durham is a safe and enjoyable place for a night out.”
The Durham scheme, which has operated every year since 2008, sees licensed premises sign up to undergo assessments as well as ‘mystery shopper’ visits.
Best Bar None accreditation is given out to establishments which meet set criteria while awards are given to those premises which score the most points in the assessments and mystery shopper visits.
In 2016, accreditation was given to 34 of the 37 premises which applied and 12 awards given out to category winners and runners up at a ceremony at Ramside Hall in November.
Best Bar None licensees reported an almost 20 per cent increase in profits during 2016.
Last year’s figures for violence against the person in Durham were also nearly ten per cent lower than in the 12 months before Best Bar None began operating in the city.
Mick McDonnell, national Best Bar None coordinator, said: “Best Bar None in Durham has always shown what true partnership working can achieve.
“With everyone working together over the last nine years Durham’s evening and night-time economy has become safer, more vibrant and more profitable.
“The Durham scheme in the past has rightly received national recognition for its ground breaking achievements in terms of alcohol related crime reduction, and we at a national level encourage new schemes to look at the ‘Durham model’ to ensure sustainability and success.
“With fantastic support from the police and the council, and a willingness from the trade to continually improve the experience of Durham’s night-time economy, Best Bar None in Durham is set to achieve bigger and better things. Well done, and thank you to all involved.”
Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, said: “The Best Bar None programme has grown from strength to strength over the years, and I am delighted that it has received national recognition.
“My congratulations go to everyone involved in improving the night-time economy here in Durham, and for the work they do to help people stay safe.”
Posted on Thursday 2nd February 2017