Coronation Street actress Beverley Callard has officially launched Manchester’s Best Bar None awards, which for this year includes an LGBT category for the first time.

Ms Callard, who plays Liz McDonald in the popular soap, encouraged responsible venues to get involved with the initiative, that rewards well managed venues who take their customers’ safety seriously.

“The Best Bar None awards are a fantastic example of the police working together with the alcohol industry and the local authority to fight the problems caused by binge-drinking and alcohol fuelled crime”, said PC Paul Acton, from City Safe. “We have a range of initiatives in Manchester to further reduce alcohol-related crime and disorder and by licensees operating in such a responsible way, the Best Bar None Awards have undoubtedly contributed to a fall in incidents.”

The Best Bar None Awards were introduced in 2003 by Greater Manchester Police’s City Safe unit to recognise licensed premises that provide good management, a safe and enjoyable environment, discourage binge drinking and prevent alcohol-related crime. This year, a new LGBT category is being introduced to recognise and reward the safest gay venues in Manchester.

“It’s great that the Manchester Best Bar None Award Scheme is including a LGBT category and following Brighton’s lead to include this category,” said Jamie Hakim from 3SIXTY Magazine, which sponsored the Best Bar None awards in Brighton this year.

All applicants fall into three categories: pubs, bars or clubs, and each of the premises will be judged on a number of criteria, including their door policy, crime prevention strategy, emergency procedures and drink and drugs policies.

Police officers from the City Safe team, staff from Manchester City Council and Manchester City Centre Management Company will inspect all of the applicants’ outlets. Their findings will then be put before a panel of local judges, including representatives from GMP, the local authority, the licensing trade and Budweiser who sponsor the event.

Every entrant that meets the minimum standard of safety set by the police and council will receive accreditation, meaning that they can then use the official Manchester Best Bar None logo on their own promotional advertising, to let members of the public know their venue is working hard to keep its customers even safer.

An awards ceremony will take place on 26 November 2006 at The Hilton Hotel on Deansgate, where the names of the accredited venues will be announced, as well as the category winners and overall winner.