Winners: C’llr Achievement awards 2011

Over 100 of local government’s biggest and brightest, including Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP , met this evening in Westminster for the presentation of the C’llr Achievement Awards 2011.

These awards are an initiative we believe strongly in as they exist to find, highlight and celebrate the dedicated effort that councillors put in throughout the year to strengthen local democracy and help improve the lives of citizens. LGiU is therefore proud to support these awards alongside CCLA.

Without further ramble then from me, please find below a list of winners for the C’llr Achievement Awards 2011 and a statement from the judges defining their leading efforts. Our congratulations to all.

Live reports from the Awards presentations can be found through the #cllrawards hashtag on Twitter.

CCLA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Financial Performance

Winner: Cllr Maurice Hester, London Borough of Wandsworth

Cllr Heaster is described as the ‘driving force’ behind Wandsworth’s efficiency and value for money for the past 25 years. As the Chair of the budget review process for all council departments, Cllr Heaster ensures a rigorous process of challenge and always seeks to find different approaches to service delivery to drive through value for money. Foremost, Cllr Heaster has refused to ‘allow the council to lower its standards’ and his commitment to value for money had extended to all area of public life.

The judges noted the great personal involvement of Cllr Heaster in Wandsworth’s financial achievements – a council that sets a benchmark for taking forward value for money. Cllr Heaster has set this agenda seen it through over a long period of time. ‘He is a powerful figure in Wansdsworth and his control of money is absolute’.

Community Champion

Winner: Cllr Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council

Cllr Rahman has achieved a great deal since being elected – particularly in developing links with communities that have been on the margins in Manchester. He is described demonstrating an understanding of the different communities in the area in order to robustly represent their views to the council. His role in championing local communities led him to set up the Manchester Sports Academy, the Longsight International Festival and Neighbourhood day. He was also instrumental in opening up strategic decision making in the council by successfully pushing through a re-vamp of the Manchester Agenda Conference from an event which was designed for senior offices to one that involved and engaged the community throughout.

Cllr Rahman has successfully bridged the differences between generations – all with a grass-roots led perspective. It is this grass-roots approach mixed with his ability to work on strategic community cohesion work that has created a strong mechanism for him to hear the diverse voices in Manchester and act on them. The judges felt Cllr Rahman was a deserving winner because of the speed with which he has made a difference, but also due to his ability to see the bigger picture, but with a community base.

Young Councillor of the Year

Winner: Cllr Becky Brunskill, Durham County Council

Elected in 2008 at the age of 20, Cllr Brunskill become Durham’s youngest ever councillor. In her time as a councillor her achievements are vast; she has established a youth-run café and a litter picking group, she secured investment from Home Housing, campaigned for transport needs for primary school children, which also included a motion to full council. She regularly delivers a community newsletter highlighting her work in the local area, in addition to holding regular surgeries. Cllr Brunskill takes a hands-on approach and has been working with residents to install drop kerbs, plant trees and install bus stops.

The judges thought that this was an incredibly strong nomination and of all the entries, she really ‘jumped out’. Cllr Brunskill has accomplished such a large amount for such a young age and ‘all of this makes her a deserving winner’. She has successfully shown that the best way to improve communities is by doing and bringing people together to work as community activists. ‘Becky is a brilliant example of what a modern councillor can be’.

New Councillor of the Year

Winner: Cllr Sheila D’Souza, Westminster City Council

Since being elected in May 2010, Cllr D’Souza has brought dedication and passion to her work in championing the needs of her residents. She has had a particular impact in a short space of time in successfully resolving residents’ concerns about a local train station and also been appointed as lead member for health scrutiny. Cllr D’Souza has impressed officers and councillors with her enthusiasm and her approach to her role is seen as a real addition to the council. Her achievements so far include getting Network Rail to respond to residents’ concerns, campaigning for road re-surfacing, successfully taking up issues around parking enforcement and ensuring that scrutiny is more dynamic. Above all else, Cllr D’Souza has made a real difference to her local community.

Westminster is known for being a strong and well established authority and the Judges felt that to make such a huge impact in a short space of time in an authority like Westminster must be hard, so this represents an incredibly impressive achievement.

Online Councillor of the Year

Winner: Cllr James Barber, London Borough of Southwark

Highly Commended: Cllr Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire County Council

Cllr Barber’s use of online media demonstrates how councillors can engage citizens within their own space in order to make a difference in their communities. He has established a presence on a citizen-run neighbourhood website by engaging and responding positively to local people’s issues, providing information, giving responses from officers and inviting residents to submit their problems and questions to him. Cllr Barber has been cited as a pioneer in this field in research for London Councils; by offering his services in a citizen centred space.

Unlike other nominees in this category, judges really felt that Cllr Barber’s achievements stood out as being different because he has managed to assert himself on existing media that residents of his local area use – he has gone to them rather than expecting them to come to him. The judges noted that ‘if social media is about anything, it is about being where people are’ and this is an excellent example of this.

Partnership Achievement of the Year

Winner: Cllr Ray Franklin, East Devon District Council

As portfolio holder for Strategic Planning and Regeneration, Cllr Franklin has shown leadership in developing a series of major infrastructure projects in East Devon – projects which have brought together local authorities, private sector partners and regional agencies. Cllr Franklin has built strong relationships with these partners, which has led to planning permission for a number of projects and ensured that when new strategic urban extension projects were threatened by the recession he was able to build on strong public and private sector relationships to put together a financial package with partners to ensure that the project progressed.

As a small district, such achievements are not easy but judges felt that Cllr Franklin had made a significant impact and personally took the agenda forward for planning and regeneration. He successfully brought together a range of different partners – not just the public sector and also personally led negotiations with the private sector and developers to ensure that he secured funding to fill gaps. Judges commented that he was clearly more than ‘a figure-head chair’.

Scrutineer of the Year

Winner: Cllr Robert Parker, Lincolnshire County Council

Highly Commended: Cllr Imogen Walker, London Borough of Lambeth

Highly Commended: Cllr Elizabeth Rhodes, Wakefield Council

Cllr Parker has shown real leadership as chair of the value for money scrutiny committee, in what have been very testing times for Lincolnshire County Council. He has had many achievements during his time as chair (too many to list) but highlights include: taking the committee into the community on site visits, establishing best practice in performance reporting and working with officers to develop the council’s value for money model. He has also extended his impact beyond Lincolnshire by using his expertise in a peer support programme which has helped other councils to test whether they deliver value for money.

The judges noted that this was an extremely difficult category to judge, as scrutiny can be used in so many different ways, but Cllr Parker stood out as he championed scrutiny to drive through value for money. This is an area where scrutiny should have a real impact and Cllr Parker has demonstrated that he is fair, organised, shows real depth to his work and asserts his skills as an excellent scrutineer. He also has a clear passion for value for money and his personal interest and meticulous approach has ensured that scrutiny has achieved so much.

Sustainability Champion of the Year

Winner: Cllr Anthony Blagg, Worcestershire County Council

As a Member Sustainability Champion, Cllr Blagg has taken his role in championing sustainability extremely seriously; so-much-so that he has taken sustainability right up the agenda in the council. His achievements are vast and include leading the council’s successful bid for Beacon Status on tackling climate change, the introduction of an energy efficiency spend to save fund and progressing recycling and pushing for the 8% reduction on corporate CO2 emissions from 2007 to 2009. Cllr Blagg works with a wide range of people and organisations on this agenda in order to fully embed sustainability in the council’s processes and beyond.

Cllr Blagg is someone that has taken the sustainability ethos into his own life as well as championing the cause in the council – it is this passion and his achievements that particularly impressed the judges.

Leader of the Year

Winner: Cllr Graham Baxter, North East Derbyshire District Council

Highly Commended: Cllr Sean Brennan, London Borough of Sutton

Cllr Baxter is described as ‘visionary’. He is a leader who has a belief in open-government, community involvement and transformation and during his 6 years as leader has shown strength of character and determination to provide excellent services and that make a real difference to the lives of local citizens. Under his leadership the council went from ‘weak’ to ‘excellent’ in the CPA, has undergone a massive organisational transformation, achieved efficiencies equivalent to 20% of the budget and developed a new strategic vision for the area. Real evidence of Cllr Baxter’s contribution and leadership are also seen in the cultural transformation of the council; morale amongst staff is high and officer/member relationships are now close and mutually supportive.

This was a tough category to judge as the shortlist was exemplary and each council had a strong story to tell. However the judges felt that of all the nominees Cllr Baxter’s leadership has brought about evidence of real transformation to the council. ‘He has really stepped up to the role of being leader and brought clear vision to the council’. The judges also noted that district councils have particular challenges, such as less flexibility, powers and budget, which results in a difficult context to exercise leadership – this makes his achievements even more impressive.

Can we also take this opportunity to say a  big thank you to Cllr Colin Barrow, Leader of Westminster City Council, who helped facilitate the event and also our judging panel – a full list of which can be found below.

  • Cllr James Cousins London Borough of Wandsworth
  • Jessica Crowe, Chief Executive, Centre for Public Scrutiny
  • Cllr Yash Gupta Thurrock Borough Council, Winner ‘Community Champion of the Year 2010’
  • Cllr Martin Hill Lincolnshire County Council, Winner ‘Leader of the Year 2010’
  • Emma Maier, Editor LGC
  • Alan Pickstock, Editor C’llr Magazine
  • Jules Pipe, Elected Mayor, London Borough of Hackney
  • Cllr Jane Scott, Leader, Wiltshire County Council
  • Michael Quicke, Chief Executive, CCLA
  • Andy Sawford, Chief Executive, LGiU