The Awards, hosted at Westminster City Council, have gone to the great and good of local government; those councillors who have gone the extra mile to improve their communities.
The Rt Hon Eric Pickles, MP praised the winners and personally gave the Bruce-Lockhart Member Scholarship.
In order of announcement:
Age UK Pride of Place Award
Winner: Cllr Olwen Foggin, Devon County Council
About Olwen: Cllr Foggin has consistently championed the interests of older residents in Devon since being elected to the county council in 2005. She has demonstrated a clear commitment to engaging with local groups and listening to the concerns of older people, before ensuring that these concerns inform the council’s decisions at every level.
The judges were particularly impressed with the concrete outcomes that Cllr Foggin achieved across these different levels of decision making. For instance, at the county level, Cllr Foggin used her training and experience as a psychiatric nurse to play a crucial role in Devon County Council’s strategic review of mental health services for older people. At the city level, Cllr Foggin successfully fought against changes in services that would have disproportionately disadvantaged older people, such as the closure of an important bus route to the local hospital. And at the local level, Cllr Foggin has shown a willingness to take personal ownership of problems raised by residents, and has an impressive track record of finding common-sense solutions.
Community Champion of the Year
Winner: Cllr Fiona Cross, Torfaen County Borough Council
Highly Commended: Cllr Bob Cope, South Staffordshire Council AND Cllr Zahida Abbas Noori, LB Ealing
About Fiona: Since being elected in 2008, Cllr Cross has shown real energy and enthusiasm on an impressive range of issues. Her personal passion and drive have led to a number of outcomes on issues as diverse as education, transport, child safety and the council’s environmental policy. Regarding the latter, due to a motion that Cllr Cross put to Torfaen County Borough Council, a paperless meeting system has been introduced, saving the council £20k per year, as well as 7,905 reams of paper.
The judges were particularly impressed with the number of personal relationships Cllr Cross has managed to forge across diverse sectors of her community, largely as a result of consistently impressing residents with her dedication to the issues that matter to them. For instance, Cllr Cross has gone beyond the call of duty in her role as a school governor at two local schools, by working to introduce safe walking-to-school routes, and taking a lead on scrutiny of the planning of a new local primary school.
CCLA Award for Outstanding Contribution to Financial Performance
Winner: Cllr David Malcolm Finch, Essex County Council
About David: Cllr Finch has achieved a great deal during his 10 years as an elected member of Essex County Council. Most notably, he has used his role as the Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation to ensure that value for money and better services are at the heart of the council’s spending decisions. By implementing a raft of new approaches he has ensured vast savings, such as the £300 million of efficiency improvements and back-office savings that will have been achieved by 2012/13.
The judges were not only impressed with the sheer scale of Cllr Finch’s achievements, and his clear strategic vision, but also by his inclusive approach to decision-making. By creating a local council group of finance members and officers, and by building strong relationships with local businesses, Cllr Finch has shown how strong ties across the council and wider community can provide a firm foundation for robust financial performance.
Scrutineer of the Year
Winner: Cllr Andy Hull, LB Islington
About Andy: As the Chair of Islington Council’s Communities Review Committee, Cllr Hull played a central role in establishing the Islington Fairness Commission. This group worked with hundreds of people across the community as well as voluntary sector organizations, businesses, politicians and partners to produce a report on how to improve quality of life in the borough by making it a fairer place for all who live and work there.
The judges were particularly impressed by the way in which the recommendations from the Islington Fairness Commission’s report have been fully integrated into every area of the council’s work, and led to a number of tangible outcomes. For instance, Islington Council has introduced the London Living Wage for all directly employed staff, and brought all cleaning staff back in-house so they can be paid the living wage. Similarly, the council reduced the pay of the new Chief Executive by £50,000 to reduce the gap between the highest and lowest paid staff in the council.
Partnership Achievement of the Year
Winner: Cllr Eunice Campbell, Nottingham City Council
About Eunice: Cllr Campbell has played a key role in strengthening pre-existing health partnerships in Nottingham, as well as forging new partnerships in areas such as childcare and crime and drugs. Since becoming the portfolio holder for Adult Services and Health in 2009, Cllr Campbell has driven the integration of health across council departments and into the services of wider partners.
The judges noted that health partnerships are amongst the hardest and most important partnerships for councils to forge and maintain and, as such, Cllr Campbell’s successful work in this area is all the more impressive. Whatsmore, Cllr Campbell has effectively led the integration of health into the wider strategic partnerships existing in Nottingham. Accordingly, Cllr Campbell’s work has left Nottingham County Council in a much stronger position to fulfil its new public health responsibilities.
Online Cllr of the Year
Winner: Cllr Alison Hernandez, Torbay Council
About Alison: In addition to maintaining a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Cllr Hernandez has used social media to promote local democracy and participation in local government. This was seen most clearly in her successful encouragement of more citizen-led journalism through community blogging sites. Cllr Hernandez has also worked tirelessly to engage local businesses and residents in full council debates through Facebook and Twitter; consequently, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of residents involved in these council meetings.
In addition to Cllr Hernandez’s ability to “create a buzz” around local politics, the judges liked the fact that she could point to concrete “real-world” outcomes from her use of social media. For example, a derelict area was transformed into an award-winning park due to the engagement of local residents in a Facebook group and online survey initiated by Cllr Hernandez.
Winner: Cllr John Stanton, Stroud District Council
Highly Commended: Jon Rogers, Bristol City Council
About John: As Stroud District Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Cllr Stanton has used his high level of technical expertise, stemming from his industry experience in the energy sector, to support the development and delivery of a number of projects. For instance, Cllr Stanton oversaw the installation of two 50Kw Solar PV arrays on council-owned sports centres, recognising that these locations were optimal in terms of the income received from feed-in tariffs, whilst also taking into account displaced imported energy. In a similar vein, Cllr Stanton led the development of an Anaerobic Digester at another large sports centre.
The judges were impressed by the scale of Cllr Stanton’s projects, and particularly fond of the way in which he has used his industry expertise to drive forward council initiatives. Cllr Stanton has consistently provided technically robust advice at council debates, and used his strong knowledge-base to draw out the environmental consequences of a wide range of council activities, thus ensuring that sustainability is always high on the council’s agenda.
Young Cllr of the Year
Winner: Cllr Tafheen Sharif, Luton Borough Council
About Tafheen: In her relatively short time on Luton Borough Council, Cllr Sharif has shown energy and dynamism on a number of local education issues. In addition to sitting as a governor on two school boards, she has visited every local school to engage with pupils and contribute to full school assemblies.
The judges were impressed with the long list out outcomes that Cllr Sharif has secured in the seven months since she was elected. In particular, as a representative of the poorest ward in Luton, Cllr Sharif has demonstrated courage and resilience in tackling difficult issues surrounding community safety. With key partners, she devised a plan to deter gangs from her local area; she organised a picnic in a local park to deter drug dealers and allow residents to claim it back; and, on a larger scale, Cllr Sharif also attended meetings with the Chief Superintendent and Chief Executive of Luton to help form the strategy that successfully prevented any rioting in Luton last summer. Overall, it is easy to see why she is described by members of her community as “very hardworking and determined to make a positive difference to the lives of the people she represents”.
Leader of the Year
Winner: Sir Richard Leese, Manchester City Council
About Sir Richard: Cllr Leese was described by the judges as “a titanic figure in local government”. Under his leadership, Manchester City Council has pioneered a raft of strategic approaches to regeneration, dictated by Cllr Leese’s long-term vision for the city. Just four weeks after took over as leader, the largest bomb ever detonated on the British mainland was set off by the IRA in Manchester City Centre, providing the city with a major rebuilding challenge but also the opportunity to accelerate regeneration. Cllr Leese resisted calls to get things “back to normal” as quickly as possible, and instead sold a wider vision of an improved city centre for Manchester. As a result, the City pioneered the development of strategic regeneration frameworks, making crucial links between economic, social and physical improvements.
For the judges, Cllr Leese stood out for the magnitude of his achievements, the sheer professionalism of his approach, and his strong record of working effectively with politicians from all parties, and representatives of all sections of the community. They were also particularly impressed with the leading role that Cllr Leese played in creating and maintaining the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities – the first group of authorities from a city-area to work together in a uniformed way on issues of common concern.
Judges’ Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Local Government
Winner: Cllr Joan Barton, Sheffield City Council
Highly commended: Cllr Godfrey Allanson (Scarborough Borough Council)
About Joan: Cllr Barton will be standing down in May, but her many achievements in 34 years as a Sheffield city councillor ensure that she will leave behind a strong legacy. Cllr Barton has held a number of high-level positions on the council and shown a clear passion for a number of specific issues. As Joint Deputy Chair of the Education Committee in the 1980s, Cllr Barton achieved an agreement to minimise school closures, in the face of declining rolls in the local area. In the early-1990s, Cllr Barton was a leading figure in Sheffield’s successful bid for the Student Olympics, ensuring a legacy of superb sporting facilities that the city will benefit from in the run-up to the Olympics.
The judges were particularly impressed with the balance that Cllr Barton has maintained between spearheading large-scale policy projects and devoting time and attention to residents in her ward. In addition to the achievements outlined above, Cllr Barton has worked very closely with several residents groups in her area, and as a result created an inclusive forum that continues to work towards regenerating her area of Sheffield.
Bruce Lockhart Member Scholarship
Winner: Cllr Shona Johnstone, Cambridgeshire County Council
About Shona: Since being elected in 1993, Cllr Johnstone has been central to a number of improvements in Cambridgeshire County Council’s transport infrastructure. In addition to her strong track record of innovating and delivering results, Cllr Johnstone impressed the judges with a cutting-edge project proposal, which clearly outlined how she will use the £10,000 scholarship to promote the case for localism.
Cllr Johnstone’s project will explore how localism can be delivered in new communities where the community does not yet exist. In the context of urban extension and new physical settlements being inevitable in the near future, she will investigate the extent to which these new communities can be a disproportionate drain on public sector resources and, therefore, how localism might better support the social development of these communities.