LGIU Ireland were pleased to judge and cover Chambers Ireland 2022 Excellence in Local Government Awards.
The Excellence in Local Government Awards showcase best practice in local government and recognise the skills, hard work, innovation and enthusiasm within local government that can often go unrecognised.
The 19th year running, this LGIU Ireland briefing shares the winners and instances of good practices from Irish local government.
Over the next few months, LGIU Ireland will share the individual stories of the award winning projects with in-depth case studies. In the meantime, we take a quick look at the the 15 winning projects and and the highly-coveted local authority of the year.
Supporting Sustainable Communities Award- Limerick City & County Council – New Build Incremental Purchase System
The New Build Incremental Purchase Scheme allows people to buy new-build A-rated starter homes at a discounted price. Limerick City and County Council piloted two new schemes at Newcastle West (19 homes) and Caherdavin, Limerick city (16 homes).
The Scheme is targeted at working households currently in private rented accommodation who may be on HAP, RAS or social leasing. A new build home can be purchased at 40 – 60% discount from the all-in construction price, depending on the income band of the applicant.
With an increasing number of valid “notice to quits” are issued by landlords as they exit the market, the Scheme offers a sustainable choice for a new build home, on day one as a private tenure-type.
Find out more about Limerick City & County Council’s winning project here.
Climate Change Award- Mayo County Council – Mayo Decarbonising Communities Network
Action 165 of the Government’s Climate Action Plan 2019, requires Local Authorities to identify and develop plans for one Decarbonising Zone.
With Local Authorities requested to choose a Decarbonising Zone in February 2021, Mayo County Council took the approach of inviting communities to apply to become Mayo’s first Decarbonising Zone. Communities attended workshops led by experts in various fields and ten communities, representing 30% of the population of Mayo, applied to become Mayo’s initial decarbonising zone.
Mulranny was chosen as the Decarbonising Zone, but the ten communities with the support of Mayo County Council, formed a network, to learn from, support and inspire each other to reduce their emissions by 50% by 2030.
These communities have presented their visions for their low carbon future to their Municipal Districts and have received funding from Mayo County Council to further their decarbonising initiatives. This has already opened doors to other funding streams and successful collaborations in the time since the programme was established.
Communications Award- Kildare County Council – Understanding Kildare’s County Development Plan
Kildare County Council scooped the first award for the new Communications category. The award seeks to recognise communications and marketing campaigns that support local authorities’ strategic objectives and provide a better understanding of the work and role of councils.
Kildare County Council award was in recognising of the “Understanding Kildare’s County Development Plan” communication campaign. Aiming to provide a better understanding of the County Development Plan (CDP), the communication process involved in its development began with the public consultation phase in March 2022, where citizens, communities and businesses were encouraged to have their say on the development of their County.
The Council worked with the Forward Planning team to undertake a coordinated communications campaign which included a podcast series, media engagement, a social media strategy, stakeholder engagement, and internal communications. The campaign explored many aspects of the CDP, what it is, what it’s not, how it informs the development of the County, and how Kildare people could have their say.
You can find “understanding Kildare’s County Development Plan” on Spotify here.
Health & Wellbeing Award- Waterford City & County Council – Ireland’s First Outdoor Learn to Cycle Track opens in Dungarvan
Ireland’s first outdoor Learn to Cycle track gives young children the opportunity to learn to cycle on a real life road structure with lines, signs and pedestrian crossing without the traffic.
Dungarvan is a ‘Smarter Travel’ town. This means that Waterford City and County Council uses a holistic approach, in that promoting the safe use of cycling teaches children life skills which long-term, can encourage the use of sustainable transport and reduce future over-dependence on cars.
Creating long-term wider benefits for the climate and the environment, the next phase of the development, a Performance Area, is at an advanced stage of construction and is due to be opened in 2022. When completed the recreation park will include a BMX Pump Track and Skatepark.
The overall cost of the cycle track was €50,000 with Waterford City and County Council receiving funding from the Local Government Fund and the Capital Grant Scheme for Play and Recreation administered by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.
Find out more about Ireland’s First Outdoor Learn to Cycle Track in Dungarvan here.
Supporting Tourism Award- Mayo County Council – Clew Bay Bike Trail
The Clew Bay Bike Trail is a new 105 km bike and ferry route looping magical Clew Bay, curving around the coastline, incorporating both Clare Island and Achill Island.
In conjunction with Destination Westport, Westport Chamber of Commerce and Mayo County Council, Cycle Friendly Clew Bay aims to establish Westport and the Clew Bay area as a world-class, affordable cycling destination aimed at both domestic and international tourists.
The trail primarily utilises the existing Great Western Greenway, along with a section of segregated cycle path and some sections of local road. The trail offers a new and different way to experience Clew Bay from every angle. New ferry sailings now connect segments of the trail on Clare Island and Achill Island.
With tourists now looking for healthier, more sustainable travel and exercise options, the hospitality sector in the Clew Bay region has the unique opportunity to adapt themselves to cater for the huge increase in cycling tourism. It is an industry which is worth €44 Billion to the European economy annually, and the cycling tourist spends 9% more than the average tourist.
Find out more from Mayo County Council here.
Diversity & Inclusion Award- Dublin City Council – Academy of the Near Future
Academy of the Near Future (ANF) is a smart cities education programme for students and local authority professionals developed by Smart Docklands, Dublin City Council (DCC) and CONNECT.
Using interactive workshops and hands-on activities, the programme brought citizens into the conversation about how technology shapes the places we live. During the academic year 21/22, ANF delivered workshops to over 1000 students nationally.
The workshops gave participants an understanding of technologies behind smart cities and how communities can engage with cities and local authorities on issues that matter.
The programme has a mission to reach underserved communities and areas with low educational attainment, ensuring at least 50% of workshop participants are female, and 50% are from DEIS schools to broaden their inclusion in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) outreach initiatives.
You can find out more from the Academy of the Near Future here.
Promoting Economic Development Award- Limerick City & County Council – Engine Hubs Network
Engine Hubs, the first collaborative cluster of business hubs spanning the Mid-West and North Kerry has been launched by Innovate Limerick. Engine Hubs provides a hybrid working infrastructure for remote workers and business owners, as well as full landing pad services to multinationals looking to set up or expand their operations in the region. CEO of Innovate Limerick, Mike Cantwell explains the rationale for the Engine Hubs: “How and where we work is changing and our goal in Innovate Limerick is to facilitate this change. Our members realise that there is more to life than a long commute and living somewhere they don’t enjoy. Engine Hubs will help people to create a better work-life balance, by providing high-quality co-working facilities in the Mid-West and North Kerry. We are challenging traditional urban-rural divides and offering flexible work locations in cities, towns, and villages.”
You can find more from Limerick City & County Council here.
Local Authority Innovation Award- South Dublin County Council – Think Big Space in partnership with AWS
The AWS Think Big Space is a new educational lab located beside the Tallaght Luas stop, which aims to inspire an interest in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.
A partnership between South Dublin County Council and Amazon Web Services, Think Big Space provides a dedicated space for students, educators and communities to explore innovative and imaginative ideas through interactive hands-on technical education.
The dedicated physical space aims to provide students, educators and the local community with access to resources for learning about cloud computing and technology. Students and learners will have access to technology, such as interactive screens, tablets and VR headsets to encourage a hands-on approach where students think big to solve real- world problems.
An AWS Think Big Space also gives adult learners opportunities to learn more about cloud computing technology, workforce development, internships and career programs, Data Technician Training, and AWS Cloud Certification.
Read South Dublin County Council’s summary here.
Sustainable Environment Award- Cork City Council – Cork City Council Air Quality Strategy
In August 2021, Cork City Council became the first local authority in Ireland to launch an Air Quality Strategy.
The strategy outlines the actions that Cork City Council will undertake between 2021 and 2026 to reduce the concentration of air pollutants in the city area; thereby positively impacting the health and quality of life of residents and visitors.
There are 69 actions set out to deliver the strategy and these have been separated into 7 themes, Health & Wellbeing, Air Quality Monitoring,Travel, Electric Vehicle & Charging Infrastructure, Regulation & Enforcement, Green Infrastructure, Research & Innovation.
This is an innovative and timely development for Cork City Council. The issue of air quality is becoming an important environmental factor in terms of environmental health and wellbeing.
To view the Cork City Council Air Quality Strategy click here.
Sustaining the Arts Award- Clare County Council – HOUSE! An open-air aerial spectacular
HOUSE! was a fun-filled spectacle with circus, theatre and drive-in bingo. This show was commissioned by Clare County Council in partnership with Galway County Council and Limerick City and County Council. Renowned international aerial dance company Fidget Feet were commissioned to develop an outdoor show, during COVID, which was suitable for anyone from 6 to 96.
The local authorities devised an opportunity whereby people could attend an outdoor event, while socially distant in their cars, could participate in the show, and where community groups were integrated in the performance in a safe but creative manner. Local groups performing included pipe band, local orchestras, hip – hop dancers, set dancers and cheerleaders.
You can find out more about HOUSE in this newsletter here.
Festival of the Year Award- Clare County Council – Ennis Mela
Ennis Mela was a new initiative by Clare Arts Office to encourage the performance and sharing by culturally diverse groups in the town of Ennis. Curated and produced by Fidget Feet, Aerial Dance Company, local musicians gathered with performers from Belfast Mela to put on a free day of activity, food, and fun.
The Mela featured performances from India, Nepal, Spain, South America, and Pakistan and was compered by Rapper WillZee from the travelling community.
The Market Building in Ennis was transformed with staging, backdrops and flags to host the open-air event which attracted large crowds and a very receptive audience.
Whilst groups had performed individually previously in the town for St. Patrick’s Day and Culture Night, this curated and professionally produced coming together has assisted in developing an impetus for the further development of the festival.
Find more about Ennis Mela here.
Initiative through the Municipal Districts Award- Carlow County Council – Ru:Rban – Urbact
Ru:Rban is an Urbact Project by Carlow Municipal District, delivered by a partnership between Carlow County Council Executive and elected members, businesses, community groups and NGOs working in the area of Community Gardens and Allotments.
The project builds upon the “Management Model of Urban Gardens in Rome”. The project is based on shared good practice across the project partners of Rome (Lead Partner: Italy) / Split (Croatia) / Alexandroupolis (Greece) / Algeciras (Spain) and Carlow Town (County Carlow). In order to complete this transfer of best practice, the geographically distant partners share experiences to enhance the capacities of each other’s local governance.
Transfer efforts are given to three distinct, interlinked, thematic components/elements that the good practice is divided into:
– Capacity building in organising urban gardens
– Inspiring and training people to manage urban gardens (Gardeners)
– Urban gardens governance and regulations.
You can find more background information here.
Enhancing the Urban Environment Award- Limerick City & County Council – Castletroy Urban Greenway
The Castletroy Urban Greenway is a high-quality, attractive, and accessible greenway in the heart of suburban Limerick connecting people’s homes with local schools, shops, playgrounds and amenities. It provides an enhanced pedestrian and cycling experience for residents, school children and commuters in the area.
The greenway, which opened in October 2021, consists of a 3.5m wide cycleway alongside a 2.5m wide footpath. It is enclosed by a grass verge and includes tree and shrub planting areas that add to the enjoyment of the local environment.
The main north-south spine extends to approximately 820m and provides connectivity between two schools and secondary spines link residential developments and local shopping centres.
Click here to read more from Limerick City & County Council.
Heritage and Built Environment Award- Donegal County Council – Single large-scale heritage-led urban regeneration project in Ramelton
Ramelton is one of the finest preserved historic towns in Ireland’s Northwest, but its historic fabric experienced significant decline in recent years. In response, a single large-scale urban regeneration project was designed, firmly based on the Ramelton Action Plan, Heritage-led actions. Fourteen historic buildings (eight highlighted as “At Risk”) located around the site of the Market Cross, were chosen to achieve the greatest transformative visual streetscape impact.
A Grade 1 Conservation Architect prepared a prioritised schedule of external repairs for each building including repairs to roofs; chimneys; rainwater goods; reinstatement of external lime renders where missing; repairing historic windows & new historically referenced pattern timber windows reinstated; repairing timber shopfronts; renewing missing shopfronts & painting using a palette of historical informed colours. This transformative regeneration project demonstrates the potential for positive streetscape impact through modest conservation & repair work at an urban scale to address regeneration inclusively, sustainably & cost-effectively.
You can read Donegal County Council’s full report here.
Age Friendly Initiative Award- Wexford County Council – Wexford Telehealth Project
Wexford County Council funded a partnership with Wexford General Hospital to undertake a telehealth pilot project in 2021 in cooperation with Tunstall Emergency Response, Age Friendly Ireland and the HSE.
Telehealth involves the use of technology to support healthcare remotely allowing older people to self-manage their health conditions within their own homes. The project provided a telehealth service with remote clinical triage to 50 older patients with chronic illnesses including Chronic Heart Failure, Diabetes and COPD.
Equipment was provided to these patients for a 12-week period resulting in a reduction in unnecessary appointments, reducing time spent in waiting rooms and travelling. It helped people manage their conditions and clinical oversight gave them the confidence needed to exercise more.
Click here to find an evaluative report on Wexford’s telehealth pilot project.
Local Authority of the Year- Clare County Council
The crowning award at Chambers Ireland, this year Clare County Council scooped the award for showing
“engagement across the different facets of the Clare Community, and with the development and sustainability of its localities and environment, to achieve this accolade.”
Ian Talbot, Chief Executive, Chambers Ireland further commended Clare County Council
“For their commitment to serving their community and also raising their area’s profile nationally as a stand-out destination, Clare County Council deserve to be commended and have earned their Award title of Local Authority of the Year.”
Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council, said:
“As a progressive local authority our purpose and vision is to be responsive and agile while leading the development of our county.”
Councillor Tony O’Brien, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, said:
“Winning the best Local Authority in Ireland in 2022 is an acknowledgement of the commitment and hard work of the staff and elected members of Clare County Council, who work in partnership to serve the people of Clare. Being named Local Authority of the Year is a real honour. I would like to commend everyone involved in achieving this prestigious award.”
The LGIU Ireland wishes to congratulate all the winners and short-listed projects, with a special mention to Clare County Council as the Local Authority of the Year.
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