On Tuesday evening (Bonfire Night) we hosted the tenth annual Cllr Achievement Awards, the only awards to celebrate the achievements of elected councillors.
We were pleased to welcome so many councillors and friends of local government from across the country to hear inspiring stories of hard work and passion paying off for the benefit of local communities across the country.
LGiU Chair Cllr Michael Payne and Mark Davies from CCLA welcomed guests. Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGiU, then presented the awards.
Winner: Cllr Raushan Ara – Thanet District Council
Cllr Ara is known throughout her borough for her tireless efforts to start community projects – including charity fundraising events, litter picks and feeding underprivileged kids during the summer holidays – and her ability to bring together people from all walks of life. In particular Cllr Ara has been working to help the homeless in her community, volunteering at the shelter, organising Christmas lunches, and supporting the Winter Shelter which provides clothing and food.
Judges were really impressed by Cllr Ara’s ‘incredible social conscience’, demonstrated by the fact that she was nominated by several residents who have directly benefited from her efforts. Judges also noted the breadth of work she has undertaken, from helping the homeless to campaigning for vulnerable people, thinking outside the box and leveraging her position in the council to promote worthwhile projects.
Special mention: Cllr Jacky Smith – South Kesteven District Council
Noted for being community-focused, judges acknowledged Cllr Smith’s important efforts breaking down barriers within the district, by integrating the Portuguese society in further into Grantham life with the festival celebrating Portuguese culture. She has also built far-reaching networks with higher education bodies, to attract more of Grantham’s community into education and training.
Finance and Economic Development
Winner: Cllr Mete Coban – London Borough of Hackney
As Hackney’s youngest ever elected councillor, Cllr Coban has wasted no time becoming chair of the council’s Skills, Economy and Growth Commission which has developed a wide-reaching inclusive economy strategy for the borough. The strategy aims to improve job and training opportunities for Hackney residents, particularly those in the most marginalised communities.
He received this award in recognition of his holistic approach to Hackney’s economy. Judges recognised that his work has permitted businesses and people to thrive, especially when considering the landscape of council funding cuts.
Environment and Sustainability Pioneer
Winner: Cllr Sally Longford – Nottingham City Council
Cllr Longford is recognised as an enthusiastic pioneer of environmental culture change, representing the council in Nottingham’s Green Partnership. Her work embodies important yet achievable strategies, with policies that include tree planting, going plastic-free, green transport and pushing towards a carbon neutral city.
Cllr Longford impressed judges with the wide range of projects she has led, demonstrating that small everyday changes can make an important cumulative difference when tackling the problem of climate change. Her work has inspired citizens to do their bit and has supported behaviour change both within and outside the council.
Special mention: Cllr Carla Denyer – Bristol City Council
Cllr Denyer was commended by our judging panel for the part she has played in the national culture shift in climate change action. Her work on Bristol’s Climate Emergency Motion acted as a catalyst for other councils to follow suit. She was especially praised for managing to construct such a culture change while working from a backbench position.
Innovation and Service Transformation
Winner: Cllr Janet Gardner – London Borough of Hillingdon
Cllr Gardner has been a vocal defender of domestic violence victims since 1994, when she was first elected. During her time as a councillor, she has established the Domestic Violence Forum, which elevated the political priority of the problem and transformed attitudes towards domestic violence.
Cllr Gardner’s sustained dedication to to this cause was greatly applauded by the judges. They acknowledged the transformative effect she has had on attitudes towards this crime in Hillingdon, creating an environment in which victims feel able to approach the authorities. She led a major redesign of domestic violence services, all the more impressive given she was working from outside the council administration. She began work in this space at a time when it fell between the cracks in the public sector, but through her efforts she has made it a council priority.
Special mention: Cllr Chris Penberthy – Plymouth City Council
Judges praised Cllr Penberthy for pioneering the use of crowdfunding for community projects. They were impressed by his willingness to take risks on new ideas at a time where funding constraints have led others to be more cautious. Many of the judges even felt inspired to explore this idea in their own areas.
Young Councillor of the Year
Winner: Cllr David Beaney – Dover District Council
Standing in a district which has historically been prejudiced against traveller groups, Cllr Beaney has taken on these negative attitudes and facilitated a more positive relationship between the communities. His work as a ward councillor has brought tangible benefits to his elderly residents who now benefit from a community bus service. He also successfully resolved a village boundary dispute that was leaving people excluded from political decision-making.
Cllr Beaney impressed judges with the range of high impact work he has undertaken across several areas of council business including planning and transport. He has overcome personal discrimination and prejudice and succeeded in building bridges between the Traveller community and the other residents of the district.
Special mention: Cllr Mariam Dawood – London Borough of Newham
The nominations we received for Cllr Dawood commented on how generous she is with her time and praised her successful advocacy on issues including preventing the local school from being turned into an academy and scrapping bulky waste collection charges. Judges were inspired by Cllr Dawood’s dedication to the residents of Newham, going so far as to learn new languages in order to engage with them.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Cllr Lord Peter Smith – Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council
Lord Smith’s commitment and determination for improvement has seen Wigan Borough transform into a thriving and modern borough. His leadership over many years on the regional stage through the Greater Manchester Combined Authority was key to delivering the devolution deal that saw Greater Manchester take control of powers and budgets from Whitehall in 2014.
Lord Smith is one of the driving forces behind the Wigan Deal, the council’s pioneering service transformation, and the creation of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, a pivotal moment for devolution in local government. After decades committed to local government, he has achieved great things for Wigan including the Believe in Leigh fund, and has successfully attracted large-scale cultural and sporting events to the town.
Special mention: Cllr Colin Spence – Suffolk County Council
Cllr Spence embodies a hard-working councillor who has operated behind the scenes for decades, making improvements to local services and overseeing major improvements in emergency service response. Cllr Spence stands out for his dedication to public protection in his many years of work alongside the police, fire services and the voluntary sector and judges would like to commend Cllr Spence for the lasting legacy he has created in Suffolk.
Leader of the Year
Winner: Cllr Darren Rodwell – Barking and Dagenham
Since becoming leader he has set about modernising the council, placing greater importance on scrutiny, particularly around planning and development. Cllr Rodwell has pioneered an innovative restructuring of council services in the borough, including through his Community Solutions scheme which achieved improved civic engagement and better outcomes for residents while saving the council £5m a year.
Judges were overawed by Cllr Rodwell’s clear passion for his community, which shone through in the nominations he received. He has inspired an ambitious and innovative transformation of the council’s work, re-designing it around citizen voices and his persistence and leadership has allowed residents and businesses to reap the rewards.
Congratulations to all our winners and thank you to everyone who attended! See the coverage of the night on Twitter #CllrAwards19
Hear interviews with all the awards winners on this week’s LGiU Fortnightly podcast.