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04 Apr 2011
The Local Government Chronicle has recently announced the winners of it 2011 'Recognising Innovation' awards.
Congratulations go to those authorities in the East Midlands who have featured highly in both winning entries and those projects that have been highly commended by the judges, listed below are their details:
Most Improved Council of the Year Award - WINNER
North East Derbyshire DC
Project - Shaping the Future
North East Derbyshire DC decided to re-organise its management and departmental structure: the aim was to tackle a ‘silo working' culture. They began by producing a five-year corporate plan covering the period 2011-15 - this was done while the council faced having to make savings that amounted to 30% of its budget. The decision was made to create ‘people and place directorates' in place of departments; a detailed report was then commissioned on the challenges facing the district council. North East Derbyshire has worked to get as many staff as possible involved in meeting its efficiency targets. Similarly, other local stakeholders were also consulted with a view to prioritising some services and placing less emphasis on others. The council successfully reduced its budget by 30% in April 2010.
‘‘ They have continued to demonstrate innovation, value for money and an absolute priority to meet the needs of their citizens."
Finance Award - WINNER
Project - Celebrating Continuous Improvement
Northamptonshire's achievements include launching a local government shared services operation in partnership with Cambridgeshire CC that will provide "transactional, professional and strategic support" to both local authorities and other interested public sector bodies. The council also provides information to residents on how it spends its money by detailing transactions of more than £500
on its website. The pension scheme's costs per member stands at £19.91, compared with an average of £21.77. Treasury benchmarking club data shows that the council is paying interest at an average of 4.09%, compared with a club average of 5.30%, and receiving interest at a rate of 5.50% compared with an average of 5.22%.
"The authority's progress in finance has been meteoric. Also, the whole team is operating at a very high level."
Low Carbon Council Award - WINNER
Project - A Low Carbon Council
After taking part in the Carbon Trust's carbon management programme, Mansfield DC decided to work to reduce its energy costs by £2.8m by 2013-14. Consequently, the council agreed a programme for implementing carbon reduction measures. It also recruited a climate change officer. So far, the council has allocated £160,000 to specific energy-saving measures across all departments, out of £484,000 of funding that has been made available. Last August Mansfield ran an energy awareness week in conjunction with the Energy Saving Trust and an energy advice pack for residents is being designed. In 2009-10, a 12% reduction in emissions was achieved across the council.
"An exemplar for districts and boroughs across the country, demonstrating what can be achieved in a short time from a standing start."
Health and Social Care Award - HIGHLY COMMENDED
Project - Prevention is better than cure
Kettering aims to improve the health of people in the borough in a number of different ways including: the provision of a cardiac rehabilitation scheme for older people; the provision of the ‘Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It!' programme, which aims to prevent obesity among children and young people; and maximising opportunities for sport, leisure and culture via the 2012 cultural Olympiad. Community engagement has been key, and the council runs healthy living services in sheltered accommodation, village halls, community centres, and at roadshows and sporting events. A total of 30,000 people have taken part in the keephealthy@kettering initiative over the past year, including more than 1,600 young people who took part in children's holiday activities.
Legal Award - HIGHLY COMMENDED
Project - Creating a Positive Mansfield
The legal team has had an important role in tackling two of the council's priorities: revitalising the district - as well as the town centre and neighbourhoods - and reducing crime and antisocial behaviour. To further these aims, the council decided that it would be useful if all housing officers were given legal training to help improve the poor relationship between its housing and legal departments. The housing officers are now much more aware of what evidence the legal department needed when handling cases and how such evidence is best gathered. The positive results include a reduction in legal spend from £200,000 per year to £30,000. Mansfield has also managed to increase the number of antisocial behaviour injunctions it secures.
Workforce Award - HIGHLY COMMENDED
Project - Northamptonshire Teach er Recruitment & Retention Strategy
Northampton created its NTRRS in 2009 in response to a number of issues, including a pupil/teacher ratio that was higher than the national average, a lack of secondary newly qualified teachers, and a lack of succession planning for replacing a large number of headteachers aged 55 or over. The appointment of a recruitment, retention and trainee teacher adviser was one of the key measures that was carried out, as was a detailed needs assessment. There had been 722 expressions of interest from newly qualified teachers by the end of the first year of the initiative, while 21 governors had received recruitment training. Sixteen headteachers also took part in the council induction programme, which aims to create a more stable workforce.
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