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Best and brightest councillors honoured

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Local government’s best and brightest councillors have had their achievements saluted at a Westminster celebration of the sector’s talent.

North East Derbyshire DC’s Graham Baxter (Lab) was presented with the councillor of the year accolade at Tuesday night’s C’llr Achievement Awards.

Judges – including LGC editor Emma Maier – praised Cllr Baxter’s determination to provide excellent services, which has seen the East Midlands authority rise from “weak” to “excellent” in its Comprehensive Performance Assessment under his leadership, as well as achieving 20% efficiencies.

They said: “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.”

Wandsworth LBC deputy leader Maurice Heaster (Con) was presented with a Churches, Charities and Local Authorities (CCLA) outstanding  contribution to financial performance award for being the “driving force” behind  the borough’s efficiency and value-for-money achievements for the past 25 years.

Judges at the Local Government Information Unit and CCLA event said Cllr Heaster had great personal involvement with the benchmark-setting London council, famed for its low council tax and innovation.

“Cllr Heaster has set this agenda seen it through over a long period of time,” they said.

“‘He is a powerful figure in Wansdsworth and his control of money is absolute.”

Other winners at the Westminster City Hall ceremony were:

  • Young councillor of the year: Durham CC’s Becky Brunskill (Con)
  • Community champion of the year: Manchester City Council’s Luthfur Rahman (Lab)
  • New councillor of the year: Westminster City Council’s Sheila D’Souza (Con)
  • Online councillor of the year: Southwark LBC’s James Barber (Lib Dem)
  • Partnership achievement of the year: East Devon DCs Ray Franklin (Con)
  • Scrutineer of the year: Lincolnshire CC’s Robert Parker (Lab)
  • Sustainability champion of the year: Worcestershire CC’s Anthony Blagg (Con)
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