As local government enters its seventh year of austerity, the sector could have been forgiven for sinking into a pit of despair, fighting just to keep the lights on. But this year’s LGC Awards shortlist tells a very different story; the list makes for inspired and inspiring reading.
The LGC Awards recognise innovation in local government. Through the 20 categories we seek to celebrate those councils doing things differently to improve the quality and efficiency of services. That the 2017 awards have attracted a record number of entries is an indication of the scale of change and transformation taking place in services across the country.
The drive and creativity demonstrated by council staff never fails to impress, even more so given the unprecedentedly challenging financial circumstances they find themselves in, and in spite of an often unsympathetic public and hostile media. This year our new Rising Star award seeks to recognise the individuals developing these new ideas and making them happen, spreading enthusiasm and inspiration along the way. The award is intended to highlight local government’s exceptional officers and professionals who are currently not in corporate management team roles, such as team leaders and heads of service. No doubt the shortlist features some of tomorrow’s chief executives.
The LGC Awards also exist to champion and share the best new ideas and innovations for the benefit of the sector as a whole. For us the awards do not end with the celebration on 8 March: during the year we will explore some of the most novel and effective shortlisted entries, in print and online, providing a further opportunity for the sector to learn from their peers.
At tough times like these, and with the UK’s departure from the EU on the horizon, it has never been more important for the sector to stick together. During a year that is set to bring some extremely difficult discussions about the future distribution of funding between councils and not to mention the structure of local government in two-tier areas, the LGC Awards is an occasion to come together. It is a short moment out of everyday life to celebrate the successes of individuals, teams and councils but also to reflect on the achievements of the sector as a whole during the most challenging period in its history.
I urge you to have a good read of the shortlist. In the next stage of the judging process, the representatives of shortlisted councils will come face to face with expert panels to present their cases and answer searching questions from the judges. In the Council of the Year category, we will again stage live judging on the day of the awards ceremony – 8 March.
Huge congratulations to all those who have been shortlisted. This in itself is a major achievement. I must also thank our dedicated judges who give up their time to read entries and cross-examine finalists. Their knowledge and experience is vital. I would also like to thank our business partners, who not only make the awards possible but also bring invaluable insight and expertise to the process.