In some respects these are dark times for local government: budgets are being cut; services are being ravaged. However, the innovators whose inspirational work we discover more about in this shortlist supplement are helping to ensure councils improve the quality of their services, even in lean times.
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.
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.
The LGC Awards also exists 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 21 March: over 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 difficult discussions over the future distribution of funding between councils, 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 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, following on from site visits to the councils themselves.
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.