Born in April 1997 through the union of two separate boroughs and parts of East Sussex CC, Brighton & Hove faced problems of cultural, structural and political variety. It strove to ensure a seamless transition so that residents did not notice the changeover, but nevertheless did notice a difference through plans to improve services and engage the community. Partnerships were set up to attract regeneration funding, Lottery bids were successful, and the council is involved in two best value pilots as well as being an education action zone and a pathfinder for the New Deal for Communities.
Lewisham's goal is to improve the life of residents through high quality service provision and to promote the interests of Lewisham as a place.
By the end of the year Lewisham had achieved a whole range of goals, including becoming one of only eight best value 'whole authority' pilots and gaining pathfinder status in the Local Government Association's New Commitment to Regeneration.
A modern local authority does not work in isolation, and Lewisham works with public, private and voluntary sector partners to deliver efficient quality services accountable to the people of the borough.
South Lanarkshire Council has four linked aims: quality services; effective community leadership; strong local democracy; and productive, rewarded employees.
The council developed meaningful user involvement, significantly improved access to services and introduced a corporate customer care programme.
Innovative methods of involving the public included the award-winning Citizens' Juries. Various council-led public and private sector partnerships generated real benefits.
The council piloted initiatives to improve voter turnout including electronic voting, mobile polling stations and the award-winning Access Your Vote Initiative.
Suffolk CC has taken a long, hard look at the way it conducts its business and relates to others in 1997-98. It has looked at its policies and priorities and the actions it is taking to deliver them. It is beginning to share its vision with others, to seek their views and to see how to work more closely together to promote 'joined up solutions' to the issues identified. These include:
- Access and community involvement
- Learning for life
- Caring and protecting
- A sustainable Suffolk.
The year has given the council a firm base to look at its political structures, to ensure they can deliver these priorities; and at its internal processes Ñ 'the way we do things around here' - to make sure they effectively underpin the challenge.
Torfaen began modernising across local government reorganisation, replacing a more traditional approach by the former constituent councils. It adopted an ambitious but realistic statement of vision and values, with a conscious decision to make a fresh start.
A new management team was appointed with a directive to deliver the council's vision. The committee structure was revised, with two new committees working for closer relationships with the community and external partners. A new culture and ethos of modern local government began to develop.
Modernisation in Torfaen has meant tangible benefits for individuals, communities and groups, and the council's partners.
Trafford's mission statement Ñ putting the community first Ñ has informed all its policies. Focusing on five key areas of work which cut across traditional boundaries and promote partnerships, the council has transformed the culture. The new way of working is based on social outcomes, best value and performance management.
Five key themes lie at the heart of what the council does:
- economic and community regeneration
- children and young people
- community safety
- environment and health
- quality, access and communications.
Award sponsor - Zurich Municipal
Local govemment is currently experiencing changes and has some significant challenges to meet. As leading providers of risk management and insurance services to local authorities, with over 90 years experience, we are well placed to understand and anticipate specific risk management and insurance requirements of customers.
This is the third year in succession that Zurich Municipal has sponsored the premier award 'Council of the Year' at the LGC Awards. At a time when local government is gearing up to comply with the best value regime, this award represents an excellent opportunity to highlight and promote best practice among councils across the country. We are delighted to continue to sponsor this award and look forward to congratulating the efforts of all those involved.
Eddie White, assistant general manager, Zurich Municipal.