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LGC AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE: SHORTLIST FOR INNOVATION OF THE YEAR

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Birmingham City Council ...
Birmingham City Council

Gallery 37 is a four-week training and work experience programme in the arts located in the city's prestigious Centenary Square. Large white pagoda structures create a unique architectural canvas village providing an exciting environment for young people to create artworks in the heart of Birmingham.

In 1998, 116 unemployed young people aged 16 to 24 years worked on six innovative visual arts projects. What is unique to Gallery 37 is that the young people become apprentice artists and are paid a wage to create quality artwork that is sold in the on-site retail shop or commissioned for public spaces. Simultaneously, they receive NVQ accredited training and valuable skills.

Gallery 37 has combined the skills and expertise of major arts organisations in the city with community, youth, enterprise, education and training agencies.

This project provides a vital platform for young people, profiling their talent, imagination and creative contribution to society.

Eastbourne BC

Launched in May 1998, Eastbourne MasterCard is a first for UK councils. Each time an Eastbourne MasterCard is issued, and subsequently used, payments are made by the bank to our community fund.

Every penny generated from this affinity credit card scheme is spent on projects in local communities - projects the public devise and vote for. This income is in addition to all existing community funding, free from government controls and risk-free Ñ the bank administering the card use underwrites all the liability.

Only four months after the card's launch, the scheme had generated between£1,200 and£1,500. A panel consisting of the mayor, chief executive, leader and opposition leader shortlisted two applicants in each of the funding categories: music & art and social. The council's newspaper, the Eastbourne Review, carried a ballot paper for the public to vote on this first round of applications.

Hammersmith and

Fulham LBC

The innovation submitted by Hammersmith and Fulham is the modernisation of its political structures, in a form designed to reconnect local people with the council. The council's radical new mayor/cabinet system, with new arrangements for scrutiny of the executive and for community involvement in council decision-making, was developed in detail from October 1997 and put into place in June 1998.

The new system's impact on how the public engage with the council and on the roles and responsibilities of members and officers is beginning to make itself felt. Traditional decision-making structures are being replaced by new ways of working that are helping the council to look outwards to its community.

Knowsley MBC

Armed with 'ghetto blasters' and a selection of country and classical music, Knowsley MBC has given teenagers a dose of their own medicine.

Knowsley wanted to highlight the problems anti-social behaviour can cause in a way that would grab youngsters' attention and get the message across on their own terms.

Several bodies have been involved, including Knowsley housing department, Merseyside police, the fire brigade and a secondary school.

They tackled 14 and 15-year-olds in a pilot project demonstrating that loud music not to the youngsters' taste was offensive and that hanging around on street corners could be perceived as anti-social. The council pointed out to teenagers that their actions, some unconsciously done and with no criminal element, could be seen as threatening.

Stirling Council

A code of conduct for Stirling Council is a list of the rights and responsibilities that apply to everyone working for the council. It was approved by all members, the management team and unions and has been adopted across the organisation.

The code describes the behaviours expected within the organisation. It encourages feedback and shows that this is welcomed at all levels, within and across services.

The code was developed by employees. It is about how we work, not what we do. It is monitored by employee mediators, themselves trained by other employees. The code is how we all want work to be.

The innovation was developed by a group of 26 employees and through a wide consultation process. It has established a consistency across services and created a framework for positive behaviour, setting the tone for the organisation and encouraging self-management.

'Innovation comes in many forms and ultimately looks at providing a unique perspective to a new or existing issue. An innovation can range from a major implementation to a small adjustment in process which can provide huge benefits to the citizen. On the basis of our commitment to the local government market, ITNET is proud to be associated with promoting innovation by supporting this category.

With more than 10 years experience working in partnership with the public sector, ITNET has a keen interest in innovative improvements, particularly in the field of IT. Through providing a wide portfolio of services to our customers, we too aim to provide innovative solutions and a unique approach to achieving benefits in terms of effective delivery and quality of council services.

The motivation for local authorities to achieve best value for their citizens is mirrored this year by the large number of entries for this category. This can only be seen as a positive progression for the public sector.

ITNET wishes to congratulate all those who submitted an entry in the innovation category and I would like to offer my own personal congratulations to those authorities whose innovation has been shortlisted for the award.'

Tom Carroll, public sector director, ITNET.

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