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Council of the Week: Shrewsbury Town Council
Shrewsbury Town Council is widely recognised as one of the leading local (parish and town) councils in England and so is very deserving of the Council of the Week.
Despite still being in its infancy, having formed in 2009, the Council has achieved numerous accolades and achievements, including being crowned Britain in Bloom Champion of Champions and Most Courteous Town in 2014.
The council is one of the leading advocates of the Government’s Our Place Programme and its Team Shrewsbury partnership is already being held as a shining example of best practice and has been rolled out to other parts of the country, including Worcester. The project has also been promoted as best practice by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
The partnership explores the potential of different public sector agencies in the area working together to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour and quality of life issues in the town centre. Team Shrewsbury work together on a raft of issues and projects; from Britain in Bloom to the Christmas lights switch on to serial graffiti artists and promoting river safety.
In the past year, Team Shrewsbury has seen arrests for drug dealing and misuse, as well as shop lifting and has addressed some of the towns grot spots. The partnership has also saved the collective public purse considerably by developing a different approach to tacking unauthorised bonfires and working together on Community Days of Action, resulting in reductions of anti-social behaviour.
Shrewsbury Town Council is also conscious that it lives in a digital age with an increasingly sophisticated public, requiring continuously improving standards and levels of service.
The council is aware of the need to find a balance between meeting community expectation and budgets, so is continuously looking at doing things differently. With this in mind, Shrewsbury Town Council has embraced social media and has incorporated this as a vital part of its overall communications model.
The council has a thriving Twitter account with around 1,800 followers and an active Facebook page with close to 500 ‘likes’. The council uses these pages to promote two-way communication with the electorate, encourage active engagement and to disseminate real-time updates and announcements about live issues. The council has also recently overhauled its website so that is more suited to today’s technologies. The new site is fully compatible for mobile and tablet viewing and is more responsive, meaning visitors can find what they are looking for quickly and easily:
Sometimes it is easy to forget this council was only established in 2009 with its long and enviable track record of achievement and success, in particular its growing partnerships with other organisations and agencies. This council’s success proves how important local democracy and grassroots councils are to their local areas. Shrewsbury Town Council is certainly one to watch!
Finally, Shropshire Association of Local Councils (SALC) congratulates Shrewsbury Town Council for the marked difference it has made with its partner organisations in putting Shrewsbury first and achieving national recognition as one of the happiest, healthiest and most courteous towns in the country. The tireless work of the town mayor should not be forgotten and the support the mayor gives to voluntary and community groups. This year the Mayor presented almost 50 awards in a variety of categories including; business, heritage, community, youth, environment, tourism, courtesy and Market Hall Trader of the Year. By writing a regular weekly column in the local paper The Mayor keeps the community up to date with activities such as the first Shrewsbury SleepOut to raise awareness of homelessness in the town where the Mayor was joined by around 50 people who signed up to ’sleep out’ for a night at the West Mids Showground, raising more than £1,000 for charity.