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NALC’s Star Council Awards are the only awards which recognise the achievements of the local (parish and town) council sector. The awards celebrate the positive impact that councils, county associations, councillors and clerks have on their communities.
This year's finalists have been announced and it's time to vote for your Council of the Year in a public vote. Please see the supporting statements from the finalists below and cast your votes by 30 September.
Feock Parish Council, Cornwall – VOTE NOW
A joint wellbeing project with Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, Local GPs and Truro City Council has been launched called “Community Connect.” This involves the employment of a community navigator role who will work to connect communities within the parish, liaise with local residents and groups to link isolated and vulnerable people to these groups, arranging transport and accompanying them if necessary to help them become more connected and supported in the community.
The council has declared a climate emergency and has set up focus groups made up of both councillors and residents to look at how the council works, recycling and green spaces, transport, education and communication and green energy production. The council will be considering recommendations from the focus groups as part of their budget setting process for 2020/21.
The council continues to work closely with local organisations and the local school to bring together all age groups within the community. The council has provided match funding for a community garden near to the school which the school gardening club will work on, including local apple trees, growing wildflowers and pollinators which they will then plant out during the Spring. Older people from the community will also join with the children to help maintain the garden.
The Neighbourhood Plan has recently been used to successfully defend a planning decision at a public appeal hearing for development in the parish.
An area of wasteland has been identified by the council to be planted as a Community Wood and we are working with the landowners, Cornwall Council and the Woodland Trust to plant this with 1500 trees.
A new sports recreation area for older children and adults is being installed funded by Section 106, which has also been used to upgrade equipment at a younger children’s play area.
A footpath working group continues to work to improve footpaths, as well as improvements this group are also looking at surfacing some paths to make them accessible to all, including the elderly, children’s buggies and wheelchair users, linked to the Connect project, providing 5 ‘safe’ surface walking routes.
The council have funded highways improvements to give safer pedestrian access, including a 20mph zone, pavement and planters to control parking on pavements. They have also been successful in securing funding from Cornwall Council for a portable visual speed warning sign to be moved around the parish at speeding hot spots. A poster competition was run in conjunction with the local primary school to design ‘slow down’ posters to be displayed around the parish.
A water bottle refill point is being installed at one of our Quays which is on the coast to the coast cycle route, this has been part-funded by South West Water.
The Feock volunteer driver local transport scheme has now been running for 6 years and provides on average 20 trips a week for local residents.
A quarterly newsletter that is delivered to all residents has been launched and work has started a mobile phone app to further improve communications.
Salisbury City Council, Wiltshire – VOTE NOW
The community of Salisbury weathered a tough year over 2018, which saw international poisoning incidents affecting residents and visitors alike.
Although this was a tragic and serious incident, the City Council, its members and officers, were keen to show the local community and visitors alike that Salisbury was very much operating as business as usual.
The City Council has worked in close partnership with Wiltshire Council and central Government bodies in the immediate aftermath and in the longer-term recovery but managing the impact on our services has been equally important.
Our teams continued to deliver our day to day services, including those recently devolved to us from Wiltshire Council. Our twice-weekly charter markets still took place, providing a much-valued service to our local residents and those in the rural areas. We continued with our Teenage Markets, allowing young people to showcase their skills and initiative, whether that be jewellery makers, comedians or musicians. We delivered numerous public events including celebrating St George’s Day, Picnic in the Park. Armed Forces and Play Day; all offering free activities for families and with hundreds of people attending each event. We took part in Heritage Open Days, giving our communities the opportunity to visit buildings normally closed. We delivered the Food Festival showcasing local food vendors. Our Charter Fair and Carnival took place in October, with over 40 entries including 14 local community floats watched by thousands of people. Our Christmas Lights switch on was the busiest ever, again thousands of people attending and enjoying an evening of family entertainment.
In addition, our Information Centre and Shopmobility teams ensured all visitors were able to access the best the City has to offer. Behind the scenes our Grounds Team continued to work hard ensuring our parks and open spaces were at their very best, especially Queen Elizabeth Gardens which was cordoned off for several months due to the incident, and this year has seen improved and valuable joint working by our Grounds Team with SCC employed Litter Enforcement Officers and our contracted Street Cleaning Officers
Our Communities Team embarked on a five-year project with Wiltshire Community Foundation to deliver the Stronger Families Project in one of our areas of social deprivation, aiming to bring together a panel of local people who determine how this project unfolds and when the funding is spent. Our Physical Activity leaders have continued giving schools and care homes access to physical activity sessions.
And now, a year on Salisbury has been declared as the 2019 Sunday Times Best Place to live, and Salisbury has the lowest littering rate in England according to the Solar Centre for research, but we will not rest on our laurels. This year will be better than ever, Salisbury is hosting the National Armed Forces Day event on June 2019, we will continue with all of our other activities and we are embarking the Neighbourhood Development Plan process, giving local people a say on how they want their city to develop… Watch this space!
Woughton Community Council, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes – VOTE NOW
Woughton Community Council (WCC) covers the most diverse parish in Milton Keynes – the oldest ‘new’ part of the city. Falling within the 10% of most deprived wards in the country (despite being in a city that is prosperous) the parish has a unique set of challenges. Whilst financially poor, the parish is strong in community spirit, determination and passion for change. Our residents were clear that they wanted the council to focus on addressing some of the big issues; poverty (financial, food, opportunity), youth provision and the local environment. As a result, a comprehensive and challenging service plan was created, focusing on these issues.
Community Food projects aim to ensure that nobody is hungry. Our Youth Service provides meals (and cooking classes) to young people, many of whom would not otherwise get a hot meal. Our Community Café is building upon the sessions provided by local groups, providing hot food and social contacts within our community venues. And the Community Fridge which opened in October has already seen over 3 ½ tonnes of food saved, with over 2000 visits to the fridge. Utilising this food, which would otherwise have gone to landfill, means that ALL our food projects bring this added value. Our advice service focuses on those most in need. With evidence that mental health was a significant issue within the parish, the council employed a specialist mental health worker and creating a dedicated Wellbeing Room. This provides safe, supportive approaches to develop confidence and enable people to retake control of their lives. This will continue to develop alongside the advice service, which has seen prevention of homelessness, increase in incomes and access to a local, responsive and comprehensive advice service (and if it can’t help directly, it knows someone who can).
Our youth provision reaches across the parish and beyond, being home to groups that support people across the city. Sessions for those with Special Educational Needs, young carers, young parents and the LGBTQ+ community are all held within our dedicated youth centre, which also houses a recording studio and a new community gym. Dance, street art, open sessions and the new Play Rangers service (offering family play in green open spaces) are also part of this provision. The parish has seen reducing youth violence and teen pregnancy increased educational attainment and has avoided the worst of gang culture. Merging our Landscape and Environment Teams and investing in ‘green’ approaches have seen improvements in key areas; fly-tipping and litter, refurbishing open spaces, developing community leaders and developing more sustainable approaches to the landscape. Using electric vehicles and bikes, investigating nonchemical approaches and building green energy and infrastructure into all aspects of the council mean that we deliver for today and the future. The council sits at the heart of Milton Keynes, both literally and figuratively. With all councillors elected and focused on innovation and creativity, it continues to lead. Celebrating 125 years in 2020, the council continues to respond to the ever-changing needs of the community.