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Council crowned UK's best local authority

Posted on 8 Sep 2017

North Ayrshire Council has officially been crowned the United Kingdom’s best local authority.

The huge accolade came after the Council won the coveted ‘Council of the Year’ award at the prestigious Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards last night (Thursday).

Chief Executive Elma Murray hailed it as a ‘phenomenal achievement’ and paid tribute to staff, Elected Members and North Ayrshire’s communities. While Councillor Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, was also quick to congratulate employees based across the region.

It was the fourth year the Council had been nominated in the category but the first time as winners in what is regarded as the pinnacle of public sector awards.

 It was also a double night of celebration with the ‘Change’ team also winning the Best Efficiency and Transformation Initiative at the ceremony.

 Ms Murray said: “I am hugely honoured and humbled that we’ve won this award. It is a phenomenal achievement for all of our staff.

 “These are challenging times – I think everyone can recognise that. But we have the most wonderful, inspirational staff who find lots of innovative ways to work with our communities to deliver the most exceptional service to the people of North Ayrshire.

 “We are fortunate in North Ayrshire to have ambitious Elected Members who continually challenge us to work with the focus, passion and inspiration that is needed in, often, difficult circumstances. This award recognises the creativity, innovation, progress and hard work being carried out across a very wide range of different services to improve the lives of the people of North Ayrshire.

 “We might not be the biggest authority, but are punching above our weight and can compete at the highest level with Councils right across the UK.”

 North Ayrshire beat off competition from finalists Fife Council, Aberdeen Council, City and County of Swansea, Hull City Council/Kingstown Works Ltd, Nottingham City Council, Oxford City Council and Stockton on Tees Borough Council.

 Cllr Cullinane added: “This award is recognition for the hard work of all North Ayrshire Council staff, from the management team to the people on the ground who deliver our public services through to our excellent group of modern apprenticeships.

 “For many people their only interaction is with one or two council services such as our waste collection. However, this award recognises the full range of services that our staff deliver all year round.

“From our Holiday Hunger programme that feeds children through the school holidays to the Environmental Enforcement Team fighting to tackle litter and dog fouling.

“The Health and Social Care Partnership’s community hub model at Vennel Gardens and Montgomery Court through to the amazing work done by the Alcohol and Drug Partnership with initiatives such as Café Solace.

“The Council’s house building programme that is delivering high quality new council homes whilst working to install solar panels on 500 existing council homes to tackle fuel poverty.

“Our innovative education programmes such as the Professional Learning Academy which is helping our teachers develop new skills to improve literacy and numeracy through to the Family Learning Team working with the whole family to support children’s educational journey.

“The work we do with our young people through our Youth Forums to listen and engage with them and the opportunities that our Nurturing Excellence programme offers our most talented young musicians, athletes and artists.

“And our leading business support initiative, Team North Ayrshire, which is helping local businesses grow through to the fantastic campaign that the Council led last year to keep the Arran ferry sailing from Ardrossan.

 “And we could not do that without the local people, groups and public sector partners who work every day, throughout North Ayrshire, to make a difference. A massive thank you for all you do – this award is also for you.

"This award by no way means that the Council have cracked it. We still have high levels of deprivation, too many children living in poverty, adults struggling to find work and health inequalities to deal with. And of course central government austerity still looms large. We will continue to strive for improvement and with the whole North Ayrshire team working to do that I am more confident that we can do that despite the challenges.”

 The APSE awards recognise and reward innovation which has resulted in improved levels of service to local communities and people.

 Hundreds of submissions were received from local authorities across Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales in 22 categories.