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Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Stockton Council stands out

Friday, August 10, 2012


Stockton Borough Council is leading the way when it comes to providing services for residents, visitors and businesses.

The Council has been nominated in nine of 21 separate categories for this year's Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) Awards – the largest number of nominations for any local authority in the history of the awards.

Leader of Stockton Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: "It is an incredible achievement to be short-listed among the very best in the country within all of these categories.

"I am very proud of our staff. This recognition is testament to their hard work as they continue to demonstrate their commitment to providing the very best of services and going the extra mile for our residents, despite the challenging economic climate."

Chief Executive of Stockton Borough Council, Neil Schneider, said: "We are an incredibly ambitious Council and are always looking for new and different ways to improve services for our residents – being short-listed in so many categories is a reflection of that.

"Whilst we are very pleased to be receiving this recognition we want to continue to ensure our local residents, businesses and visitors are satisfied with the services we provide. So we always encourage people to give feedback by taking part in our regular resident and business surveys and contacting us directly if they have any issues or suggestions.

More than 360 submissions were entered for the awards from 165 different public service organisations.

Stockton Council has been short-listed in the following categories:

Best Local Democracy Initiative
Best Health and Well-being Initiative
Best Partnership Working Initiative
Best Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative
Best Service Team: Construction and Building Service
Best Service Team: Catering Service
Best Service Team: Waste Management and Recycling Service
Best Service Team: Parks, Grounds and Horticultural Service
Best Service Team: Sports, Leisure and Cultural Service

The award winners will be announced by APSE on Thursday 13 September.

Please find below details of the short-listed entries:

Best Local Democracy Initiative

Stockton Council was the first UK local authority to achieve the Council of Europe's 12-Star City status for promoting local democracy through its 2011 Local Democracy Week campaign, using existing resources and budget. A series of innovative projects, involving both the Council and external organisations, explored and improved the ways the Borough's residents connected with politics.

Best Health and Well-being Initiative

The Council works in partnership with health and voluntary and community organisations to increase people's resilience during the winter months and reduce the risk of winter deaths, particularly among older people with underlying health conditions. Through joint working with health, social care and housing organisations people are offered a tailored package of support. Examples include a handyman service, boiler servicing and repair, energy, fuel debt and benefits advice, volunteer ‘buddying’ service, assistive technologies like temperature sensors and emergency assistance, home insulation and affordable warmth interventions as well as encouraging flu and pneumococcal vaccinations, falls assessments and healthy life-style support.

Best Partnership Working Initiative

Xentrall Shared Services deliver “back office” services in a ground-breaking partnership between Stockton and Darlington Borough Councils. The partnership has enabled both councils to retain control over their services, deliver efficiencies whilst improving service provision at the same time as delivering £9.2 million of savings.

Best Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative

In less than 12 months Stockton Council, with support from Eggborough Power Ltd, which initially provided £3.85m funding and subsequently increased that to £6 million, will have improved the lives of over 1,000 households in the most deprived areas in Stockton through installing external and loft insulation along with new boilers and loft insulation to some of the oldest housing stock that has traditionally been hard to heat and had high levels of fuel poverty. For residents this has meant reduced fuel bills, healthier homes and improvements to the area.

Best Service Team: Construction and Building Service

Stockton Council carries out around 4,000 heating, electrical and lighting jobs a year ranging from big projects like the new lighting scheme on Stockton's Riverside and installing a new boiler plant and heating system in a University to putting a new lighting system in a Town Hall or fitting new radiators in a Library. The Council also carries out 11,000 hours of annual maintenance of over 220 Council properties to make sure the heating, plumbing and electrics are working properly.

Best Service Team: Catering Service

Each schools’ menu is tailored to their individual requirements with input from on-site Cook Supervisors, Headteachers, Catering Managers and pupils and parents using taster days and parents, ‘Come to Lunch Day’. In secondary schools, a move from a traditional multi-choice menu to a cash-cafeteria style service led to a significant increase in uptake following the introduction of food courts along with pasta stations, Spuddy Buddys, ‘help yourself’ Salad Bars and three for two promotions.

Best Service Team: Waste Management and Recycling Service

Stockton Council is piloting new ways of recycling and environmentally friendly waste disposal including a 'reed bed recycling initiative' which sees waste from the gully cleansing service used on reed beds at Thornaby-based haulage and plant hire company Scott Brothers, the use of new technology to plot the most effective collection routes, the introduction of a full range of recycling services for residents as well as more than 30 community recycling sites.

Best Service Team: Parks, Grounds and Horticultural Service

Stockton has won 'Northumbria in Bloom' every year since 2004 and has won 'Britain in Bloom' three times in the last five years – twice awarded a Gold Medal, the highest possible award from the Royal Horticultural Society. Stockton was crowned European Champion in 2010 when winning Entente Florale – Europe’s largest horticultural competition.

The RHS has now nominated Stockton to enter its 'Champion of Champions 2012' competition which sees the very best UK horticultural teams go head to head.

Best Service Team: Sports, Leisure and Cultural Service

As national library use declines, Stockton Council's Library Service is growing, up 15% on 2010. It was the first Library Service in England to secure the Customer Service Excellence standard.

Arts Development has only three full time staff, but stages the massive and unique Stockton International Riverside Festival (SIRF), attracting 100,000 visitors over five days. In 2011, despite the recession, 92% of SIRF visitors thought it was a good use of Council resources. The SIRF Community Carnival has grown from just 30 participants to 1,300, since 2002.

The Sports Development team’s innovative programmes have achieved levels of adult participation in sport above the national average, and the highest in the North East of England. The 2012 Stockton Cycling Festival was the only festival in the UK to incorporate all three British Cycling activity strands, taking the event from concept to national competition, and from zero to approximately 5,000 riders, in just two years.