STOCKTON-on-Tees Borough Council has finished runner-up in a bid to be crowned the country’s best local authority.
The Council was one of only six finalists in the ‘Local Authority of the Year’ category of this year’s Municipal Journal (MJ) Achievement Awards.
And at an awards ceremony last night, it was announced as the only ‘Highly Commended’ entry in the category.
The award, which ranks among the most prestigious accolades in local government, was won by City of Wolverhampton Council.
Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “To be named the second best council in the country is a huge achievement and a ringing endorsement of how we have approached a period of unprecedented challenge.
“In the last six years we have lost 1,000 staff and yet we face further Government funding reductions that will rise to £75million a year by 2019/20, when compared with 2010/11. To put this into context, it’s a 62 per cent drop over 10 years.
“Despite this, we’ve got on with reshaping the Council to deliver the changes needed. We have maintained our focus on protecting the areas and the people most in need while also remaining very ambitious for the Borough.
“We continue to invest in the long-term future of the Borough, with a focus on stimulating economic growth and creating jobs, facilities and opportunities for residents, businesses and future generations.
“We’re innovating too, by investing in projects that enable us to generate income or savings – whether it be the development of a new Hilton hotel, the Spark of Genius joint venture, street lighting replacement programme, or a new crematorium.
“It’s this kind of ‘can-do’ attitude that has seen us recognised as a high-performing council for many years now, and we are delighted to receive this accolade.”
The Council’s Chief Executive, Neil Schneider, added: “We set high standards in all that we do and this is much-deserved recognition for our staff, who continue to work extremely hard to deliver quality services at time of great challenge and uncertainty.
“As well as the progress we have made in the regeneration of the Borough, the last year has seen Ofsted rank our children’s services ranked among the best in the country, and our students achieve record GCSE results.
“Though it’s great to be recognised in this way, we also accept that we don’t always get things right and when that happens we always look closely at what we can do to improve.”
The other finalists were Salford City Council, Test Valley Borough Council, Vale of Glamorgan Council, and London Borough of Sutton.
The MJ’s awards summary says: “This category highlights success not just in one local authority department or project but right across the organisation. Winning this prestige category, or reaching the shortlist, sends out a message to both staff, partners and potential partners that the local authority is a high-performing council, an important factor at a time of increasing devolution.”