Councils named best in the UK at  prestigious awards ceremony

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have taken the top honour at a prestigious local government awards ceremony

The councils, which are separate sovereign authorities but share a single workforce, were named UK Council of the Year at the iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards in London on Wednesday, 6 March.

The award is presented to a council deemed ‘outstanding’ in transforming its services and creating vibrant communities.

The judges praised the councils for their joint vision and innovation – achieving a number of UK firsts – and noted how, by working in collaboration with each other, with partners, and their communities, they continue to raise the bar for public services.

Chief Executive Arthur Charvonia said:

“This is great recognition for our teams and the work they do to support residents and communities. 

We are driven by wanting to deliver great services and make a positive difference in everything we do across our districts. Our teams have shown superb innovation in recent years to make this happen.

At the same time, we are always honest about our imperfections – when we don’t get it right, we want to learn and improve.”

In the last year, the successes have included the opening of the Gateway 14 development on the outskirts of Stowmarket, which will become a flagship hub for business, innovation and logistics. 

The Range has been secured as first occupier, creating 1,650 jobs in its new distribution centre, while a full business case for a new £18million Skills and Innovation Centre on the site has also been approved.

The councils have also led pioneering environmental work to cut carbon emissions. 

They were the first rural councils in the UK to start the switch from diesel to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) to fuel its fleet of bin lorries. Hundreds of solar panels have also been installed on the roofs of Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury, Hadleigh Pool and Leisure, Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre and Stradbroke swimming pool and fitness centre. 

Solar covered parking bays have been installed at Kingfisher Leisure Centre and Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre – the councils were, again, among the first rural UK councils to trial the technology.

Babergh District Council acting leader, Cllr John Ward, said:

“Our teams show what can be achieved despite the challenging financial circumstances that local authorities face. Not just supporting residents and offering good services which are great value, but being innovative and helping create vibrant, thriving communities.”

Mid Suffolk District Council leader Cllr Andy Mellen said:

“This is great recognition for everyone involved – our staff, our councillors, and all the partner organisations that we work with. We are always looking for ways to improve the services we offer residents, and to champion Mid Suffolk as a thriving district, so this award is a very welcome encouragement for all that we are doing.”

The award reflected not just success of the last year, but the impact of the councils’ transformation since becoming a dual authority in 2011. The decision to share a joint Chief Executive and a single workforce has saved around £2million a year - £24m in total – through increased efficiency and service improvement. 

This has also improved knowledge sharing, increased resilience, and enabled the councils to speak with one voice to influence more effectively – while still retaining their individual sovereignty.

For the full details of the iESE awards, visit the website.

Council representatives receive iESE Council of the Year award