Following on from receiving recognition as Local Council of the Year for 2016, council leader Peter Fleming and his Deputy Michelle Lowe have been speaking about the award.
The original citation for the award was as follows;
‘Political and managerial leadership, a culture of empowerment and “no blame” and Sevenoaks’ mantra that “the customer is anyone who isn’t me” has resulted in two outstanding collective achievements this year: financial self-sufficiency; and being awarded Investors in People’s platinum standard. Across the vast majority of its services Sevenoaks is meeting or exceeding targets and resident and staff satisfaction levels remain high, even as resources shrink and responsibilities increase. Sevenoaks believes it can best succeed by empowering its people to achieve, supported by exceptional managers and leaders.’
Peter said “having been nominated, the journey to winning this prestigious honour was lengthy and arduous, and involved both an initial submission, a three hour Judges visit a month ago and a ‘live’ presentation in front of all the judges and an audience on the day itself.”
As the night went on, the Sevenoaks team began to think it wasn’t going to be their night. They were shortlisted against some really tough opposition, Newcastle City, South Norfolk, North Yorkshire, South Tyneside and Newham, and a lot of the awards were going to the Northern Cities. So the team were absolutely delighted when Sir Trevor McDonald announced ‘and finally…..’ and were quickly up on stage to pick up the award for Local Government Council of the Year 2016.
Peter was keen to acknowledge the part played by the whole Conservative Group, saying that “The whole Group had played its part in the years culminating in this prestigious award.”
Despite the award, Peter didn't want to stand still and wanted to ensure "we push on to the next level , so the Conservative led council is fit for the challenges that will be facing local government in the future, and the continuing journey of improvement for the residents.”
Michelle, who was still buzzing with enthusiasm, saying;
"I couldn't believe that the LGC actually gave 'Council of the Year' to a district council. We were up against such stiff competition from county and unitary councils, and it goes to show just how strong we are performing that we still managed to win through. We believe we are the first district council to ever win the award.
"The foresight of councillors and officers to see that our grant from central government was constantly dwindling and the need to become financially self-sufficient from central government - was one of the main reasons we won. But the judges also recognised that we have made huge savings while still maintaining morale of our staff - being the only public sector organisation to hold the Platinum Investors in People award; all the time while maintaining high quality services to our residents.
"And we are not sitting back on our laurels - but still have future plans to make our district the best place to live and work as we continue to be innovative and creative with initiatives such as our housing and health agenda - to name one that is particularly close to my heart!"
Congratulations are due to the officers and the Conservative led council, on this magnificent achievement.