WIGAN Council has once again been nominated for one of the most prestigious prizes in local government – six months after an independent survey found a 50 per cent increase in resident satisfaction levels in the borough.
The council is one of five authorities battling it out for the “Best Achieving Council” prize at the annual MJ Awards – which honours excellence in local government across the country. The council was a runner up at last year’s awards and will be up against Cheshire West and Chester Council, Glasgow City Council, Norwich City Council and Thurrock Council at this year’s awards.
The nomination comes despite Wigan Council seeing its budget cut by 30 per cent – the third biggest cut to its budget of any local authority in the country according to the Financial Times. Since 2010, the council has wrestled with cuts of more than £100m, yet in the same period an independent survey found satisfaction with how the council runs services rose by 50 per cent.
Judges were impressed by the council’s strong performance across a range of services. Singled out for particular praise was the council’s drive towards creating greater self-reliance among its communities through The Deal and its consistently strong leadership.
Donna Hall, chief executive of Wigan Council, said: “Many of our residents will be familiar with The Deal by now – in essence it’s about promoting greater self-reliance in our communities, to help us balance the books and to encourage greater responsibility. One of the initiatives to come out of The Deal is the Community Investment Fund, which has seen £5m offered to voluntary groups to help support communities across the borough.
“We are really thankful for the difference all of these groups make and in particular Barbara Nettleton from Sunshine House in Scholes, who is part of the team being interviewed by the judging panel today.
“In addition to that, our Deal for Adult Social Care has seen services for adults transformed – we’re now having a conversation with service users to find out what they want to do and connecting them with the activities that interest them in their local community. This is saving us money, while improving the lives of our residents who have greater choice and flexibility.
“There’s a long way to go, but if our recent residents survey is anything to go by I’m confident we’re on the right road. I’d like to thank residents for supporting us on this journey and staff for helping to lead the way and embrace the transformation.”
Chairman of Waterfield’s Bakery – one of the largest employers in Wigan Borough and chair of the Wigan Forward Board, Richard Waterfield, said: “I am delighted that Wigan Council has been nominated for the Best Achieving Council which is richly deserved.
“The council has managed to successfully implement savings across the borough with a positive impact on the local community by involving the private sector in delivering the strategy set by the leadership.
“There is a genuine and achievable desire to improve the living standards of the people within the borough by bringing together all interested parties around the same table with the same agenda.”
The overall winner will be announced on June 18.