Council salutes its best
THE first staff awards at Fenland District Council was the culmination of a commitment by the cabinet and chief executive Tim Pilsbury to celebrate the behind-the-scenes efforts that have gone to make such a massive improvements in council services over t
THE first staff awards at Fenland District Council was the culmination of a commitment by the cabinet and chief executive Tim Pilsbury to celebrate the behind-the-scenes efforts that have gone to make such a massive improvements in council services over the last two years.
The event, at the Cromwell Hotel, March, this week, was a tangible recognition of the appreciation of the whole council for individuals and teams which have performed exemplary service for the Council Tax payers of Fenland.
The mystery award of the night, the Chief Executive's Award, went to manager Keith Ashworth for his exceptional dedication and commitment to the creation of the massively successful Fenland @ your service shops and contact centre. The shops have recorded more than 220,000 visitors and the call centre has handled more than 200,000 calls.
The rest of the awards were divided into six categories, with different presenters for each category. First off the blocks was Andy Perrin, the council's Audit Commission relationship manager and district auditor, presenting the Manager of the Year Award.
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With five strong nominees, the judges had a tough time picking the overall winner. Pete Walls pipped the other contenders at the post for his role in helping transform the Environmental Services Team and for the delivery of the council's 'Getting it Sorted' campaign. His particular strengths are in team building and project management. He was recommended as an excellent role model for budding managers.
Other contenders were: Stephen Beacher for helping deliver the Customer First project against tight deadlines, while introducing and managing new technologies; Keith Ashworth for his central role in creating the Fenland @ your service shops and contact centre; Sam Anthony for the way she fast-tracked improvements to council human resources policies in an imaginative and flexible way; and Philip Van Enis, who was the driving force behind the council's E-government programme.
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Keith Drayton, editor of the Fenland Citizen, presented the Team of the Year award to the E-government team, headed by Peter Van Enis, for delivering 99.85 per cent of the council's E-access implementation programme. The team set an ambitious target of achieving 672 separate e-access items. They achieved 671.
The other four contenders were the environmental services administration team, for the positive and upbeat way they all learned new skills, handled hundreds of calls, particularly during the 'getting it sorted' roll-out; the Options Fenland team, for the magnificent way they project-managed the process of consulting and communicating with all interested parties in preparing for the potential transfer of all council houses to a housing association; the team of scheme managers who provide such a personal touch (including providing home made biscuits) when looking after the residents in 13 sheltered accommodation schemes; and the benefits team for the way they have reduced the average turnaround of a claim from 74 days to 32 days in just three months.
The Employee of the Year award, presented by the deputy editor of the Municipal Journal, Heather Jameson, went to area housing officer Yvonne Ferney for her dedication to the needs and problems of council tenants that goes far beyond her normal job requirements.
Also in the frame for the award were: Dave Vallance, a much-loved character in Chatteris where he is often commended by local residents for his dedication to keeping the town clean and litter free; Donella Benbow for the consistently excellent support she has provided to the overview and scrutiny panel; David Vincent, for the way he has championed health and safety in the work place; Carol Colbeck, a scheme manager who often gives up her weekends to help elderly residents in sheltered accommodation; Sue Bradshaw, an excellent ambassador for the housing needs and advice team; Jodie Leet who is totally dedicated to providing administrative support to the front-line environmental services teams; James Brewer, for his passionate commitment to customer care; Diane Dennis, who pulled out all the stops to ensure the council's E-payments systems was in place; Paul Coupland, who completed his apprenticeship with the port team and has proved his ability to sensible, safety conscious and reliable; Joanne Oakey, for the positive and friendly way she provides support on the ICT Helpline; Stuart German, a multi-talented street cleaning operative who frequently supports groups with learning difficulties involved in litter picking; and Jackie Hunter for the happy and efficient way she runs the council's postroom.
The Meeting the Challenge award category attracted five strong nominations, both as individuals and as teams. The award, in recognition of initiatives undertaken to improve facilities or services to customers, was presented to members of Wisbech's Hudson Leisure Centre by Julie Towers, chief executive of Tribal Resourcing. The Hudson was the second most improved leisure centre in the country.
Other nominees included: Bob Ollier for his tireless work transforming the Fenland countryside and open spaces; the Council Tax team for their tireless dedication to maintaining a first class service during a period of major change; Gill Dorey for her role in improving port health services by producing a Port Health Manual and inspecting ships; and the Pendleton Team for achieving maximum 21 points under the Government's E-enabling initiative for planning-related matters, putting Fenland among the best councils in the country.
Four nominations were put forward for the Going the Extra Mile, presented by Dennis Skinner, regional associate of IDeA for in the East of England and London. The Street Pride team, headed by Jo Hart, scooped the award for their selfless dedication to cleaning up areas of Fenland in their own time at weekends.
Other nominations were for Trevor Scott for his exceptionally supportive approach to staff during the installation of complex IT systems; Martin Rogers, a key player behind the scenes ensuring the success of the Customer First launch; and Paul Clitheroe, who played a vital role in delivering the 'Getting it Sorted' recycling initiative.
Councillor Geoffrey Harper, council leader, said: "Recognising staff for commitment above and beyond the call of duty is all part of building a happy and productive environment that delivers top quality services to the people of Fenland.
"The council is among the best in the country in many areas and the staff have shown a real appetite and determination to make further improvements. We are all very proud of the winners and those who were nominated.