In the second installment of our countdown to the Annual NALC Conference and Star Council Awards, we are talking to Halewood Town Council who won Town Council of the Year at the 2017 Awards. We spoke to Town Manager, George MacKenzie, who tells us about how it felt to win and what the NALC Conference means for Halewood.
Before we talk about the award, please tell us more about Halewood Town Council. What are your core values and visions for the future?
We have been in existence since 1894, first as a Parish Council, but since 1976 as a Town Council. We serve an area which is a mix of social and private housing and is home to the car production giants Jaguar Land Rover. We have a population of approximately 20,000 people served by a Council comprising 12 Elected Members.
Our Core Value is enshrined in our motto ‘Optima Petimus’ ‘We seek the Best’. Interestingly the local ‘high school’ Halewood Academy, has adopted the same motto for itself. That essentially is what governs how we work – whether it’s the running of our two (licensed) Community / Sports Centres/ football pitches / synthetic playing surfaces / three children’s playgrounds or managing functions, we seek to provide the best service we possibly can.
In terms of our visions for upcoming years… to be financially sustainable in the face of cuts from Central Government passed on from the Principal Authority; to work closer with our partners in the community, voluntary, school and faith sectors to provide help and support to those in most need in our community; and to help shape the future of the Township which is due to see significant housing development in the next few years as part of the Principal Authorities Local Plan.
As winners of Town Council of the Year 2017 please can you explain what impact this has had on you, the council and the local community?
From the Town Council’s perspective it was recognition for doing what we consider is the heart of what Town and Parish Councils exist for, helping the more vulnerable in our community. What we do in our community through our two community centres is quite visible. The judging panel for the Council of the Year Award commented on our ‘going beyond the traditional boundaries of local councils’ and so the award helped us highlight to the local community some of the work that is ‘under the radar’ so to speak but nevertheless so very important.
What do you feel was your biggest achievement on the way to picking up Town Council of the Year?
This will sound a bit ‘twee’ but being given the award for making such a difference to the more vulnerable in our community was achievement enough.
With the 2018 NALC conference just around the corner, do you have any advice for any first time attendees?
Enjoy the event, pick up as much help and guidance as you can. Realise that ‘you’re not alone’ in what we are all trying to do and don’t be surprised if you come away with a sense of ‘we’re not doing badly at all.
Finally, what does the NALC conference mean to you and your council?
It was one of the best networking events that I (and our other delegates) have been to, to meet colleagues faced with the same issues and challenges was itself a great opportunity to learn. Contacts made with NALC at the conference have proved invaluable. For Halewood Town Council, Conference 2017 was a highlight of course, we came away with the COTY Award.
Sadly, the Leader of the TC who received the award, Cllr Tina Harris, passed away a few months ago, she had been a Town Councillor for many years and the award was a fitting tribute to her work.
If you are attending the NALC conference and want more information on the Insurance and Risk Management advice we provide, visit us on Stand 1 at the NALC Conference on 30-31 October, where we will also be running a Cyber-crime workshop.
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