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Plymouth wins Local Authority of the Year at MJ awards

17 September 2021

CEX and leader We’ve done it! We’ve won the Local Authority of the Year award in the 2021 Municipal Journal awards following a year like no other.

Plymouth City Council has scooped the top award beating five other councils who were shortlisted for the prestigious awards organised by the trade bible for councils

Council Leader Nick Kelly, Deputy shadow leader Councillor Sue Dann and Chief Executive Tracey Lee were presented with the award by Ed Balls at a ceremony in London today.

The judges said: “Pride in the city leaps off the pages of Plymouth’s submission. It has taken a novel, consistent and effective approach to putting the city on the map as Britain’s Ocean City. The council is clearly ambitious, strongly engaged in its communities and is working well with partners on key agendas.”

Council leader Nick Kelly said: “It’s been a year like no other. I know staff have worked around the clock to deliver services as well as handle every challenge the pandemic has thrown at us all. I am absolutely thrilled that we have been named the local authority of the year. I want to build a real sense of pride in Plymouth and to get this award is just fantastic.”

Chief Executive Tracey Lee: “I could not be more proud of all the staff and our councillors who have helped us to win this accolade. The commitment and the can-do attitude that our staff show day in day out is humbling."

Leader of the Opposition Tudor Evans added: “We are all believe fiercely in Plymouth, in its potential and all work phenomenally hard – from the directors to our street sweepers to do our best for the city. It’s great to have this hard work acknowledged.“

2020 was always going to be a big year for Plymouth, with years of preparation leading up to the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower – but instead the Council, like many others, found itself dealing with a global pandemic, lockdowns and the myriad of challenges it brought. Here’s just some of outstanding achievements:

  • Our Economy: We launched our Resurgam programme to address the unprecedented economic challenges caused by the pandemic and to get back on track in meeting the city’s ambitious growth targets. It sets out action plans for the city’s 11 key economic sectors; including a focus on increasing spend in the local economy; a Skills Launchpad and supporting Marine, Green and Culture priorities.
  • We distributed over £92 million to 7,440 Plymouth businesses. The Skills Launchpad worked with over 100 businesses to identify 8,000 job creations over 18 months, and enabled 10,000 citizens to access self-support.
  • Our infrastructure: £200 million investment including the Forder Valley Link Road and Interchange, the Brunel Plaza redevelopment at  the railway station; £47m of highway maintenance and engineering projects and 12 projects under the Transforming Cities Fund for sustainable travel and green infrastructure.
  • We opened The Box, the £42m redevelopment of the Grade II listed former museum and art gallery and central library buildings with a contemporary extension
  • We’ve kept on track with our improvement journey in supporting children and young people in need of social care. In Spring 2020, social workers completed risk assessments for every child and young person in the service. These identified which children needed face-to-face visits.
  • 800 laptops delivered to vulnerable children, enabling regular contact and better management of schoolwork.
  • We maintained the timeliness of single assessments at 95 per cent, and children in need, child protection and children in care visits completed in time.
  • Our school meals provider CATERed, which we own with the city’s schools ensured free school meals were available to all eligible pupils throughout school closures – that’s nearly 14,000 meals a week in the summer 2020, rising to 47,000 meals a week when schools reopened.
  • We supported 97 care homes with our adult social care provider Livewell Southwest, University Hospitals Plymouth and the Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, and provided dedicated infection control advice and training, managed staffing and resources, delivered emergency PPE, and stood up local testing arrangements for residents and staff prior to national testing programmes.
  • Through Caring for Plymouth, our partnership with Livewell Southwest and the voluntary and community sector, we took over 8,000 calls from vulnerable people, carried out 3,000 welfare checks, delivered hundreds of food parcels and fetched medicine and prescriptions 1,600 times.
  • Through the Plymouth Alliance Contract we are taking a system approach for people with complex needs, covering substance misuse, homelessness, mental health and offending and have seen a dramatic drop in rough sleeping and the prevention or relief of homelessness for 988 households over the last year – double our annual target.
  • We agreed our City Climate Emergency and Corporate Carbon Reduction plans which have over 100 realistic, achievable and deliverable actions. Successes so far include upgrading homes of vulnerable residents with energy efficient measures; installation of 77 electric charging points; a rolling investment in LED lighting in subways and other highway infrastructure. Our Transforming Cities Fund programme includes 300 public electric vehicle charge points, 400 electric bikes, setting up an electric car club, 14 kilometres of off road-cycle improvements, junction improvements and a new control centre, hosting the latest in technological signal advancements.

Plymouth City Council’s Pause Social Outcomes Partnership was highly commended in the ‘Delivering Better Outcomes’ category. Pause is a charity that works with women who have experienced, and are at risk of, having children removed from their care. The programme offers an intensive relationship-based, trauma-informed model of support to women, so the removal of a child should never have to happen more than once.

Plymouth was the first council in the UK to commission a Pause service through an innovative Social Outcomes Partnership, in which the Council works collaboratively alongside other local and national organisations including Trevi, Bridges Outcomes Partnerships and the Pause national charity, with a shared aim to improve outcomes experienced by some of the city’s most vulnerable families.