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Bracknell Forest Council is Council of the Year

Councillors receiving iESE award

Bracknell Forest Council has been officially crowned ‘Council of the Year 2018’ by the leading public sector improvement organisation – iESE.

The council scooped the gong at the prestigious annual awards in London on Tuesday (6 March) for its bumper year including:

  • the opening of The Lexicon in September – our new £240 million social, economic and cultural heart - which has already received more than 8 million visits since opening 6 months ago
  • Coral Reef Waterworld – one of the South’s most iconic water parks was officially re-opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex in November after a £13.3 million refurbishment
  • our extensive transformation programme, which is reviewing all council activities to provide more modern and effective services for residents at a reduced cost - the programme has identified £7 million of savings in less than 2 years and is well on track to meet its £11.5 million savings target by 2020
  • securing £3.29 million of funding from the Department for Transport to transform Downshire Way into a dual carriageway
  • Ofsted rating our children’s services as ‘good’ with ‘outstanding features’, meaning Bracknell Forest’s families and children receive some of the best support in the country
  • the Care Quality Commission (CQC) praising the way we work with health partners to support vulnerable residents – with other councils now learning from us
  • Forestcare, the council’s emergency response service, being rated as ‘good’ by the CQC
  • the council’s early help targeted youth support service was recognised as one of the best nationally by Brook and the Family Planning Association for its innovative relationships and sex education (RSE) programme for the borough’s young people aged 11 to 19

Bracknell Forest secured the top spot ahead of Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Councils and Winchester City Council – which were also shortlisted in the Council of the Year category.

Cllr Paul Bettison, Leader of Bracknell Forest Council, said:

“I am beyond delighted with the council being crowned Council of the Year 2018. It is a true testament to the hard work and determination of the council’s staff and councillors in making Bracknell Forest a great place to live, work and visit.

“We’ve achieved so much in the past 12 months including launching a new £240 million town centre with Bracknell Regeneration Partnership, a £13.3 million redevelopment of Coral Reef Waterworld, fantastic Ofsted results for both our adults and children’s services and much more. All of this has been achieved against a really challenging financial backdrop.

“As chairman of iESE, I was unable to have any part in the voting process, so I’m humbled that my peers felt that Bracknell Forest was the worthy recipient of the prestigious top award and is the best council in the UK.”

As well as Council of the Year, Bracknell Forest also picked up a GOLD award for Community Regeneration – celebrating the opening of The Lexicon and the work of the council alongside its development partner, Bracknell Regeneration Partnership.

The award recognises that by working together, the council and BRP were able to completely transform Bracknell town centre through the launch of The Lexicon in September to provide a social and cultural heart for the borough. It also recognises that The Lexicon is just one part of the town’s overall regeneration with more exciting phases yet to come.

Cllr Marc Brunel-Walker, executive member for economic development and regeneration, said:

“It’s fantastic that The Lexicon has been nationally recognised again, this time by public sector transformation experts. I think it’s clear that The Lexicon really does provide the wonderful social and cultural hub that our residents and visitors have longed for and the next phases of development will only serve to complement it.”

Simon Russian, development manager for Legal & General on behalf of Bracknell Regeneration Partnership, said:

“We are delighted that Bracknell Forest Council has been recognised with this prestigious award. The Lexicon was the result of true collaboration between the public and private sector. The determination and tenacity of all concerned saw the plans turn into a reality.”

The iESE Public Sector Transformation Awards aim to celebrate the best in local public services. They look to recognise councils and other public sector organisations for innovatively transforming services and improving the lives of residents and local businesses.