Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Council Leader of the Year - a regular at our meetings

Councillor Graham Baxter MBE has been declared Council Leader of the Year in recognition of his dedication to ‘making a real difference to the lives of local people.'

The annual “Councillor Achievement Awards”, presented by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) are the top accolade for the country’s 20,000 councillors who serve over 400 district, county, city and metropolitan local authorities across England and Wales.

Cllr Baxter - who was described as 'visionary' by judges - has served as a member for Dronfield North on North East Derbyshire District Council for 28 years, and has been Leader of the Council since 2004.

The award recognises his transformational leadership which saw the council undergo rapid improvements, from being classed as ‘weak’ by the Government in 2004 to ‘excellent’ in 2008 - the fastest turnaround in local government history.

Since 2008 North East Derbyshire has twice between nominated as the country’s Most Improved Council at the national Local Government awards (in 2009 and 2011), and last week it announced plans to form an alliance with Bolsover District Council – sharing senior managers in a move that would enable both authorities to protect key frontline services in the light of cuts to their Government grants.

In presenting the award to Cllr Baxter at a ceremony in London on 8 February, Chief Executive of the LGiU Andy Sawford said: “He is a leader who has a belief in open government, community involvement and transformation. During his six years as leader he has shown strength of character and determination to provide excellent services that make a real difference to the lives of local citizens.

“The shortlist was exemplary, however the judges felt that of all the nominees Cllr Baxter’s leadership has brought about evidence of real transformation. He has really stepped up to the role of being Leader and brought clear vision to the Council.”

Cllr Baxter said: “This is a real honour but it would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of all councillors and officers at North East Derbyshire District Council.

“We have a great team approach at the council and this spirit will be crucial to the challenging months and years ahead as we focus on protecting services for local people in the light of the tough financial climate.”