News article entitled Council teams named finalists in national awards recognising local government excellence

Awards nominations for two council teams

Published: 11/12/2020

Two council teams have been named as finalists in the prestigious Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) awards.

Aspire were named in the Best Service Team of the Year: Parks, Grounds and Horticultural Service section; and the Cemeteries team was shortlisted in the Best Service Team of the Year: Cemetery and Crematorium Service category.

The nomination for Parks, Grounds and Horticultural Service recognised Aspire’s hard work across the whole borough, developing themselves into a one stop shop for all the council’s landscape management needs. With the team in-house there are significant financial savings for the council, and a more attractive borough for everyone to enjoy.

The team’s continual improvement and learning was also highlighted. Where they didn’t have the skills needed to carry out a job to support colleagues, they took the initiative and underwent the required professional training to widen the range of jobs they can offer, meaning the team can additionally now resurface playparks, line carparks and carry out the full range of arboricultural works and tree surgery.

The award application was submitted early in 2020, before the team were called upon to run the Ashford Response Depot distributing food aid to the most vulnerable at the height of the first COVID wave, a further example of their continual drive and commitment to the Ashford community.

The hard work and dedication of the Cemeteries team in dealing with increasing financial pressures and modernising the service formed the basis of the nomination for the Cemetery and Crematorium Service shortlisting. The team has had excellent feedback from relatives and funeral directors who have used the service.

The team is dealing with an increasing population which is aging, which has an impact on the borough’s cemetery capacity. Through adapting areas, repurposing some sites, relandscaping and altering layouts, they have addressed some of the capacity issues. They continue to receive excellent feedback for their services from those who use them.

APSE Chief Executive Paul O’Brien said: “These finalists are amongst the best in local government. Showing ingenuity and dedication to local government frontline services they are all deserving of their place. The APSE Service Awards are uniquely placed to recognise the enormous effort and dedication of these vital frontline services and the value of the unsung public sector heroes who deliver these services, day in and day out, to local communities. Congratulations to all the finalists for 2020.”

Cllr Andrew Buchanan, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Land Management, said: “We are lucky to have a first-class environmental services department who do a fantastic job across the whole borough. The fact that the Cemeteries team and Aspire have been named as finalists in these national awards is no surprise. Well done to both teams, I wish them well on the night.”

The winners will be announced at an online award ceremony on Wednesday 16 December.