Colchester Borough Council has been shortlisted for two awards in the prestigious Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Service Awards 2021 recognising the best and most innovative councils in the UK.
More than 320 submissions were submitted to award organisers with the council being shortlisted in two categories – Best Service Team of the Year and Best Community & Neighbourhood Initiative.
The council’s Waste Management & Recycling Service has been shortlisted in the Team of the Year category in recognition of the efforts to provide an outstanding service throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and the team’s continual improvement to develop a sustainable service for the future.
Throughout the pandemic the team took steps to protect staff and quickly trained up re-deployed staff from the council’s museums and leisure services to maintain the essential frontline service of collecting recycling and rubbish. Alongside this they have also used the latest technology to improve the customer online experience, rolled out an updated textile recycling collection in partnership with Essex Textiles and developed a new sustainable Click and Collect Service for distributing recycling equipment.
The ‘Together We Grow Communities’ project has been shortlisted in the Best Community & Neighbourhood Initiative category in recognition of the partnership work with not-for-profit social enterprise Together We Grow CIC. The partnership has worked together planting trees in communities as part of the Colchester Woodland & Biodiversity Project.
As the pandemic meant that last year scheduled public planting days could not go ahead, they worked with Refugee Action Colchester to develop a project giving refugees the chance to connect with nature and do some physical outdoor activity. Overall, the group helps to plant over 14,000 trees across the borough and has led to creating community ‘Tree Guardians’ who will watch over the trees as they grow.
Cllr Simon Crow, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability, said: “I am absolutely delighted that our efforts and those of our partners have been recognised by APSE in the shortlisting of these two prestigious awards. I would like to congratulate our staff involved, and participants, volunteers and staff from Refugee Action Colchester and Together We Grow CIC.
“The last 18-months have shown that local council frontline services play a pivotal role in supporting people of all ages with services from parks to collecting bins. Residents in Colchester can be assured that we’re doing all we can, albeit with ever decreasing resources, to make sure that they have local services of which they can be proud.”
Wayne Setford, Founder, Together We Grow CIC, said: “We can talk about nature, we can talk about biodiversity, and we can talk about how important trees are in this mix, but unless we have people engaged with our green landscapes, to look after them, nurture them and value them, then unfortunately we don’t have green landscapes. That’s why working with the council and Refugee Action Colchester on initiatives like this one is so important, and it’s fantastic that our partners, volunteers, participants and staff have been recognised through this award nomination.”
Elizabeth Curry, Volunteer and community coordinator- Refugee Action Colchester, said: “Our involvement with the Colchester Borough Council and Together We Grow tree-planting project was very important to a group of refugees and asylum seekers who saw this as an opportunity to work outdoors giving something back to the community that has accepted and supported them. They spoke of the pleasure of investing in the future and look forward to returning to those places and showing their children the progress of the project.”
The awards will be announced on 9 September.