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Council Celebrates Double Win at NILGA Awards

19 February 2010

North Down Borough Council topped two categories at the 2009 Northern Ireland Local Government Awards announced on Thursday evening (19 February 2010).  The Council’s Grounds Maintenance Manager, Ian Beaney, was recognised as the Local Government Employee of the Year and the Council’s annual Visible Women event, run in partnership with Ards Borough Council, won the Women in Local Council’s category.  Bangor Castle Walled Garden was a finalist for Best Improvement Project. 

Mayor of North Down, Councillor Tony Hill attended the awards event and commented: “It is incredibly exciting and rewarding to have secured these accolades and I am delighted that the hard work of all the officers involved in these areas of our work has been publicly recognised.   

“My warmest congratulations go to Ian Beaney on becoming the Local Government Employee of the Year.  Ian is responsible for the Council’s Grounds Maintenance Section and the management of a number of public spaces including parkland, woodland and most recently the Council’s flagship Walled Garden in Castle Park, Bangor.  It is a very public facing Section, whose work is open to scrutiny from residents and visitors alike. 

“Under Ian’s leadership the Section has gone from strength to strength in recent years; delivering a superb open space service to the Borough, demonstrating an innovative approach to all horticultural pursuits and increasing engagement with ratepayers via an effective programme of public education.  The Council is regularly complimented on the management of its outdoor spaces and in 2009 has received an unprecedented level of success in local and national horticultural awards schemes.

“Much of this has been achieved thanks to Ian’s vision and expertise and the Council is fortunate to have such a dedicated officer in its employment.” 

Ian Beaney has worked in public horticulture for 31 years, the last 14 spent at North Down Borough Council.  He commented: “It is gratifying to have been nominated by Council for this award and very surprising to have actually won it.  All that I am able to do for grounds maintenance in North Down depends on the support of the team I work with and I would like to thank all of them for their hard work and enthusiasm.” 

The Council also secured an award for its annual Visible Women event, now in its 5th year, run in partnership with Ards Borough Council.  Councillor Marion Smith is actively involved in the organisation and commented: “Visible Women aims to inspire women, whether personally or professionally, to take a leading role in public life and make a contribution to private, public and voluntary/community sector organisations.  It has become hugely popular and although offering 250 places is over subscribed every year. 

“I am delighted that it has been recognised by the Local Government Awards and would like to thank all those who have contributed to making it a success—our many superb speakers, charity partners, businesses that have contributed ballot prizes and, of course, our many enthusiastic delegates. 

“Delivering Visible Women has allowed staff from both North Down and Ards Borough to work together, share learning and push new boundaries.  This has proved particularly beneficial as the two Councils prepare to merge under Local
Government Reform.”    

Chief Executive of North Down Borough Council, Trevor Polley added: “Officers across all sections of the Council put in great energy and enthusiasm to delivering key services and projects for the ratepayers of North Down.  These awards allow us to showcase just some of our efforts and I am delighted that the work of our staff in grounds maintenance and those involved with Visible Women has been recognised this year.  We will, of course, seek to build on this success with more innovative projects producing more winning entries for next year’s awards.”

The Northern Ireland Local Government Awards showcase the best examples of service provision, new initiatives and personal commitment from councillors and officers.  The judging panels look for evidence of best practice, innovation and service improvement while providing better outcomes for the service users.  With almost 70 submissions for just 10 awards, the judges this year had a tough job choosing winners.  This goes to show that councils across Northern Ireland are going the extra mile to deliver services to citizens and communities.

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