Wiltshire Council has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award in recognition of its vanguard work to deliver community campuses and hubs.
Following deliberation by judges, the council has been nominated for a 2018 Local Government Chronicle Award in the Best Service Delivery Model category. The awards are the biggest and most prestigious for the local government sector. Nearly 100 organisations have been shortlisted as finalists in the coveted awards, which recognise the best of local government innovation and service delivery.
This recognition is based on work to develop and enhance local services in communities, which has seen the provision of three community campuses and a number of hubs – with more in development.
Community hubs in Calne, Malmesbury and Devizes have proven to be a huge success, evidencing how services such as the local library can be sustainable with the help of volunteers and flexible space for community and business use. The hubs also offer council and community services in one place, with access available outside of library opening hours.
Calne Community Hub and Library, which opened in September 2016, is being used by 39 local groups, and benefits from an out of hours system, which allows use of the facility at their convenience. The number of volunteers has increased by 30% and visitor numbers have increased by 12% compared to last year. In Malmesbury, the Riverside Community Centre opened in February 2017 and has quickly established itself as a ‘must-book venue’. The building offers a range of spaces, including four meeting rooms, a dedicated arts and crafts space, and a multi-use hall with a café area. The Devizes Community Hub and Library, which opened in July 2017, also has significant space available for the community, and it can accommodate more than 100 people. It has already seen its membership increase by 16% and visitor numbers increase by 60%.
John Thomson, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for communities and campuses, said: “Our community hub programme is a shining example of being innovative and flexible in a tough financial landscape, and I’m really pleased to see these hubs being recognised with this nomination.
“We are committed to providing our communities and residents with high quality services, delivered in a convenient and accessible way. We recognise that a community hub is a safe place for groups to come together and they are helping to combat isolation and loneliness that exists in local areas. We know that drop-in brunch clubs are extremely popular and more people are volunteering and getting involved and as a result new clubs and groups are emerging.”
LGC editor Nick Golding said: “To be shortlisted for an LGC Award shows a council service is among the country’s most innovative, and doing the most to support the needs of local residents as councils face continuing budget cuts. We should salute the council officers and councillors doing the most to ensure our vital public services thrive in the era of austerity.”
The award ceremony takes pace in London on 21 March 2018.