Headlines: May 5th, 2006

Six finalists have been named in the first Local Government Channel and LGA Employee of the Year Awards for public sector workers in England and Wales. The competition was launched to raise awareness of and celebrate the work of frontline local government staff.Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Chairman of the LGA, who headed the panel that drew up the shortlist, said, “We were really impressed with both the number of applications that we received and the calibre of the people being put forward by their colleagues.”

The Local Government Channel, which is on Sky 181, will show programmes about each of the finalists from next Monday until the LGA’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth from July 4th to 7th. The films will also be shown on the Community Channel from May 16th and they can be viewed online at http://www.thelocalgovernmentchannel.com/   . Supporters of the six will be able to vote for via the Internet or by texting LGA followed by the first name of their choice to 88600. The results will be announced at a ceremony on the final day of the conference.

All the finalists have been chosen for their hard work. Geoff Green is Special Service Librarian with Devon County Council and has for 36 years delivered library services to people who have difficulty getting to or using their local library. Sue Butler, Environmental Health Technical Officer, Gosport Borough Council has been shortlisted for her exceptional ability to relate to people of all ages, ensuring the success of initiatives such as Walking to Health for senior citizens, the Beach Safety Workshop and a Junior Citizen Project. Garry Atkins, the Senior Community Development Officer at Harrogate Borough Council was last year’s winner of the Regional Crime Beat Competition and has been congratulated by the police for his crime reducing work with young people. Lynne Debbazi, who is Jobs, Education and Training Business Coordinator at Liverpool City Council, recently secured jobs for 100 local unemployed people at a new Tesco store as well as increasing Sony’s recruitment of local people by 400 per cent. Julie Blagden is Neighbourhood Manager for Salford City Council and aims to improve the lives of local people by breaking down barriers and promoting social inclusion. She successfully mediated between three separate Yemeni groups to create one organisation to speak for all. Finally Lyndon Elsey, Assistant Registrar of Cemeteries and Crematoriums in the City and County of Swansea, has often been praised for going the extra mile. He recently helped one woman to trace her grandfather’s grave using municipal records, council archives, library and death certification, despite knowing only that he died in the 1940s or 50s.

Stephen Horn, CEO of hbl media and executive producer of The Local Government Channel, said, “Although the winner has yet to be named, the Employee of the Year Award has already proved to be a success in raising awareness of the hard work carried out by local government workers in the UK, so much so that we’ve already made the decision to turn our search for a public sector hero into an annual event.