Ashford aerial view
Ashford aerial view
Ashford Borough Council has been shortlisted in the prestigious 2018 LGC Awards, which are the biggest awards in the public sector. The Kent council has made the cut in both the entrepreneurial council of the year category, as well as the big one, the overall council of the year.
Chief Executive Tracey Kerly said: “We’re very happy to be shortlisted for the two categories we entered. We have a strong direction as an authority, which comes from our political leadership and our officers who work incredibly hard with both ambition and creativity to deliver results for the residents of Ashford.”
It is the council’s response to cuts in public expenditure that are perhaps most eye-catching. It has long-since taken the view that the period of cutting services is over. It now invests in assets to generate income streams and in its employees to oversee commercial agreements.
The council embraces change and is seeking to be self-sufficient by 2018-19. It has accepted growth by granting permission for the 5,750 homes at Chilmington Green, Ashford's largest ever planning application.
It shrewdly acquired International House (Ashford's largest office block), which is delivering a 12.6% return on investment. Ellingham industrial estate is returning 12.3%, among other assets.
A wholly-owned council property company was created, acquiring then letting properties. In 2016-17 this contributed £70,000 to the General Fund.
Here are some of the other points that have made Ashford stand out from its peers across the country:
Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “It’s pleasing to receive acknowledgement of this kind and we certainly have much to be proud of. However, this is just a milestone on our onward journey towards being a commercial, self-sufficient organisation. We are never complacent and still have much to do. We never lose sight of the fact that we are people serving people. Everything we are striving to achieve has at its heart our residents and the services we provide across the whole of our borough. Our submissions showed our innovation, professionalism and compassion and I hope that this resonates with our residents as we deliver the services that matter to them on a daily basis.”
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