Rugby council has become the first of its kind to retain the ‘excellent’ standard for equality – while remaining the only local authority of its type to ever meet the grade.
The award recognises Rugby Borough Council has a good understanding of the communities that it serves, and provides customer-focused services that meet their needs.
Equalities steering group chairman Cllr Derek Poole said: “I am extremely proud that Rugby is the first shire borough to have been awarded the ‘excellent’ rating by the review team.
“Here at Rugby we are focused on delivering great services that are tailored to each and every resident and business, no matter who they are or what their need may be.
“Not only does this mean that we comply with the equality act, but it also results in better services for everyone.
“I am thrilled that this unique way of doing things has, again, been recognised for delivering great services for our residents.
“We have already offered to share our success with other councils: whether they are a county council, unitary authority, metropolitan borough or shire district, I am more than happy to show them the Rugby way.”
A team of independent reviewers coordinated by the Local Government Association gave the award after visiting the council over a two-day period earlier this week.
They met councillors and staff delivering services first-hand, and representatives from partner authorities, plus voluntary and community organisations.
They found an organisation that has responsive, flexible services, and staff with a ‘can do’ attitude who were focused on delivering excellent services.
They found numerous examples of ways that the council had worked effectively with communities and tailored services to suit their requirements, including:
• providing female-only housing for single women whose circumstances make them vulnerable;
• leading on a county-wide “trailblazer” project to tackle the causes of homelessness in Warwickshire;
• offering work experience placements for young people with learning disabilities, leading in some cases to successful applications for apprenticeships and opportunities to live independently;
• improving access to quality parks and open spaces, leading to a measurable and significant increase in physical activity and mental wellbeing;
• advising residents in vulnerable communities on energy efficiency, leading to clearer choices on energy supply rates for all residents, plus successful applications for ‘warm home’ discounts worth £140 each for qualifying residents.
The review also found that staff and councillors have access to comprehensive information about the communities they serve, and a good understanding of how different communities have different needs.
Councillors are effective community ambassadors who enjoy making a difference for individuals that they work with, the review said.
Executive director Adam Norburn told staff: “Officers, councillors and partners from across council services have contributed to this review, and I would like to thank all of them for their help and support.
“Ultimately, however, the review is an assessment of the ‘can do’ attitude that all of you as front line and support staff display, focusing as you always do on the needs of our customers. Well done everyone.”
The review team will issue a full report on their findings later in the year. Once published it will be available on the council website.