Hackney Council worker up for award

Hackney Council’s Head of Waste Operations, John Wheatley, has made it through to the finals of the Council Worker of the Year Awards 2008.

John beat off competition from across the country to be short-listed for the Leadership category for his key role in increasing resident satisfaction by improving the frequency of refuse collections and improving street cleanliness.

John, who leads a 300-strong team, said: “Hackney’s streets are cleaner than ever and residents are more satisfied with the service we give them. We operate the greenest refuse fleet in London, and are continually looking at ways to improve the service we offer.

“These results could not have been achieved without the support of the whole team and from across the Council. We don’t come in to work to win awards, we come in to offer a high quality service to residents, but I am very proud to be short-listed for this award and to receive this recognition.”

Hackney’s streets are now officially ranked the 11th cleanest in London, having climbed 17 places in the rankings of London Councils by environmental charity ENCAMS.

Resident satisfaction with waste operations has improved by 21 per cent since 2003. This has been achieved using existing resources.

John started work as a road sweeper thinking about how things could be done differently, and worked his way up, putting his experience to good use.

He was recently given an award by residents of Stoke Newington in recognition of his outstanding contribution to improving the area and his great rapport with residents and officers.

Cllr Alan Laing, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Every time we consult our residents they tell us that clean streets are key to making Hackney a good place to live, which is why we’ve made this one of our top priorities. We have already achieved great results, but we are not complacent and will continue to work to make Hackney a cleaner, greener place.

“I’d like to thank John and the street cleansing and waste services for their hard work and dedication and for going the extra mile to keep Hackney clean.”

Jeremy Vine, BBC presenter and Council Worker of the Year Awards host, said: “Council workers so often get blamed for everything, even the stuff that wasn t their fault. These awards are fantastic because they show the standards that are being set by people who really understand what public service is. It s not about politics, it s sheer hard work that will scoop these awards - on a good day a local council can connect with voters in a way that Westminster and Brussels really struggle to."

The Local Council Worker of the Year Awards are run by the Local Government Channel, in association with the Local Government Association.

From an unprecedented 350 entries, 41 finalists from local councils across the UK have been short-listed for seven awards – innovation, leadership, care and commitment, lifetime service, team of the year, bravery, and flood response.

Winners will be announced by BBC presenter Jeremy Vine at a gala dinner on 3 July at the BIC Centre, Bournemouth.

There are more details about John Wheatley and the other finalists, including a short film of their work, online:

Anyone is eligible to vote by visiting the website or by sending a text message – details are available on the website.