Hackney wins prestigious Place of the Year award

Hackney won this year’s prestigious Local Government Chronicle Place of the Year Award last week (24th March) for its focus on partnership working and strong community leadership which “makes a real difference on the ground”, according to the citation. The award was one of three this year, making Hackney the “biggest winner”.

Falling crime, a reduction in health inequalities, nine green flags for Hackney’s parks and green spaces, best-ever educational achievements, town centre developments now taking place in Dalston and Hackney Wick, and a rising employment rate, all contribute towards making Hackney a place where people want to live in and visit.

According to the LGC’s Emma Maier: “The biggest winner was Hackney LBC who took home three awards… (winning) Place of the Year for their ability to demonstrate again and again how their focus, partnerships, strategic and political leadership has made a real difference on the ground.” Hackney Council also won the awards for Children’s Services and Employee Engagement and was highly commended as Council of the Year.

Hackney provided evidence for grassroots improvement across six main areas:

•Safety: Crime has fallen by 40% in five years, the second largest drop in London. There were 10,000 fewer victims of crime last year than in 2005
•Education: Five new mixed secondary schools have been opened since 2005, and Hackney had the most improved GCSE results across the country in 2009.
•Employment: Hackney’s employment rate has risen by 13% in four years and is now within 0.5% of the London average, having been historically low.
•Health inequalities: In 1998, Hackney s teenage pregnancy rate was 65% above the national average. Since then, rates have fallen by more than a quarter, a downward trend which is among the most marked and consistent in the country.
•Customer service: 27 partners in Hackney have signed up to a joint customer service pledge to resource and monitor the “No Wrong Door” signposting service.
•Public satisfaction: Since 2007, resident satisfaction has risen from 60% to 72%, double the average increase for London.
Ian Ashman, Principal of Hackney Community College, and an active participant in Team Hackney, the Local Strategic Partnership, took part in the presentation to judges for the Place of the Year Award. He said: “I have been a Hackney resident for 20 years and we chose to live here because it is an exciting, vibrant and mixed community. Hackney’s getting better but at the same time its unique character is thriving and growing. Whether it’s me running an improving college, or using the great leisure facilities, or my sons at clubs in trendy Hoxton, we’re delighted to be in Hackney – it’s a fantastic place to live and work.”

Tim Shields, Hackney Council’s Chief Executive, and co-Chair of Team Hackney’s Safer Cleaner Partnership, said: “The Place of the Year Award recognises the tremendous spirit of all the participants in Team Hackney, who dedicate their time and energy to finding ways to make Hackney a better place to live and work in, and to visit. This will become increasingly important as Hackney becomes better connected with the rest of London, and indeed, the country and the world, as we prepare to welcome the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.