Planning time-saver wins council national award

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An initiative to speed up the planning process has won Aylesbury Vale District Council a national efficency award.

The council was awarded gold in the transforming local services category at the Improvement and Efficiency Awards 2014 held in London.

It was one of the first councils to introduce the Householder Extension Local Development Order, which can be used for most extensions on detached and semi-detached houses.

It speeds up the planning process from eight weeks to around two weeks.

The council also won a silver award in the delivering through efficiency category for its ‘new business model’ work – a three pronged approach of income generation, service change and investments. For example, it has generated more than £107,000 in 2013/14 through hiring out its facilities and around £450,000 by charging for garden waste to be collected.

Councillor Neil Blake, leader of the council, said: “I think these awards provide excellent further recognition for all the hard work of councillors and officers to improve the organisation over the last few years.

“In these times of austerity we are having to look at being more innovative in our approach while still ensuring that we offer services of the highest quality. There’s no doubt that there are huge challenges ahead, with cuts to our funding from central government, but I’m confident we can continue to improve key services and raise the profile of the district.”

Bucks County Council won silver in the ‘council of the year’ category. It was also shortlisted for its work to deliver the Armed Forces Covenant.

The awards are run by the Improvement and Efficiency Social Enterprise (iESE), which is owned, led and governed by councils.