Top award for councillor ‘with clear vision’

A DERBYSHIRE councillor has received the country’s top local government honour.

Coun Graham Baxter, who was awarded the MBE last year, has been declared Council Leader of the Year in recognition of his dedication to “making a real difference to the lives of local people”.

The annual Achievement Awards, presented by the Local Government Information Unit, are the top accolade for the 20,000 councillors across England and Wales.

Coun Baxter has been a Dronfield North member on North East Derbyshire District Council for 28 years and has led the council since 2004.

The award recognises his work in helping to transform the council from being classed as ‘weak’ by the Government in 2004 to ‘excellent’ in 2008 – the fastest turnaround in local government history.

LGIU chief executive Andy Sawford said: “He is a leader who has a belief in open government, community involvement and transformation.”

He added: “The shortlist was exemplary. However, the judges felt that of all the nominees Coun Baxter’s leadership has brought about evidence of real transformation. He has really stepped up to the role of being leader and brought clear vision to the council.”