Last week the shortlist was announced by the LGiU for the Age UK Pride of Place Award. The award, which is one of the LGiU and CCLA C’llr Achievement Awards 2012, recognises a councillor who has taken the lead in championing the voices of older people in their patch and made a real commitment to improving neighbourhoods for them.
The shortlisted councillors are:
- Councillor Sue Cooley (Manchester City Council)
- Councillor Edward Davie (London Borough of Lambeth Council)
- Councillor Olwen Foggin (Devon County Council)
- Councillor Robert Johnston (Winchester City Council)
- Councillor Howard Murray (Poynton Town Council)
Each of them, in very different ways and very different areas, has shown real commitment to listening to the views and needs of older people and then bringing about long-term change to their areas.
As I have highlighted on this blog over the last year, good neighbourhoods are key to helping older people get out and about and stay active as they get older. Things like broken pavements, street lights which don’t work, and public transport which isn’t accessible or available at all, place barriers in the way of people who want to stay active as they grow older.
The key insight of Age UK’s Pride of Place campaign is that local elected members have a pivotal role to play in bringing about neighbourhood improvements. They are the only people with both the local knowledge and the democratic accountability.
Through the campaign, nearly 200 councillors have demonstrated their commitment to improving neighbourhoods by signing up as Pride of Place advocates.
This week we also held the first of five support sessions for these advocates. It was a lively session where we exchanged ideas and wrestled with problems such as how to provide accessible public toilets in the current financial climate and how to influence public transport providers. A recurrent theme was the importance of getting communities involved in solving their own problems.
The good news in all this is that change is possible – as the five shortlisted councillors show, improvements can happen. The award winner will be announced at a ceremony at Westminster City Council on 27 February: watch this space.
And if you are a councillor who wants to bring about improvements to your local area, why not sign up as a Pride of Place advocate now?