Farnham Town Council has won the 2021 Council of the Year award.
The National Association of Local Councils (NALC) present Star Council Awards in recognition of local (i.e. town and parish) council contributions to their communities. This year the awards focussed on projects that made a positive impact on communities in the context of Covid-19.
This is what the NALC had to say about our council.
Farnham Town Council has a proven track record of creativity, innovation, partnership and collaboration. Achievements in 2020 show significant success despite uncertainties and challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The town council formed the Farnham Coronavirus Coordinating Group (now continuing as Farnham Connects) with a community-based cultural organisation the Farnham Maltings and other community groups. It created a safeguarded framework and coordinated five hundred volunteers who managed a helpline and community response supporting over 1,800 people with shopping, prescription collections and friendly phone calls. The objective was to create sustainable long-term community-based support and it has evolved into Farnham Neighbours Network. Alongside this, the Farnham Coronavirus Support Fund was established raising £67,000 to support residents facing pandemic hardship. The town council’s staff built a temporary COVID-19 assessment centre at Farnham Hospital in April 2020 enabling those with COVID-19 symptoms to be separated from other patients and over two hundred Farnham Town Council volunteers have underpinned the successful vaccine rollout.
The high street was supported through a new partnership with We Are Farnham, a digital marketplace for local shops, and regular updates were sent to all businesses with information on a range of support.
Farnham Town Council, working alongside Surrey County Council, installed planters in the town centre to widen pavements for social distancing. This was part of the award-winning Farnham In Bloom, which planted 26,000 plants and two hundred hanging baskets in the town and surrounding villages, and again won Gold in several categories and an invitation to Britain in Bloom 2021. Community participation underpins Farnham in Bloom and Farnham Town Council organised lockdown activities including creating a Lego garden, making scarecrows, an art project and a Secret Gardens competition and COVID-19-compliant volunteer opportunities.
The town council reshaped its programme of events within COVID-19 rules including:
- Farmers’ Markets restarted in June 2020 with social-distancing measures in place (a model followed by other market organisers) and additional art and craft markets were held to support the re-opening of the high street;
- Music in the Meadow, restarted in August – the only free live music programme locally setting a benchmark for outdoor music.