A COUNCIL has been shortlisted for two awards recognising the best and most innovative councils in the country.

Colchester Council has been shortlisted for two awards in the prestigious Association for Public Service Excellence Service Awards 2021.

More than 320 entries were submitted to award organisers with the council being shortlisted in two categories - Best Service Team of the Year and Best Community and Neighbourhood Initiative.

The council’s waste management and recycling service has been shortlisted in the Team of the Year category in recognition of the efforts to provide an outstanding service throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and the team’s continual improvement to develop a sustainable service for the future.

The Together We Grow Communities project has been shortlisted in the Best Community and Neighbourhood Initiative category in recognition of the partnership work with not-for-profit social enterprise Together We Grow CIC.

The partnership has worked together planting trees in communities as part of the Colchester Woodland and Biodiversity Project.

As the pandemic meant last year’s scheduled public planting days could not go ahead, they worked with Refugee Action Colchester to develop a project giving refugees the chance to connect with nature.

Overall, the group helps to plant more than 14,000 trees across the borough and has led to creating community tree guardians who will watch over the trees as they grow.

Simon Crow, Colchester Council portfolio holder for environment and sustainability, said: “I am absolutely delighted that our efforts and those of our partners have been recognised.

“I would like to congratulate our staff involved, and participants, volunteers and staff from Refugee Action Colchester and Together We Grow CIC.

“The past 18 months have shown council frontline services play a pivotal role in supporting people of all ages with services from parks to collecting bins.

“Residents in Colchester can be assured we’re doing all we can to make sure that they have local services of which they can be proud.”

Elizabeth Curry, volunteer and community coordinator for Refugee Action Colchester, said: “Our involvement with the project was very important to a group of refugees and asylum seekers who saw this as an opportunity to give something back to the community that has accepted and supported them.”