Stratford District Council wins Beacon Status for Digital Inclusion

This article is 15 years old


Published on 4 March 2009
Archived on 4 April 2009

Sadiq Khan MP last night awarded Stratford-on-Avon District Council Beacon status for their outstanding work in Digital Inclusion. The District Council walked away with a share of £3m government funding to expand their work and help other councils achieve the same success.

The Beacon awards recognise local governments excellence and innovation in improving quality of life for their residents and communities.

Beacon award winners Cllr Les Topham, Leader of Stratford District Council said: It is a tremendous achievement that a small District Council has achieved this accolade of Beacon status recognising excellence in local government.  In our case it is a reward for the collective effort between the District Council and its partners*, members and officers.  This is also the first beacon award for a Warwickshire local authority.

Our Theme - The Virtual District
The District Councils application is based on the Virtual District project that aims to improve the delivery of services, extend the range of facilities, and improve the accessibility of local public services. Local residents will be able to communicate with the Council and its partners from a variety of different locations including their homes, local supermarkets and hospitals. The Virtual District programme will also enable visitors from around the world to book, transact and even to live the experience before they arrive in our District.

*The Virtual District partners include: Warwickshire County Council, Coventry and Wolverhampton Universities, BT, Stratford College, NHS Direct, NHS Warwickshire, Warwickshire Police and the Hub@Blackwell.

Stratford District Council and the other Beacon councils for this theme will now work together, with the support of the Improvement and Development Agency, using a range of learning activities to help improve standards in all authorities in this area.

Sadiq Khan, Communities Minister comments, "My congratulations go out to Stratford District Council. The Beacons are about showcasing the very best in service delivery, and in this, their final year, we really have seen some exceptional examples of Digital Inclusion. Stratford District Council is among the top performers in their field, setting the standard for innovation, service excellence and improvement. With the added emphasis on economic recovery in this years Beacons, the winners are ideally placed to share their knowledge and skills to improve the sector as a whole. 

Marianne Hood, chair of the Beacons Panel continues, Being awarded Beacon status means that Stratford District Council will receive recognition, from national government and other authorities, for its expertise in the Digital Inclusion Theme.  I will be closely following the work that the Beacon authorities carry out, and wish them the very best of luck, in their new role sharing knowledge and supporting improvement.

The digital inclusion category, sponsored by Becta, recognises those authorities working with the people in their community to give them access to the internet and other technology. By tackling digital exclusion, they are improving job opportunities, health, and quality of life for local people. 

The Beacon Scheme is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and the programme is managed at the Improvement and Development Agency for local government. This year, the independent Beacon panel received 125 applications (involving 159 authorities), and using an extensive judging process, they whittled this number down to a shortlist of 62.

The Government established the Beacon Scheme in 1999 to identify excellence in local government and enable best practice to be shared with others.
The 12 themes against which Round 10 awards were made are as follows:

1. After dark: managing the night-time economy

2. Digital Inclusion: tackling exclusion and promoting life chances (sponsored by Becta)

3. Cohesive and resilient communities

4. Homes for the future

5. Cutting red tape: delivering real economic and social benefit through better regulation (sponsored by the Local Better Regulation Office)

6. Olympic Games and Paralympics legacy: using the opportunity of hosting the Games to encourage communities to be more active

7. Positive engagement of older people to support and promote greater independence and well-being in later life (sponsored by Stannah Group)

8. Preventing and tackling child poverty (sponsored by Action for Children)

9. Strategic commissioning

10. Supporting independent living for disabled adults

11. Raising economic prosperity through partnerships (sponsored by Interserve)

12. Better outcomes for people and places

In this, the 10th round of the scheme, 43 Beacon awards have been given to 56 authorities, from an original pool of 125 applications involving 159 authorities. 62 applications were shortlisted for this years awards, involving 79 different authorities, seven of whom were Best Value authorities.

£3 million has been allocated for the active promotion of all the good practice identified during this round. This will cover dissemination activities including learning events, open days and peer support.

Beacon status is awarded to best value authorities representing the diversity of local government urban and rural, unitary and two-tier, and from different parts of the country. The scheme is relevant to all kinds of authorities, including fire, transport and police authorities.

The Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) will work with the successful authorities to organise bespoke learning events and activities
An independent Advisory Panel makes recommendations to Ministers on the selection of Beacon authorities in each round. Ministers across the Government then make final decisions.

For further information on the Beacon Scheme please visit

Contact details

Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Stratford-on-Avon, Warwickshire,
CV37 6HX
Tel: 01789 267575

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