The ADSO Awards 2014 took place at Birmingham City Football Club at a conference dinner on the evening of the first day of the conference.

It was the first time ADSO had held its own awards and it provided an opportunity to celebrate the success of those working within the sector, to share and showcase good practice and to recognise those individuals and teams who had gone the extra mile in carrying out their work.

Members will receive information regarding an evaluation of the awards process. The ADSO Board will review the findings and decide on the format and arrangements for Awards in future years.

The winners were as follows:

  • Democratic Services Professional of the Year – Kim Pocock, Nottingham City Council
  • Democratic Services Teams of the Year – Districts and Boroughs – Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council and Counties, Unitaries and Metropolitan’s – Norfolk County Council

Learners Zoe Crane, LB Islington and Amy McNulty, Waverley Borough Council were commended along with Andrea Thwaite.

You can find out more about some of winners by reading the case studies below:

ADSO Democratic Services Officer of the Year,  Kim Pocock – Nottingham City Council


 Kim Pocock, Constitutional Services Manager at Nottingham City Council, was nominated for her ‘outstanding contribution to Democratic Services’. She is credited by her manager, Debra Lamola, as invigorating Democratic Services with:

a desire to challenge, and remove, unnecessary bureaucracy

  • a sharper focus on customers’ needs (especially those operating in commercial environments)
  • encouragement to colleagues to be more ambitious and outward looking
  • a passion for driving up team and individual performance through clearer and more determined application of standards.

Kim leads by example and is generous in supporting her colleagues, coaching them and developing their talents. She was the first team member to join ADSO and immediately commenced the diploma programme which she completed in 16 months.

As part of her submission, Debra listed Kim’s other achievements as:

Establishing a new, plain English minute style  

  • Incorporation of public health into the Council’s Constitution
  • Administering a Schools Forum and developing a new Constitution for it
  • Overseeing the introduction of the system
  • Playing a key role in the Council’s Bureaucracy Busting project
  • Review of Councillor Induction programme
  • Proactive support of two Positive Action Training & Recruitment Agency (PATRA) trainees

Nottingham’s Chief Executive, Ian Curryer, endorsed her submission:

“I wholeheartedly recommend Kim as Democratic Services Officer of the Year. Her energy and commitment to the Council and to her ADSO studies are extraordinary. She has made a contribution to the authority, to Democratic Services’ customers and to her team’s performance on a scale which far belies the short time she has been in post and she is an exemplar of the professional, innovative and forward thinking officer that ADSO seeks to nurture and support.”

Debra La Mola, Kim’s manager,  explained what  winning the Award means:

‘Apart from believing that Kim Pocock thoroughly deserved to be recognised for her work, my motivation in nominating her as ADSOs Democratic Services Officer of the Year  was that this was an award offered and assessed by (and also presented amongst) our peers  – by colleagues across the UK who know the job inside out and the value of and challenges facing a modern Democratic Services Officer.  Not only has winning the award been good for Kim on a personal and career development level ( including taking up the prize of attendance at the 2015 IIMC conference in the USA) but the profile and confidence of the Democratic Services team at Nottingham City Council has benefited.’

Kim also shared her thoughts on winning the Award:

I was delighted to win the ADSO DSO of the year award.  I am committed to delivering modern, professional and efficient services to our councillors, colleagues and citizens and for challenging some of the traditional views of democratic services as old fashioned and obstructive!   I am supported in my approach by fantastic colleagues within the team and the award is a great way of recognising what we all do as well as raising our profile within the Council. 

Norfolk County Council Democratic Support Team, Team of the Year


 Norfolk’s submission started with a quote from retiring Democratic Services Manager, Susan Farrell: “The Democratic Support Team is an incredible group of people to work with and truly are my ‘Dream Team”.

The Team has undergone a major period of change over the last 18 months, and has come out of it smiling, positive, and having made serious efficiency savings. Their submission described a number of examples of their achievements including:

  •  Induction of 40 new Members, together with 44 returning Members, following the May 2013 elections which resulted in a Council in No Overall Control. The induction received fantastic feedback from new and returning Members
  •  Introduction of a new ‘e-Democracy initiative, moving to a paperless meetings format, with many of the team becoming ‘Superusers’ so that they could offer support to Members. The project has saved tens of thousands of pounds and, best of all, Members love their iPads
  •  A successful project to introduce an electronic Committee Management system, offering efficiencies by bringing together numerous systems of recording democratic information into one place. The transition to CMIS on 1st May 2014 was so seamless that Members were barely aware that there was a new system in place.
  • Not content with just rolling out e-Democracy and CMIS the Democratic Support Team has also had the added thrill of moving from a Cabinet system to a Committee model of governance, in just six months.

The above examples were backed up by some quotes from their Councillors:

“Whatever pressures members of this team face in preparing for meetings and carrying out their normal duties they step forward, literally, to ask if they can help, to offer advice and information – not simply responding but often anticipating needs. Without the support of this team life as a new councillor would have been far more difficult”. Dr Marie Strong, Group Leader, Liberal Democrats.

 “Having been a Norfolk County Councillor for 13 years, I have seen the Democratic Support Team grow and develop into the efficient team that they are today. The increased pressure on resources in local government means that they are constantly seeking better ways of working, both for the service and for councillors. I am personally grateful for everything that they have done for me as a councillor and now as Chairman” Mr Brian Hannah, Chairman, Norfolk County Council

Here is a quote from the winning team on what it meant to them:

Just being nominated by fellow officers and elected members was a great boost to team morale in what has been an incredibly busy period of great change. To have that recognition was important and reassured us that we were giving a service our customers valued. To win the award in itself was brilliant, but equally so was the external validation it gave to the work of the team. The award has been welcomed by officers and members alike and we have had many messages of congratulation.

 We would wholeheartedly hope that the award continues, to allow colleagues across the country to showcase their achievements and to provide a recognition of the work undertaken in what is very often a Cinderella service.