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Oxfordshire councils and police partners win top award for business support during the pandemic

Businesses in Oxfordshire can be confident they are receiving the highest standards of support from all the local councils and the police after the county’s regulatory teams won a hotly contested and prestigious award.

A combined nomination was made by Oxfordshire’s Regulatory Partners to the Office for Product and Safety Standard’s national awards (2021). The county council’s trading standards team and regulatory teams from Oxford City Council, Cherwell District Council, South Oxfordshire District Council, Vale of White Horse District Council and West Oxfordshire District Council as well as Thames Valley Police have joined forces to support businesses and co-ordinate compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At an online ceremony, the Oxfordshire Regulatory Partners bid was selected as the winning entry beating off the shortlisted competition throughout the country.

Councillor Neil Fawcett, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and Safety, said: “National recognition for our services in Oxfordshire is valued at any time but it is particularly welcome for the professionals across all of our councils and partner agencies who have gone the extra mile to support local businesses in this exceptionally difficult period.

“Business have had to operate in an incredibly difficult environment since COVID-19 has been with us and against a backdrop of rules that have had to be regularly changed as we have moved through different phases of the pandemic. These rules were vital in our efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

“It is a real feather in the cap of every single person in our teams who have worked together and with businesses with real effort and integrity. I congratulate them all.”

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing at Cherwell District Council, said: This is a very well-deserved award and proves that we have been providing a high quality of service across Oxfordshire. All of Oxfordshire’s councils have worked together incredibly closely to give business the support they need and deserve and I know that has been appreciated in north Oxfordshire.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism, Oxford City Council said: “I am delighted that this partnership has been awarded this prestigious award. The pandemic has been an extremely difficult period for businesses, and I am immensely proud of the work of both City Council officers, and our partners to help deliver clear advice and support. The work of this partnership of authorities has undoubtedly helped to keep us all safe from the virus.”

Councillor Norman MacRae, Cabinet Member for the Environment at West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “This category had the most nominations so this is a fantastic achievement reflecting all the hard work our team have put into working with businesses and ensuring our partnership with the other Oxfordshire authorities continues to strengthen.

“The way everyone has pulled together and worked across the county has been inspirational, building relationships which will be of great benefit in future.”

Councillor Helen Pighills, Vale of White Horse District Council, cabinet member for healthy communities, said: “This award is well deserved and recognises the hard work put in by so many of our staff to safeguard the health of people across Oxfordshire.”

Councillor David Rouane, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for housing and environment, said: “The teams have been working to the highest standards as they have supported businesses and residents adapting to the pandemic and we are very pleased this has been acknowledged by this national award.”

Paul Scully MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Minister for London provided the opening address at the online event before videos were shown highlighting the work of the finalists.

The judging panel was chosen for their breadth of knowledge and expertise from across the regulatory field.

The Oxfordshire bid beat off competition from Business Regulatory Support (Cornwall Council), Primary Authority Supermarket Health and Safety Covid Expert Panel, Chorley and South Ribble Council, Hertfordshire Better Business for All – Covid19 Business Guidance Group, Heart of the South West Better Business for All, Lichfield District Council and Central England Co-op, Environmental Health and Trading Standards Covid19 Expert Officer Group – ETC19 and Directors of Public Protection Wales.