The Leader of North Kesteven District Council, Marion Brighton, has been awarded for her lifetime achievement in local government.
A councillor for 43 and a half years – more than half of her age – Coun Brighton was named on Tuesday night as winner of the Local Government Information Unit’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016.
The more I have got into it, the more interesting it becomes.Coun Marion Brighton
Although unable to attend the London Guildhall ceremony and accept the award herself, she said she was ‘very humbled and honoured to have been selected from among a field of outstanding and inspirational councillors’.
Her service to North Kesteven District Council and the wellbeing of its residents extends back to April 1973.
A rare woman in a man’s world, she was determined to make a difference right from the outset, as she helped to shape the emerging authority which officially came into being in 1974.
Along the way she has successfully defended 12 elections, enjoyed 15 years of continuous leadership and been chairman of the council twice, spanning a total of three years.
Public service has been a constant in her life, even through recent illness and bereavement while in office as the council’s first woman chairman in the early 1980s; insisting that it was her council work and the chance ‘to get things done’ that carried her through.
In that time her zeal and desire to do things differently has seen her pioneer a range of initiatives and partnerships: being one of the first to champion wheeled bins; a new era of council house building; significant leisure investment when others were cutting back; a vast community arts outreach; and shaping and leading on a number of national policy initiatives for the benefit of rural areas.
Along the way she has earned significant respect and admiration on national tourism bodies and regional agencies and colleagues from other councils speak of her ‘outstanding contribution to local government over many years’, her ‘lifetime determination to do the best for her community’ and ‘sincere commitment to the North Kesteven area’.
In her nomination they reflected on her ‘guidance’, her determination ‘to provide the best service of any Lincolnshire authority to its taxpayers’, her ‘vision, relentless resolve and advocacy, delivered with good grace and clarity’.
North Kesteven District Council chief executive Ian Fytche has worked closely with her over the past eight years, saying that her nomination and ultimate success were ‘richly deserved rewards for decades of dedication, determination and diligent care’.
“As the judges noted in their assessment of her nomination, the essence of North Kesteven District Council and public service run through to Coun Brighton’s core and I congratulate her most sincerely on this accolade conferred on her by her peers,” he said.
LGiU chief executive Jonathan Carr-West told the 200-odd guests at the ceremony: “With 43 years of service, Coun Brighton has devoted half of her life to serving her local area. Judges commended her length of time as Leader, noting that not only was it time well-served, but time served well; inspiring, influencing and continuing to pioneer new projects.
“The 2016 Councillor Award winners showcase the best of the best across local government. These are the councillors who are working tirelessly to make our communities better places to live and it is such a privilege to honour their achievements. We congratulate Coun Brighton on her outstanding work and look forward to hearing more about her future accomplishments as she continues her work.”
Reflecting on her success Coun Brighton said she owed the council a huge debt of gratitude for providing a focus following her husband Brian’s death in 1982.
“My husband thought it would be a nice little interest for me to be on the council, and how right he was. The more I have got into it, the more interesting it becomes; and that is still the case today as we respond to fresh challenges and seek to meet resident needs.
“One of our strengths as a council is that we’re not driven by politics; and another is that we have some excellent long-serving members and officers who can draw on the past to inspire and innovate services for the future and support strong, resilient, flourishing communities.”