TEST Valley Borough Council leader Phil North has praised the “hard work” of staff and fellow councillors at the authority, after it was named one of the best in the country in a UK-wide award scheme.

The council was chosen as one of the six finalists in the Local Authority of the Year category of the MJ Local Government Achievement Awards, held in London on Thursday last week.

Although the authority lost out to eventual winners, City of Wolverhampton Council, Councillor North said reaching the final was a “magnificent achievement” for TVBC.

He said: “To be a finalist in this award against much larger councils highlights success right across the organisation, demonstrating that Test Valley is performing to a high standard at a time of huge financial challenge for local government.

“It is testament to the hard work of all of our staff and councillors.”

Out of six finalists in this category TVBC was the only district level authority represented.

The council was selected from over 400 submissions across the 14 award categories.

Its submission included examples of engaging with residents and investing in local communities.

The council also highlighted its Andover Vision and Romsey Future initiatives, as well as its use of technology to improve its interaction with residents.

Before being shortlisted as one of the finalists, the former leader, Councillor Ian Carr, chief executive, Roger Tetstall, and corporate director, Carol Moore, presented the submission in more detail to a panel of representatives from the MJ Awards.

TVBC was subsequently praised by judges for providing “innovative” and “excellent” services to residents and businesses.

Michael Burton, editorial director of the MJ Awards, said: “MJ Awards not only allow local authorities to be recognised for the delivery of their services over the last 12 months, but they also allow them to share their expertise with their peers.

“Each category is judged by influential commentators from the private and public sectors giving their organisation the chance to illustrate its ability, ingenuity and performance.”