There was cause for celebration this week as Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council received a prestigious award for public service.
The council picked up the accolade for Best Community and Neighbourhood Initiative at the Association for Public Services Excellence (APSE) ceremony.
The local authority was presented with the gong after being nominated for the work carried out at the Valley Park Shared Space Project, V36.
The facility was constructed on an area of land which was under-utilised and contested space, characterised by sectarian violence and anti-social behaviour. The council transformed the area, creating a state-of-the-art facility which is home to an adventure playground, civic linear park and 3G pitch which is used for numerous sports including football, rugby and Gaelic.
The project has encouraged people from all backgrounds to come together through sport, recreation and arts-based activities and delivered significant improvements to the community and neighbourhood.
The UK-wide APSE awards were held in the Foyle Arena in Londonderry on September 8 and recognised excellence in public service delivery by local authorities. There was stiff competition, with over 320 entries from councils across the UK, who were in contention for 22 awards. The council were the only winners from NI and were also shortlisted for two other awards. The two shortlisted awards were Best Efficiency and Transformation Initiative for the Change Programme and Best Service Team, Parks, Ground and Horticultural for Antrim Castle Gardens Gardening Team.
Commenting on the success, Mayor, Cllr John Scott said: “We’re incredibly proud to have delivered this fantastic facility with the help of £3.8m EU PEACE III funding and even prouder for this project to have gained the UK-wide recognition it deserves. I’d like to thank everyone involved in the success of V36, from the project team, architects, contractors, through to those in our community who helped bring it to life. A special thanks must go to the council team who co-ordinated and delivered this imaginative project. Our hope is this unique space will continue to bring communities together.”