Torbay Council's Cllr Alison Hernandez has won 'Online Councillor of the Year' at the 2012 LGiU (Local Government information Unit) and CCLA Cllr Achievement Awards.
Now in their third year, the Cllr Achievement Awards are established as the only national ceremony to recognise and reward the fantastic work of councillors from across all political parties.
In summing up her achievements the LGiU said: "In addition to maintaining a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Cllr Hernandez has used social media to promote local democracy and participation in local government. This was seen most clearly in her successful encouragement of more citizen-led journalism through community blogging sites. Cllr Hernandez has also worked tirelessly to engage local businesses and residents in full council debates through Facebook and Twitter; consequently, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of residents involved in these council meetings.
"In addition to Cllr Hernandez’s ability to “create a buzz” around local politics, the judges liked the fact that she could point to concrete “real-world” outcomes from her use of social media. For example, a derelict area was transformed into an award-winning park due to the engagement of local residents in a Facebook group and online survey initiated by Cllr Hernandez."
Cllr Hernandez, who is also Executive Lead for Involved and Healthy Communities, said: “It's great to be able to raise Torbay's profile nationally in relation to our efforts to use modern technology and counteract the perception that we are only a retirement area and out of touch. By using social media I have actively been able to engage with families and younger people across the Bay.
"I am not an expert in the online arena and this award goes to show what a huge difference you can make with a bit of effort and support from partners. It has been a privilege to work with people in Torbay who do have the expertise and I would like to thank them for their time."