Local Land Charges Awards 2024

The Land Data Local Land Charges Awards for Excellence celebrate the very best in Local Authority Local Land Charges. Since 2008 these national awards have highlighted the work and achievements of Local Land Charges teams who carry out the land and property searches required for conveyancing transactions in England and Wales.

Venue

Fees and bookings

Best performing Searches Team Member

About the winner

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Evie Ward tells how good communication is the foundation for her winning nomination. 

My background is in planning which has really helped me to communicate with the planning team and translate the planning jargon! Our Local Land Charges team sits within the Development Management Team which is really useful for ensuring we are kept up to date and allows us to ask and answer questions directly. Our LLC team is small (just the two of us!) so we work closely together whilst communicating and meeting with other teams in the council to ensure the register is maintained accurately.   

I joined the LLC team in January 2023 and this award is my first big achievement in my career so I am very proud. It has really boosted my confidence as I start my career. My colleagues throughout the council have been incredibly supportive and this award has really put our team on the map!

In my spare time I love to tap dance and go on long walks with my dog Monty, the bonkers Labradoodle! I am currently completing a Masters degree in planning and my colleagues have been really supportive and accommodating with allowing me to adjust my working day around my studies.

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
Award sponsor
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Local Authority Searches Team of the Year

About the winner

Robin O'Brien, Local Land Charges Supervisor at Leicester City Council lifts the lid on his team's winning entry for Searches Team of the Year 2024.  

What's the secret to winning this award?  

I manage a very intuitive and hard-working team which are not afraid to challenge the status quo, and are willing to adapt and try new methods in order to ensure that we are producing our best work. A special mention should go to my previous supervisor Rayhan Chowdhury, who through his experiences working in other land charges teams helped to start pushing things forward when we were in lockdown. I then expanded on this work by using my experiences and understanding of data management which I gained when working in both Planning, street numbering and Building Control to develop new processes and improve on the existing ones. 

How do your team feel about winning this award?   

We have received congratulations from senior management and the city mayor, the team are very happy about this. 

Who makes up your team?   

I supervise a small team of three, Jaskiran, Tazamul and Nicholas, they all have varying degrees of experience with Leicester City Council, ranging from 5 years upwards.  

Interesting facts...one of us loves Doctor Who, one has his own allotment, one is a Manchester United supporter and one loves those Kardashians! 

What made you enter this award?   

My manager Barbara Hearst decided to enter the team on the back of the work which we had been doing over the past couple of years. I would say to any team who is thinking about entering "Do it!" Sometimes when you have been doing the same thing for years you lose appreciation of the work which you are doing. It is good to remind yourself that you are doing a great job and being shortlisted for an award is a good reminder. 

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
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Best Performing Migrated Local Authority

About the winner

Dawn Hale, Planning Business Support Manager at West Suffolk, tells the story behind her team's award.

What's the secret to winning this award?  

The quality of our data is good and that is down to hard work during our migration as well as the continuous vigilance of the Local Land Charges Team and the wider planning technical team who investigate and keep on top of any errors. Plus, we always review processes if required when an error is found. We have detailed procedures for everything that we do and ensure that plotting is as accurate as possible.  

The teams need to work together and understand how the work feeds into the Local Land Charges System. I am the Technical Team Manager, so I have a view across both teams which is helpful. Our Technical Team is extremely experienced with many years' service at either West Suffolk or other authorities. Working as a blended team helps us see the wider picture. 

How does your team feel about winning this award?  

The whole team are very proud of the award – we have worked hard to ensure our data pulls through as efficiently and accurately as possible. Sometimes Local Land Charges can be a forgotten service, so it makes others realise how important it is and how it personally impacts everyone when buying a house. 

Who makes up your team?  

We have two technical posts in the Land Charges team: Paula Alliston and Caroline Corrigan. Then a further team of eight planning technical posts who all work together: Mandy Orlopp, Alexa Burlow, Kylie Thompson, Hannah Blake, Hayley Rickard, Sophia Paraapanou, Suzy Parker, Rebbecca Bliss. I have worked in and across planning and LLC for 37 years and managed LLC team for ten years. 

Interesting facts?  

The combined length of service across the two teams is over 200 years! Paula will retire from Local Government soon after 40 years of service. She will be much missed.   

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
Award sponsor
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Best Performing NLIS Level 2 LLC Department

About the winner

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North Devon's Robert Bates explains what the Excellence Award means to him and his team. 

What's the secret to winning this award?
 

We have won it 7 times in the last 11 years, and I think our secret is a simple one: consistency. Speed is important in any transaction but there also has to be accuracy. This negates the need for follow-up enquiries. We treat everything as though it is urgent imagining that it is our own property that is being searched.

I have worked in local land charges for nearly 27 years. When I am on leave I have a great team of colleagues who step in and maintain the standard of service. I also make sure that the other units and outside bodies we work with are appreciated and a valued part of the process.   

How does your team feel about winning this award?  

The team are very pleased even after quite a few wins. I don’t think you can ever get blasé about winning can you? It gets publicised in our staff newsletter and on social media. 

Who makes up your team? 

I am the main person that deals with local land charges. I used to work in a solicitor’s office so had experience of conveyancing prior to joining the Local Authority. My great colleagues are Debbie who has been here for 15 years, and Denise and Kath who are our newer staff. The whole team also runs electoral registration and any elections so we are very busy with that as well. 

Denise is originally from Spain so Debbie and myself have been learning Spanish for a couple of years now! Funnily enough Kath is also fluent in French. Debbie and myself are very keen runners. I have run marathons all over the world, and we've done halves and 10k’s together in the UK. 

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
Award sponsor
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Best Performing NLIS Level 3 LLC Department

About the winner

Westminster are no stranger to the Excellence Awards, having won 8 since the awards first ran in 2008. Kim Bellengi explains that the impact of winning is still means a huge amount to the team.

"Winning an award is an acknowledgement of a job well done and all the hard work that went into it. We hope to have more successes in the future. 

"Awards can make us feel proud, happy and delighted. They give validation and boost our confidence and team morale."

 

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
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The Unsung Hero Award

About the winner

A person with long hair smilingDescription automatically generated with low confidenceHow do you feel about winning?  

It’s been a massive boost! It’s so nice to be recognised for the hard work we all do. We have had so many comments and congratulations since winning the award from our council peers. 

Tell us a bit about you 

I am a Geordie, originally from Gateshead before moving up to London in the mid 1980’s for work. I worked as a Senior Research Analyst for a property company in the City of London for 25 years before moving into the Local Land Charges arena with Barnet. I have worked for Barnet Local Land Charges for 12 years 

Interesting facts? 

Hmm lets see – I have been a Nanny, a Potter, a Tram Driver (at Beamish Museum - I am NOT that old!!) and I have an awesome sense of humour! 

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
Award sponsor
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Customer Satisfaction Award - Best in Unitary Councils

About the winner

Francesca D'Auria describes the impact of winning the award on her team. 

What does winning this award mean to the team? 

When we received the email to notify us that we had been nominated, it came as a complete shock and we were all in disbelief, but so grateful to our loyal customers. And then on the night of the awards ceremony where Francesca and Ian (Development Manager) were able to attend, we were again lost for words to be voted the winners.

This award has boosted morale tremendously and made us even more determined to keep up the excellent work the team provides. We would like to thank Land Data. Here’s to another year of hard work and see you all at next years event!

Describe your team

We are a team of five lovely ladies who came together in March 2019 following a commissioning review. This brought together discrete functions carried out by 11 separate officers in 7 different departments under one management structure within the Planning Department's Development Management team. It provided the potential for greater resilience and improvements in quality. In March 2022, part of the Local Land Charges service was migrated to the Land Registry as part of a national programme. Swansea was the first Authority in Wales to migrate. 

As part of our team you have myself Francesca D’Auria, I have been employed with Swansea Council for 27 years. I have been a member of the Planning Department since 1997 and began my role as planning searches assistant in 2003 after having my two daughters. I am one of 6 children with 4 older brothers and a younger sister – that was fun growing up 😊.   

Karen Smith has been with the council for 32 years. She started her council role in the Poll Tax Department and has been in Local Land Charges for 17 years. Karen is a big Swansea City football team fan. 

Ceri Di-Cataldo has been with Council 23 years, based in the Environmental Health Depts admin team, then taking on her role as Environment Health Searches Officer in 2003. Ceri enjoys running and has taken part in many half marathons. 

Deborah Coucill has been with the Council for 34 years, starting off in the Legal Department as a PA and law clerk team leader. Deb loves to go on long walks with her puppy Mali and took the opportunity to propose to her partner of 5 years this leap year – he said Yes 😊.   

Last but not least we have Deborah Bevan. Deb has been with the Council for 28 years, starting off answering incoming calls on the switchboard and front of house on the main council reception. Deb enjoys spending time with her nephews and great niece. 

  

 

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
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Customer Satisfaction Award - Best in Metropolitan Districts

About the winner

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Dudley's Nicky Rowe tells how winning a Customer Satisfaction Award has been a huge morale booster.

What's the secret to winning this award?  

The processes you put in place are really important – we set up an email so we can send it to our customers to nominate us. But the skills and experience of our team play a huge part: Jo has 39 years' experience in Local Land Charges and her knowledge is incredible. Myself and Veronica joined the team a few years back, but we've both worked for Dudley MBC for over 30 years. Communication between team members is essential and enables us to give our customers the best service.  

How does your team feel about winning this award? 

It’s been a massive morale boost. After being highly commended for the same award in 2023 and highly commended for Team of the Year in 2022, to actually win is fabulous and shows that we are improving and evolving. 

It has also made other council staff sit up and take notice. Our management team has highlighted our achievement to the wider legal services. 

Who makes up your team? 

Jo Carter is the knowledge guru and Dudley MBC are very lucky to have Jo’s 39 years’ experience and knowledge in Dudley’s LLC - she always goes above and beyond. I've worked for Dudley MBC for 30+ years, working in the Legal Department before joining LLC. Veronica Hornett has worked for Dudley MBC for 30+ years, again working in the Legal Department before joining LLC. 

All three of us work very hard to achieve excellent results. 

Interesting facts?  

We have 100 years' of knowledge between us at Dudley Council. We are all dedicated to working for Dudley Council, we think the figures speak for themselves. 

 

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
Award sponsor
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Customer Satisfaction Award - Best in London Boroughs

About the winner

Denise Durham reveals the secret to winning this award  

We ensure that all the team use the same format and wording when replying to emails and returning search results, making it look professional. We listen to our customers and understand what they want. 

As a team we have over 60 years' experience between us and pride ourselves in delivering a professional, friendly and prompt service. We also have very good relationships with all the other teams that we engage with in our working day. 

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
Award sponsor
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Customer Satisfaction Award - Best in District Councils

About the winner

Claire Fryer, Senior Local Land Charges Officer at West Devon Borough Council, reveals how her team continue to excel in the Customer Satisfaction category.

It is fabulous to win this award again as it's all about the customer experience. We understand how best to work with our customers and what they need from us, and we're always prepared to help with any queries that arise, even if they probably should be passed on to another department. Our customers appreciate that a quick call or email will get them the information they need or at least to the right person to help. We must be doing something right for customers to take time to nominate us.

The team is myself (I supervise both West Devon and South Hams) with invaluable help from Carla Bickle who inputs new search requests and sends requests to the County Council each day whilst also doing her job as Street Naming and Numbering for West Devon and South Hams councils. There’s also two lovely people, Ann Mckinlay and Kaya Glendinning, from our sister council (South Hams) who cover leave, sickness and support when the demand means I need support. With the HM Land Registry project and a system change due to complete this year, all three of us are working flat out, so delegating is definitely the way forward, allowing our customer service standards to be maintained.

Who are we?

I’ve been at the council for just over 30 years starting in Legal on a temporary 1 month rolling contract and, due to a really bizarre set of circumstances, ended up running Local Land Charges in 1995. As part of my role, I had some training in Building Control, Contaminated Land including Mining and SuDs schemes long before they were a thing for us in Local Land Charges.

Carla joined West Devon in the early 2000s as a technical officer for planning, then following a reorganisation took on Street Naming and Numbering for both councils which can be a challenge in itself, especially as there is a new town under construction, two sets of Ward Members and multiple parishes and their respective councillors.

Ann came to South Hams Local Land Charges in 2015 from Environmental Health. She is always looking for innovation and is working on providing a 'Spelthorn-style' enhanced search once we go live with HMLR. She also has some Street Naming experience which is very useful as well as knowing various aspects of Environmental Health.

Kaya joined South Hams Local Land Charges in 2016 having been in the private sector finance world. She is terribly practical asking “why” and “can’t we just?". This is so helpful with maintaining customer service standards and when dealing with the migration to HM Land Registry.

 

About the award

Winner
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Highly commended
Award sponsor
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