EUROCITIES awards: what are the winners 2009?

Espoo (Finland), Ghent (Belgium) and Newcastle (United Kingdom)were elected for the EUROCITIES Awards 2008. This rewards the city councils’success in involving their citizens in local governance. The conference will take place on Friday, 29 November in The Hague.

Now in its third year, the EUROCITIES Award scheme celebrates new ideas and approaches in local government of European significance.

Being honoured this year are:

- Espoo, winner of the Innovation award for its ‘Cultural Chain’ project: Developed by cultural services of traditionally unconnected local government and non-governmental institutions, this initiative focuses on improving the quality of life of elderly people by bringing art and culture ‘home’ to those who cannot get it otherwise.

- Ghent, winner of the Cooperation award for its ‘Gentinfo’ project: By providing a one-stop-shop for information services and assistance on the city’s public services, Ghent has successfully streamlined communication channels among the city’s residents, businesses, organisations and visitors. Ghent is the first municipality in Belgium to have offered this type of service centre.

- Newcastle, winner of the Participation award for its ‘Udecide’ project: Aimed at scaling up citizens’ participation, this scheme enables city residents to take part in discussions and decisions on a wide range of community projects and encourages contact between the city’s different residential groups.

The City of Belfast also received a special mention at this year’s awards ceremony for its ‘Mural Removal’ project which helped to build trust and improve joint work within the local community of the city’s most deprived neighborhoods. By replacing contentious paramilitary style murals with more inclusive community focused cultural images in these areas, the project has helped to restore a sense of ‘normality’ that had returned to the rest of the province with the onset of ‘peace process’ in the 1990’s.

Thirty-two EUROCITIES members submitted projects for this year’s awards. Entries were judged by a five-panel jury comprising one representative each from the EU institutions; academia; the non-governmental sector; the media; and the conference host city.

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