WE have just been through another couple of rounds of the local government equivalent of the BAFTAs and the Oscars. We were shortlisted for three Local Government Chronicle awards. Unfortunately all we came back with was one highly commended for financial management and one Commended for our efforts to support and develop talented staff. However, we have been awarded Beacon Status for two different service areas. Being a Beacon Council means that the Government looks to the recipient to show other councils how those services ought to be delivered. So, as of now and in addition to all our other awards, we are now a Beacon Council for procurement and a Beacon Council for waste management. In the procurement field, we are the only county council in the country to be awarded that status. The judges were particularly impressed with our home-grown tool called Safe in the Knowledge which helps us to assess the quality of suppliers who might be commissioned to support vulnerable people. It is nice to gain national recognition. We also gain £60,000 for each beacon status. I know that £120,000 is not a lot of money (only worth about a sixth of a peerage) but, when you are as underfunded as we are, every little helps. Naturally enough, having national status also helps when it comes to attracting new staff. Not many people want to go and work for a second rate authority.