Saffron Walden Town Council awarded second best council in Essex – Press Release

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) says that it is delighted that under its stewardship Saffron Walden Town Council is now the second best council in Essex.

The ‘Council of the Year’ annually awarded by the Essex Association of Local Councils to the best town or parish council in the county. Saffron Walden Town Council has been awarded second place in the 2017 contest. In making the award, a council’s operation and delivery is considered, including governance procedures, council structure, service delivery, efficiency and effectiveness. Key council programmes were also considered, including operation of the town market, and renovations of Bridge End Gardens.

Richard Freeman (R4U) Richard Freeman (R4U)

The Saffron Walden Mayor is R4U’s Councillor Richard Freeman. He said “The Town Council is honoured and immensely proud to receive this award. This is R4U’s first term as the leading party at Saffron Walden Town Council and this award recognises the progress that we’ve made over the last two-and-a-half years in turning around many years of neglect. It is independent recognition for residents that their town is now in safe hands.”

“When we were elected we inherited a near £1m hole in the town’s finances, there was high staff turnover, public assets were crumbling, and important things weren’t getting done. Since then we’ve worked hard to fix the finances and repair landmark assets such as Bridge End Gardens and the Town Hall. We’ve also brought forward important programmes for the town, such as the refurbishment of existing sports fields.  We are also progressing our proposal for a better foot and buggy path along the bottom of the Common, which will also make the play area accessible in all seasons.”

Essex Association of Local Council Awards 2017: Saffron Walden Town Council – Council of the Year, Runner Up. Cllr Dr. Richard Freeman, Mayor of Saffron Walden (L) & Mrs Lisa Courtney, Town Clerk (R), receiving the award.

Mayor Cllr Richard Freeman continued “Transparency and democracy at the town council has also been improved; council meetings are now recorded and the mayor is elected rather than appointed. And most importantly we appointed an outstanding new clerk in Lisa Courtney, who has improved processes, delivery and team morale.”

“This award is testimony to all the hard work, effort and energy from all involved in the delivery of council services and especially the clerk and town council staff. I’d also like to give special thanks also to all the volunteers that support the council, including town councillors of all parties, who do not get paid, and kindly donate their time and energy to the town and its residents.”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties. R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In the May 2019 R4U took majority control of UDC by gaining two-thirds of the seats. Since then it has set about re-engineering the now award-winning council operates, rebuilding the finances and fixing how planning is done. In 2021 the party won half the Essex County Council seats in Uttlesford district.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at