A BRIGHTON and Hove councillor says they are “really shocked” to have won a top national award.

Amy Heley was crowned the Young Councillor of the Year at this year's 2021 Cllr Awards.

The awards aim to celebrates “the vital work of individual councillors across England and Wales who make a difference in our communities”.

Cllr Phelim Mac Cafferty and Cllr Bridget Fishleigh were also among the nominees.

The judges said Cllr Heley was presented the Young Councillor of the Year award for the impact she has made since being elected in 2019, particularly on environment and travel issues.

They said she has been “instrumental” in changes to travel infrastructure, such as cycle lanes, a school streets project and the redesign of Madeira Drive.

Taking to social media after the award show on Wednesday night, Cllr Heley said: “Really shocked and honoured to have won this award, and huge congratulations to all the other shortlisted young councillors who I admire so much."

The Argus: Brighton and Hove City Council councillor Amy Heley Brighton and Hove City Council councillor Amy Heley

Her championing of disabled access to active travel options was also praised by the judges.

Cllr Heley is the chairwoman of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.

In response to the award, Cllr Jamie Lloyd said: “Thoroughly deserved. Amy Heley has been brilliant as chair of the ETS, a calm and extremely clever operator who has withstood vile abuse from the pathetic trolls.

“The beautiful Madeira Drive cycle lane is testimony to the great things Greens can achieve.”

Cllr Mac Cafferty was nominated for Leader of the Year. This award went to Cllr Georgia Gould of Camden Council.

Cllr Fishleigh, the city’s only elected independent councillor, was nominated for the Community Champion award. This was presented to Cllr Kevin Etheridge of Caerphilly County Borough Council.

The 12th annual award ceremony took place at Camden Council in London on Wednesday night.

Prior to this year’s awards night, there were more than 400 nominations.

The winners were selected by a group of judges that included senior councillors and leading stakeholders from across the sector.

LGIU chief executive Jonathan Carr-West said: “These councillors showcase the best of local government across England and Wales.

“During a time when our communities have experienced unprecedented challenges and pressures, these councillors are paving the way towards recovery.

“I would like to extend a huge congratulations to Cllr Heley and all of tonight’s Cllr Awards winners. We thank you for your service and look forward to hearing about your continued accomplishments in the future.”

Kelly Watson, relationship manager for local government at CCLA, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to recognise and honour those leading across local government.

“Local government has delivered in so many ways for communities across the country and we are honoured to stand alongside them.

“The hard work done by councillors and council leaders behind the scenes hardly ever reaches the public eye. This is an opportunity for us to set aside a small amount of time to celebrate those achievements.”