30 August 2023 | Collaboration | Our Work

DfT Special Recognition Awards: Spotlight on previous winners

Ahead of this year’s DfT Special Recognition Awards, the Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) will be highlighting some of our previous winners. This week, Sam Shean, Highways & Traffic Services Manager at Reading Borough Council, talks to LCRIG about what winning the Best of Britain award meant to him.


Q. What did winning a DfT Special Recognition Award mean to you?

A. It was a huge surprise and totally unexpected. It means a massive amount, as Reading are such a small Borough and it has highlighted the good work Reading and my team are doing, so yes, totally over the moon with it.

Q. Why should people and organisations enter the awards?

A. You need to be in it to win it, and it really does raise the profile of your team even just to be in contention. I know my Corporate Management Team and especially our Administration (Councillors) are totally supportive and want to see officers making submissions to promote the fantastic job we are doing at Reading. They certainly enjoy reaping the rewards when we win!

Q. Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of entering?

A. Promote your team, show what you are doing, as well as where you were and the journey to where you are now and where you are headed.

Q. Why is innovation so important to your council?

A. It helps deliver TEAM Reading values, drives carbon reduction and a vital part of asset management efficiency savings at a time where every pound going into the network matters.

Q. In what ways are the council taking innovation forward?

A. We have committed to 1% of our annual capital road resurfacing programme spending on innovation trials to drive the necessary efficiency we need. Once the trials are successfully completed, we will then look to implement the innovation as part of business as usual. We run trials regularly and are always looking at new options / different ways of working and doing things.

Q. What actions need to be taken to ensure the industry attracts a younger and more diverse workforce?

A. Support your staff, encourage training, provide opportunity for them to take control in delivering projects and have a clear succession plan in place that shows a career path for younger team members. I find staff that are challenged a bit and do a wide range of work stay engaged and make for a happy and efficient team.

Q. Why is it important to make the case for local roads?

A. Highways have always taken a larger hit when it comes to saving plans over the last two decades, so using our asset management principles we continue to deliver projects on time and within budget. Our highway network is our most valuable Council asset and we have a huge responsibility to ensure that it remains safe and accessible to all our users. The condition of roads is always one of the top issues with all residents surveys, so Reading listened and are investing in improving our road network. By delivering we have gained the support and confidence of our Administration and our residents surveys are improving to support this investment.

Q. What more needs to be done to ensure the sector reaches net zero?

A. We need industry to bring innovative lower carbon products to market that are affordable for Council’s to use and we need support so that we can be brave enough to use them. Support can be for example DfT allowing Council’s to use a small element of our annual LTP award for capability thereby allowing us to employ and grow our own staff, which in turn will reduce the reliance on expensive short term solutions.


The Local Council Roads Innovation Group (LCRIG) are proud to be hosting the prestigious Special Recognition Awards on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT), which were established by the late Steve Berry OBE, the Department for Transport’s former Head of Highways Maintenance, Innovation and Resilience. The awards recognise companies and individuals who have gone the extra mile to deliver change in the sector.

The winners will be announced at the DfT Special Recognition Awards ceremony on the evening of 4th October. The awards form part of Strictly Highways, which will take place from 3-5 October in The Ballroom at Winter Gardens, Blackpool, and are a fantastic way to generate positive publicity, enhance your company profile, reward team success and network.

If you would like to nominate a colleague, project or initiative that has gone the extra mile, you can submit your entries on the event platform HERE

This year’s award categories are:

Best use of technology in the Highways and Transportation sector – sponsored by Stabilised Pavements Ltd 

This award will provide recognition to an organisation or partnership that can demonstrate the best use of technology within the highways and transportation sector.

The Transport Technology Innovation award – sponsored by the Transport Technology Forum (TTF) 

This award will recognise transformative innovations that will successfully address the evolving demands and future challenges faced by the highways and transportation sector.

Collaborative Partnership (between council(s) and supply chain) – sponsored by Tensar 

This award will provide recognition to outstanding partnerships, collaborations, or joint initiatives that have significantly contributed to the advancement and improvement of the highways and transportation sector.

Net Zero Project of the Year – sponsored by JCB 

This award will recognise an outstanding innovation project delivered by an organisation/partnership that has demonstrably contributed to accelerating or reducing the cost of decarbonisation. The project will evidence a reduction in environmental impacts, managing embedded carbon within construction and reducing air pollution.

Employer Initiative of the Year award – sponsored by WJ Group 

This award will recognise an outstanding initiative delivered by an organisation that has demonstrably contributed to supporting the retention of employees and/or encouraged new employees into the sector. The initiative may also have demonstrated a wider social value impact, e.g. through creating employment opportunities within local communities.

Highways Apprentice of the Year – sponsored by Gaist

The Highways Apprentice of the Year Award aims to recognise and celebrate outstanding apprentices who have made significant contributions and have had a positive impact on their course, their workplace or the wider highways sector during their apprenticeship. This prestigious award acknowledges the dedication, skills and commitment demonstrated by apprentices as they progress in their career.

Best of Britain Award – sponsored by Multevo 

This award, inspired by Will Britain, the founder of LCRIG, was introduced in 2022 to celebrate a public sector individual that works on the officer or Manager side of a local authority. We know there a number of people in these roles that often have to balance, public, political, financial and community challenges but regardless of this they try and find the best solutions for their local community and do so with a passion to make things better. We want to celebrate those that have gone above and beyond to engage with their local community, improve local services, change local perceptions or play a key part in the sector.

Entries are now open!

Please visit the Strictly Highways event website HERE to view the award criteria and submit your entries.

The DfT Special Recognition Awards are open to all.

Please note: Winning entries will be required to be represented at the awards ceremony.  Individual places at the awards ceremony are still available. For more information, please contact us.

Public sector fully-funded places still available!

To find out more and book your place, please visit the Strictly Highways website here.

Image source: LCRIG