THE News’ local democracy reporter Ollie Sirrell is celebrating after being ‘highly commended’ by BBC bosses last month

More than 100 reporters travelled to Salford’s MediaCity on Tuesday, June 25, for the inaugural event recognising the first year of the local democracy reporting service, a scheme created by the BBC to help regional newsrooms hold their local authorities to account.

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The event saw reporters listen to key figures from local news and local government speak about the impact of the service before an awards ceremony rounded off the conference.

Journalists from across the country took home top prizes for best scoops, best use of the freedom of information request act, best broadcast work and more, with other reporters ‘highly commended’ in each category.

Ollie was ‘highly commended’ for his use of social media to source stories after he discovered an Ascot man appealing for help from Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) on Twitter.

This led to the News revealing how the man’s family were being forced to move home after being on the receiving end of repeated verbal abuse from a neighbour’s friend who claimed to work for BFC.

Ollie, who has been covering the activities of BFC and Wokingham Borough Council for more than a year, said: “I am thrilled to have been recognised by the BBC.

“This story took a little while to come together so I was very pleased to have been able to tell the family’s story.

“I would like to thank everyone I have worked with in the past year for helping me and I would like to congratulate the Liverpool Echo’s Faye Brown for taking the top prize in the social category.”

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Bracknell News editor Andrew Colley added: “We are delighted that Ollie’s outstanding work over the last year has been recognised at this prestigious event.

“He is the perfect example of a great modern-day journalist, working with colleagues to hold local authorities to account.

“As part of his role, Ollie spends countless hours poring through council documents and reporting on lengthy meetings so that readers don’t have to – a vital service for our community.”