Luton Council Leader Hazel Simmons has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
Cllr Simmons, who has served as an elected councillor in Luton since 1991, was included in the prestigious honours list released today for her commitment over many years to improving the lives of Luton residents.
As a long-serving leader with local and national impact across a wide range of public provision, Hazel has provided excellent quality and accessible services for the people of Luton and has spent countless hours supporting Luton’s voluntary and community sector.
Since being elected Leader of the Council in 2007, Hazel has set out a bold vision and ambition for the town. From delivery of major regeneration and infrastructure projects and the £26 million world-class Inspire Sports Village, to the refurbishment and rebuild of most schools in Luton making them some of the best performing in the Eastern Region, Hazel is changing life chances of the people of Luton for the better.
When faced with challenges Hazel has always been able to bring the faith, voluntary and business communities together under the ‘Luton in Harmony’ banner to send a clear message that Luton’s a vibrant, cohesive and multi-cultural town which celebrates its diversity.
Most recently Hazel has been the driving force behind the town’s bold and ambitious £1.5 billion Investment Framework which was her response to austerity by maximising Luton’s advantages and partnering with international developers to open the door to investment. A quick tour of the town and you’ll see over 1,000 construction workers across various projects demonstrating Luton’s transformation is underway, bringing with it thousands of new jobs and opportunities for Luton residents.
Cllr Simmons said: “I am humbled and delighted – and actually a bit embarrassed – to have received an MBE from the Queen. I love this town and all I have ever wanted is the very best for our residents so it’s been a privilege to serve them as a councillor and leader.
“I have had the honour of working closely with fantastic colleagues, politicians, businesses, faith and community organisations over many years and I feel that this award is also recognition of their great work and commitment to making Luton a better place.”
Former council leader and long-time friend Lord Bill McKenzie of Luton said: “As someone who has known Hazel for a long time and seen how committed and passionate she is about standing up for and supporting the people of Luton, I am delighted she is being recognised in this way. I would like to congratulate Hazel and her family on this remarkable achievement, which is recognition of her many years of hard work for our great town.
“During her time as council leader we have taken massive strides forward in caring for our vulnerable, driving improvements to health and wellbeing, creating opportunities for residents and enhancing prosperity.”
Trevor Holden, Chief Executive of Luton Council, said: “Through her outstanding leadership, Hazel has developed a strongly cohesive community which is held as an exemplar nationally, has taken bold risks to deliver major infrastructure projects and created real aspiration across the town with the new opportunities being created for local people through her drive of the Luton Investment Framework.
“Her commitment to serious national issues and unwavering leadership of the town truly change lives and are why she is absolutely deserving of this prestigious honour.”