COUNCIL chiefs are celebrating after their sports development team was awarded an ‘excellent’ rating.

The Darlington Borough council team was also named ‘top sports development team’ by Sport England’s national quality scheme, Quest.

A leisure industry improvement programme, Quest puts its participants through rigorous assessments and challenges.

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The council’s sports development team, which works with local groups and organisations to develop sport, leisure and physical activity opportunities, had to pass tough entry level assessment programme to be rated as excellent The assessment covered eight modules including business planning, customer insight, operational delivery and continuous improvement.

The team will be assessed again in 2014 then have annual maintenance assessments.

The team was awarded the top sports development team at the Quest Awards 2013 in February and particularly commended for its ‘excellent understanding of the locality’, ‘strong commitment to continuous improvement’ and their ability to be ‘flexible to respond to changing demands’.

Nick Wallis, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, said: “The team works extremely hard to ensure local people have access to a variety of sport and leisure opportunities across the borough.

“This includes working with many local groups and clubs to secure funding to enhance existing opportunities and develop new ones.

“The benefit of being active and staying healthy cannot be underestimated and the work the team does gives people the chance to invest in their future health in many ways. Well done to everyone in the team.”

Quest’s operations director, Caroline Constantine, said: “By meeting Quest’s high standards, Darlington sports development team has shown its commitment to providing quality services to its customers.

“The new standards are more demanding and challenging for the management team and staff.

“In these tough economic times it is more important than ever that sports development teams can demonstrate their value, and the Quest process helps them do just that.”