A COUNCIL worker who helps put forward the views of people with learning disabilities has been nominated for a national award.

Fiona Horsman, who works for Gateshead Council's People with Disabilities team, has helped more than 50 adults with a range of learning needs to take an active role in deciding the services and support they want from the authority.

Ms Horsman has helped establish a forum where people with learning disabilities can share their views on everything from housing to healthcare.

Using techniques such as a "traffic light" system of cards in meetings to reflect decisions, and animated displays to reinforce the outcome of meetings, Gateshead's Partnership Board is helping people with complex needs to share their views.

Ms Horsman's pioneering work is now being recognised as she has been nominated for a national Public Servant of the Year Award 2003.

Aimed at rewarding employees who demonstrate skills such as innovation, leadership or partnership working, the Oscar-status titles attract more than 300 entries in the public sector from across the country every year.

Ms Horsman has been nominated by council bosses for the category social inclusion.

Councillor Gordon Spring, cabinet member for social support, said: "Fiona has put a great deal of work into making this board work and putting in place mechanisms such as the pictorial meeting notes that allow them to take part, and for that I congratulate her."

The category winners will be announced in May.