A LOCAL authority's finance department is celebrating being named the best business in the region.

The department at Stockton Borough Council was awarded the overall winner title at the North-East Excellence Awards 2000.

It is the first public sector organisation to win the award, which recognises exceptional achievements in business.

It will now be used as a best practice guide for other companies in the region,

Bob Patterson, director of finance, said: "This reflects the hard work and commitment of staff in providing better services for the authority and the people of Stockton borough."

Stockton council also netted the best public sector and best improver awards in the competition.