CIVIC chiefs across Hampshire have been honoured for the amount of support they give the county's small businesses.

Council bosses were brought together for the annual Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Small Business Friendly Awards.

These awards identified the best small business friendly initiatives undertaken by the region’s local authorities, which have benefited the county’s small businesses.

Winchester City Council was named as the Most Innovative for its ‘Small Business Friendly’ Programme, Project or Campaign.

The authority turned the usual conference structure on its head by asking more than 100 participants from local businesses to set the agenda for a business conference on the theme of making Winchester a premier business location.

The event titled ‘Unconference’ led to a second event called ‘Hack Winchester’, which picked up on some of the digital themes identified in the first event.

A number of initiatives were introduced as a result of both activities, including a free public wifi network installed in Winchester city centre and a landing page with marketing and advertising opportunities for local businesses.

Test Valley Borough Council – received a highly commended award for the work it has done in providing grants to local businesses; improving skills; providing regulatory support; helping to improve broadband and focus on rural businesses and town centres support.

The awards were introduced by the FSB South Central lead, Rob Dewing who praised the councils for their commitment to small businesses within their respective areas.

He said: “These awards aim to recognise, and publicly acknowledge, the significant work undertaken by local authorities, in supporting the micro and small business community.

"FSB sets out to lobby local and national government, but we also realise that we must recognise the work that councils undertake, which in essence, helps our members.”

Nicola Bailey, FSB development manager for Hampshire, added: “We hope that the awards provide a platform for councils to share their successes in promoting and championing local economic development. It provides us with an excellent opportunity to promote the best examples of good work to all councils across the county, and further afield. ”

The FSB exists to promote an environment in which small businesses can survive and thrive, and has 6,500 members within Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.