Archive for July, 2011

Guest Blog: Eric Robinson

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

This week Staffordshire is blazing a trail when it comes to helping people stay safe and independent at home as their health changes or they become that bit older.

Bilbrook AT Home in Codsall officially opened its doors on Tuesday.  This brand new service has been launched which means people in Staffordshire can try out technology and gadgets to maintain independence in a ‘real life’ home setting.

Those who are referred can ‘try out for real,’ technology, gadgets and gizmos from the advanced to the simple that can help them live a more independent life safely at home.  Broadly termed ‘assistive technology’ (AT), this equipment covers everything from help pouring from a kettle, automated medication dispensers through to remote monitoring of blood pressure and other vital signs..

We know that being able to stay in your own home for as long as possible has tremendous health benefits.  Over the last two years in Staffordshire we’ve made real progress in ensuring social care and health services focus more on early intervention to prevent or delay the onset of more serious health deterioration.  Good luck to the team at Bilbrook AT Home and if you want more information on assistive technology, you can go to

Congratulations to all those who have been involved in the Hoard exhibition in the Shire Hall Gallery in Stafford.  We set a target of 10,000 people to attend, and when the doors closed 21,000 people had been to the exhibition, which is a fantastic result.  The Hoard is moving on to Lichfield Cathedral and Tamworth Castle throughout the summer.

Now we are into the start of school holidays many of you will be enjoying some time off.  Do take advantage of a Shugborough 2 for 1 offer if you get chance and enjoy the break.

Eric Robinson is Deputy Chief Executive and Director for People.  Nick Bell is on holiday



Prosperity high on the agenda

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Over the weekend I was delighted to hear the news that another international employer has chosen Staffordshire as its base.

Online retailer Amazon is opening an operation in Rugeley, which will see 900 new jobs in the area.  The site they have chosen sits on the Rugeley by-pass which we built and completed in 2007.  It’s wonderful to see that a site which once provided jobs as a colliery has been turned around by Staffordshire County Council and our partners and will now see significant employment again.

This news comes hot on the heels of our announcement that more than £70 million pounds worth of retail development is coming to Stafford.  Working with Stafford Borough Council, we have announced that a commercial developer has snapped up the old Riverside Recreation Centre site in the heart of Stafford, together with the leasehold interest in the Bridge Street multi storey.  We are also in advanced talks with the same developer over the purchase of the Kingsmead car park site.

Overall these are really good news for the prosperity of the county, and send out a clear message to other global brands and businesses that they too can join the Staffordshire success story.

The Staffordshire Hoard exhibition is another big success.  Ten thousand visitors have already been through the doors of the Shire Hall gallery.  It runs until 24 July in Stafford before moving to Lichfield and Tamworth.  It’s a fantastic exhibition – don’t miss your opportunity to see it!

Local issues from a national perspective…

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Last week and this have been busy weeks, meeting and hearing from a number of Ministers and MPs and working with colleagues to strengthen our approach to prosperity and well-being in Staffordshire.

I started last week at a meeting inBirminghamwhich was attended by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.  He outlined the government approach to economic growth in the region.  He particularly focused on the need to improve skills and the number of apprenticeships – I am pleased to say that the County Council has recently been identified as one of the top 100 employers in the country for its approach to apprenticeships.

I saw Dr Cable again on Tuesday at an Anglo Indian Summit, which looked at relations betweenBritainandIndiaand the potential to progress these further.  Many of our local companies already have significant exports to the Indian market (particularly JCB) and it was a great opportunity to fly the flag for Staffordshire as a great place for Indian companies to invest in support of jobs and prosperity.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I attended the LG Annual Conference inBirminghamand had the opportunity to discuss issues and share ideas with colleagues from Councils and other bodies across the country.  I was particularly struck by a couple of things – that Staffordshire really is ahead of the game in many of the things we are doing, with lots of interest from other Councils (a real testament to the great staff we have working here – so a big thank you for that) and that there was far more representation from health bodies than in the past – a sign that the new direction of closer working between health and councils is really starting to get traction.

This was further reinforced this week when I spoke at the launch of the new Staffordshire Health & Wellbeing Board – an event attended by GPs, districts, police, and other partners from across the County.  There was a real sense of passion and urgency from everyone to get on and work together to tackle some of the key well-being issues across the County.

I had to head from there to meet the Mark Prisk, the Minister of State in Business, Innovation & Skills who was visiting Alstom inStaffordto see some of the great work they are doing and talk to our Local Enterprise Partnership about how we intend to improve prosperity in Staffordshire.  He was clearly impressed with many of the things we are doing and it was another great opportunity to raise the profile of Staffordshire with government.

On a more local level, I have also recently visited the Shire Hall Gallery to take a look at the Staffordshire Hoard.  It’s a wonderful exhibition and well worth a visit.  I’m glad that so many colleagues were interested in attending the staff preview evenings.  These were so popular that they were oversubscribed but those of you who still want to see the Hoard can do so for free during the day.  You can book a place online at