Congratulations to Matt Biggs, and an update on Network Staffordshire

I couldn’t begin this week’s entry with any other subject than to congratulate Matt Biggs on being recognised at a national level as local government’s Rising Star of the Year.  This was the first year of this prize, which was presented at the MJ Achievement Awards on Wednesday in London; in the words of the Right Honourable Alan Johnson, this is the prize to which people will aspire in coming years.  Regular readers will remember my mentioning Matt’s excellent leadership of the 30 hour childcare pilot, in which he multiplied the positive effect of this initiative with the simple, yet highly effective, coordination of employers as well as parents and providers – a simple idea to explain, harder in practice, and beautifully executed by Matt and his team.

We had a very useful meeting this week of Network Staffordshire to take stock and work out where next.  Again, regular readers will remember that the Network was an effort to re-energise the Staffordshire Strategic Partnership and brings together leaders from councils, the wider public sector, business, the voluntary sector and our universities.  It’s worked very well, and has spawned the Smart Staffordshire initiative, which crosses public and private sector boundaries, and is ready to float off under its own steam (if that’s not too old-fashioned a metaphor for a digital initiative!). In a nutshell, this project is about putting all the elements in place to help residents and business thrive in the digital age. Having agreed this, we considered several options, and decided to work towards the county’s Industrial Strategy.  This will be a focussed version of the national strategy, and will be hugely relevant after Brexit, when, for example, funding for development, infrastructure and research will be controlled from Westminster rather than Brussels.  The local Industrial Strategy will, we understand, be the key document in terms of making the decisions on where the funding will go.  That means that Staffordshire’s has to jump out compared with the others – the active participation of all members of Network Staffordshire will help to make that happen.

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