On the move

Hi everyone – hope you all had a good weekend.  Sorry my blogs were a bit light in content last week – we had to move out of our house in East Anglia on Friday, so it was all hands to the pump to help with the packing. It does mean this update is a bumper one but a lot to report and comment on.

I got a chance to visit a few more areas of the County last week.  As I mentioned in my last blog, this included a visit to Stafford prison.  We run the library service for all 6 prisons and young offender institutes across Staffordshire.  While it was somewhat daunting to go into the prison and hear the gate clang shut behind me, it was great to see the work that the library service were doing. Much more than just a book lending, but also in helping the inmates – many of whom had literacy problems – develop their skills so that they had a better chance of integrating back into the community and finding work when they were released. 

Tuesday found me in Burton College, talking to their principal about the great things they are doing to help their students.  While they already do quite a lot of work jointly with the county council, we both agreed that there was more we could do together, particularly to assist some of the more disadvantaged communities around Burton. This was obviously my ‘education’ day as I finished it at Keele University, discussing issues we had in common with the vice-chancellor and registrar.  As an ‘old boy’ from Keele (I did a one year teacher training course there in the early 90s) it felt good, if a little strange, to be back after nearly 20 years!

Later in the week I attended an event at Alton Towers Conference Centre where over 250 representatives from the public and private sector came to hear about our aspirations for our schools under the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme.  There were some really interesting and inspiring presentations, particularly those from students at some of the schools in Tamworth and Rugeley who hope to benefit from the funding.  Although we don’t know whether the BSF funding will survive the review of spending by the new government, the day was a huge success with many of the organisations who attended wanting to play a bigger part in helping us to achieve the vision. The BSF team who organised the day were superb and deserve huge congratulations.

Talking about the new government, while we are now clear who has key ministerial posts we are still waiting to hear the detail behind many of the new policies that have been announced in headline, as well as clarity around funding reductions.  Everyone in the public sector knows that we are in for a difficult journey over the next few years as the government tackles its deficit. We will need to look at doing things in completely different ways and far more in partnership so that we can continue to improve quality of life for all our residents, despite reductions in government cash.  This will continue to be a key theme for me and for the county council.

Hope you all have a good week – the weather forecasters are predicting a bit of a scorcher, so let’s hope they are accurate!

Bye for now

Nick

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