Archive for August, 2009

Prepared in every single way

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Many thanks to all those people that tuned in live to our Cabinet webcast last week. I’m very pleased that almost 200 of you watched as we discussed planning for Staffordshire’s future. The webcasts are a great way for people to keep up to date with the decision making process.

When a major incident occurs, as members of the public we generally don’t think about the efforts that go on behind the scenes to help the situation. Earlier this week I had a very reassuring meeting with the Civil Contingencies Unit, whose main role is to work together with organisations like the police, fire service, PCT and local authorities to ensure that Staffordshire is prepared for a large scale incident. This can be anything from planning for swine flu to a plane crash.

It was very interesting to discover the ins and outs of how each partner has worked together in the past when responding to an emergency such as Lichfield’s flooding last year. I came away feeling assured that Staffordshire is prepared for every eventuality.

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Watch Cabinet live

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

webcast[1] blogThis week is proving to be yet another busy one with our second cabinet meeting taking place tomorrow. Topics at the top of the agenda will include the future of mineral quarrying across the county and plans to improve Staffordshire’s culture, sport and tourism industry.

I know these are subjects which have a profound affect on many local communities in Staffordshire which is why I would remind everyone to tune in to our live webcast of the meeting at 10am tomorrow.  If you can’t make the live viewing, there will also be a recording of the meeting available to watch a later time to suit you.

Go to www.staffordshire.gov.uk , and click on the “online video” icon to view the webcast

A juggling act down on the farm

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

I’ve been busy juggling my responsibilities this week.

As some of you may know being Leader of Staffordshire County Councillor is not my only job. I’m also a farmer and this time of year is vital for the agricultural community.

I have had to make the most of the rare sunshine and dry weather and have been clocking up the hours on the combine harvester, harvesting oilseed rape which is used for vegetable cooking oil and, hard as you may find it to believe, also fuelling diesel engines.

Me and my combine harvesterBalancing work and public service is always a difficult task for councillors. Councillors who are still working have to balance their public duties with their business and work commitments and I believe it is important that we have Councillors who are still working. I have been a County Councillor for 22 years!

It is tricky doing two full time jobs, and I’m also a backbench member of East Staffordshire Borough Council and time management is the key. We do have allowances as Councillors which are designed to recompense but not reward our role but I manage it because I have good support both at the county council and at home.

I am proud to be a working councillor. I think it keeps me in touch with the challenges faced by very many people in Staffordshire. It helps, particularly with our work fighting the recession.

You can rest assured that I have still been attending meetings, and even while I’m on the combine I’ve been in constant touch with the county council thanks to the wonders of modern technology. There may have been some confusion about who’s running the country, but the county is far more organised.

Childs play and a walk on the wild side!

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

I had a great time in the little Moorlands village of Grindon at the weekend where I was opening one of Staffordshire’s 25 new Playbuilder schemes – that’s a playground to you and me.

Grindon’s playground is the smallest to be included on the scheme but means a lot to Grindon’s children. It’s only cost £4,000, but that will represent real value-for-money if the children continue to get as much enjoyment out of it as they did on Saturday. A small grant like this means a lot to a small village.

The children can play on the village green, and all the equipment is made of natural local materials, so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb in a traditional setting.

Watch this video to find out more about Playbuilder 2009

I attended the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust yesterday.

It was founded in 1969 and now has over 16,000 members and manages 30 natures reserves across the county, including Highgate Common which they recently took over from the county council. Their headquarters at Wolseley Bridge near Rugeley is truly impressive and I always enjoy my visits there and to any of their other sites.

The county council is responsible for large areas of Staffordshire countryside, and we’ve worked closely with the Trust this year. They’ve helped us out fighting the Phytophthora outbreak on Cannock Chase and we’ve also developed the beautiful Weaver Way walk up in the Moorlands together.

I am quite sure the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust will continue to grow in the next 40 years.