Archive for November, 2009

Tipping Street development kick started

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

IMG_2199 blogToday marked the first day of the building process for our exciting new Tipping Street Development. 

Colleagues and I gathered with representatives from developer Stoford and building contractor VolkerFitzpatrick on the site of the development in Stafford town centre to see the official start of the building.

For those of you who don’t know, the Tipping Street development will become the county council’s new headquarters and will be home to 1,700 staff. The new buildings will have the highest standards of energy efficiency, cutting the council’s annual carbon emissions by over 1,750 tonnes a year.

But the state-of-art development won’t just benefit county council staff, in just 2 years time shops and cafes will be open for business too and will provide Stafford with a real focus.

Moreover, we are committed to kick starting the economy through construction and are pleased that the new development will be a major boost for the local area throughout these challenging times. We have stipulated in the developers’ contract that local labour should be used wherever possible and are hoping that this will open up new opportunities for local business.

Following a full review carried out of the project earlier in the year we can also confirm that the development will save the taxpayer a quarter of a million pounds a year which was fantastic news.
So its full steam ahead and I for one am looking forward to Summer 2011.

You can keep up to date with the development progress by visiting our Tipping Street website. There you can find the latest pictures and also follow the building work on our webcam.

Trip to Belgium

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Over the last few days I have been in Brussels to represent the West Midlands region at some key planning discussions.

IMAG0421I met European colleagues for a Peri Urban Rural Platform for Europe (PURPLE) meeting. PURPLE is a group of like minded and similar urban/rural regions from across Europe. These regions work together to maximise the advantages resulting from their location in relation to large cities and towns while minimising adverse impacts on the character, landscape and environment that make them distinct and special. This is something we especially need to consider in Staffordshire.brussells
The group lobbies the European Commission, shares best practise and exchanges ideas about spatial planning, climate change and local food links. The meeting was extremely interesting and it was great to see how similar regions in Europe are planning ahead for the future and tackling issues such as climate change. Karen Davies of our region’s Heart of England Fine Foods was among the speakers and really did our region proud.

IMAG0404I also had the privilege to attend the commemoration of the Armistice at the Menin Gate in Ypres. It was a very moving service and a great honour to lay a wreath on behalf of our region.

Young people ‘take over’ for the day

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Today is national 11 million Take-over Day and to mark the event young people from around the county will be stepping into our shoes and ‘taking over’ Staffordshire County Council for the day.
It is really important that my colleagues and I listen to the voices of young people as much as possible which is why we arranged for seven young people that are in the county council’s care to take on the role of county councilors and senior bosses at Staffordshire’s Corporate Parenting Panel. This board is responsible for ensuring the well-being of children in care and this was a great opportunity for those young people to put across how well they feel they are being looked after.

Many other young people from Staffordshire joined in to ‘take over’ the roles of head teachers and senior managers in an effort to let us know what they think.

I must say this was a really fun and useful exercise and can I assure those young people that took part that their suggestions will not go unnoticed. In fact we may be picking up a few tips!

Remembering for this years Poppy Appeal

Friday, November 6th, 2009

To mark Remembrance Sunday and to raise money for this year’s Poppy Appeal we have held a ‘Dress down day’ for all staff at Staffordshire County Council. In exchange for a donation staff got into their ‘non work’ clothes for the day. All money raised was gift aided too – make sure you all do this too, every penny makes a difference!
New Picture (1) blog
The poppy appeal is charity close to my heart and I think it is so important that we not only honour those who fought in the two World Wars but also those involved in the many conflicts since 1945 and those that are fighting today.
I attended a very nice Remembrance service at my local church in Uttoxeter with my family – thanks to everyone at the church who made the service so welcoming.

Next week I am off to Belgium for a partnership conference but will also going to Ypres for a special memorial service which will bring people from all over Europe together to remember. You can donate money online to this year’s poppy appeal here

New volunteering scheme to make a difference

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Hi everyone, it’s been another busy week and I’m really pleased that it is ending with the launch of our new volunteering scheme.

smaller[1]As of today the new scheme gives county council staff the opportunity to volunteer for 2 and a half unpaid days a year at the organization of their choice.

We have kicked off the scheme just in time national Make a Difference Week and im hoping that because we are the largest employer in Staffordshire the program will give organisations across the county hundreds of extra manpower.
A lot of our staff help to deliver front line services everyday but this new scheme will give them the opportunity to give that extra helping hand.

You don’t have to work for the county council to volunteer though. Why not consider giving up a few hours of your time? Find out more here

A step closer to home

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I was in London earlier this week for the launch of a temporary exhibition of the 1,662 pieces of gold and silver from the Staffordshire Hoard in The British Museum.

I’m really pleased as the British Museum has confirmed they are not interested in acquiring the hoard and that once the valuation is made there is not suggestion it won’t return to its rightful place in Mercia.

This is fantastic news as it means that hopes of bringing the Staffordshire PB030018 blogHoard back to its home region where it was originally found are alive!

We are working with our partners from Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent and other bodies across the West Midlands to ensure that the treasure returns to the region and have already begun to work on the bid proposal.

It was great attending the launch in London and brought back the excitement that the Hoard created initially when it was discovered. It is nice that the story of the treasure can be shared with others around the country too. I met up with fellow farmer Fred Johnson whose land the Hoard was found on. It was amazing to reflect on how far the treasure has come from a muddy famer’s field to grand surroundings of the British Museum. I asked if I could borrow his plough in the hope it may find me some gold one day too!

We need your views on care in Staffordshire

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

StaffordshireCares[1]At the end of last week fellow county councilors and guests from the county’s care sector met at a packed chamber debate to discuss the future of adult social care services in Staffordshire.

We were keen to get the public’s opinion about ‘Staffordshire Cares’, the new vision for Staffordshire – and how it will fundamentally change the provision of social care and health across the county.

At the moment, some people struggle to understand and access social care services. Our vision involves a three year plan to provide the public with easy and obvious ways into the care environment in Staffordshire. These will include a single countywide phone number providing advice and information, local information points and one stop shops across Staffordshire.

The debate was webcast live but if you missed it you can watch a download from our SCC TV site here. You can read about in more depth here. We want your views on this too so why not attend one of our consultation events here.