Archive for December, 2009

Christmas message

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Firstly  I would like to wish all my blog readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I would particularly like to send seasonal greetings to the many Staffordshire County Council staff for whom Christmas Day is a working day.

These include many of our care workers who help deliver vital services. We will also have gritting crews on 24-hour standby in case we do get a white Christmas. They are all heroes, and I would like it to be known that I am grateful for all they do.

To say the last 12 months have been busy would be an extreme understatement. In fact 2009 has been the most memorable year during my time in politics.

June’s election success was obviously a highlight. It brought the people of Staffordshire their first Conservative led county council administration for almost 30 years. We were voted into office with a manifesto that promised to improve front-line services while keeping council tax rises low. Those are still the principals that will guide us throughout 2010.

We have already boosted investment in our roads by £30 million. We are improving the scrutiny of health and social services and taking steps to make highways safer, particularly outside schools.

Locally we have begun consultation on proposals for Stafford’s western access route. We also overhauled proposals for new office accommodation in Tipping Street and made them fit-for-purpose. The new buildings will rise in 2010, providing better value-for-money for taxpayers and will giving Stafford town centre a major economic boost.

The recently published Oneplace report gave the public a view of services across the county based on the findings of key independent. The verdict is that services in the county are good.

Finally 2009 was the year of the Staffordshire Hoard, the most remarkable archaeological discovery for decades. There will be some exciting announcements about the Hoard’s future in 2010 so please do keep posted.

Merry Christmas everyone and best wishes for 2010.

Honoured with county award

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

IMG_1580For those of you who aren’t aware, as well as my important role as Leader of Staffordshire County Council I am also farmer in Rocester and earlier this week I was very honoured to be presented with the Burton Trophy by the National Farmers’ Union, NFU for outstanding service to agriculture.

Earlier this year I stepped down after a decade as chairman of the Uttoxeter NFU branch to focus on my council work although I remain a member of the organisation and continue to farm.

I don’t want to go into the details of my achievements as a farmer but what I can say is that receiving this award matters to me more than you can possibly imagine. Thank you to all those who have been involved in the branch’s work over the past 10 years. There were some real downs, especially foot and mouth, and I remember sitting in the office putting pins in a map of farms that were going to be culled out.

There have though been some real highs too and I would just like to say thank everyone who I have worked with throughout the years. It is a real honour.

Gritters are working around the clock.

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The weather has really taken a turn for the worse over the last few days and with areas of the country experiencing delays on the roads I would like to reassure residents that Staffordshire’s dedicated gritting crews will be on call around the clock to fight the festive freeze and the whole highways team is ready to step up to the challenge.

IMG_0460 200Our team has already faced a busy weekend, spreading 1,500 tonnes of salt. Crews visited each of the area’s 60 routes at 5pm on Saturday and Sunday and again during the early evening.

Our team has access to a fleet of over 60 salting vehicles, 140 snow blades, and 20 tractor-mounted snow blowers. And 10 of the salting machines use pre-wetted salt, ensuring more immediate and effective action, stopping ice before it gets a grip.

We grit 43% of our roads – higher than the national average of 35%. However this does mean some will remain untreated. Please do just be careful on all roads this Christmas folks.

Think before you take the wheel

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

With Christmas fast approaching Staffordshire Roads Safety partnership have sent out a message today urging people to think before taking the wheel this Christmas.

I would like to second this. Drink driving accounts for nearly one in six of all deaths on the roads and at this time of year, the abundance of parties and family celebrations can lead to people being over the legal limit.

The penalties for drink driving are steep and the only safe option is not to drink at all or take drugs if you are driving. Leave your car at home and take a taxi or bus and most of all have a safe and enjoyable Christmas.

Campaign puts domestic abuse in the spotlight

Friday, December 18th, 2009

It is extremely important the county council works together with partners to ensure better outcomes for residents and also for consistency.

DV 200This Christmas we have teamed up with Staffordshire Staffordshire Women’s Aid and four other local councils to warn those committing domestic violence that their actions will not be tolerated.  

We have launched a joint campaign in the run-up to the festive season. Sadly, statistics show an increase in the reports at this time of year which is why police and partners are reminding people to use the support available and report the incidents.

This year’s campaign aims to raise awareness of domestic violence and also highlight the impact it has on children – often the unheard victims of domestic abuse. In over 90 per cent of domestic abuse incidents children are in the next room or within earshot so the message for this campaign is “Domestic violence can scar children for life and punishable by prison”. We want offenders to know that the abuse will not be tolerated but also to urge victims to get support.

Keep your eye out for out our posters, radio ads and postcards with advice and support information. For more information, help and advice go to www.staffordshire.gov.uk/beatviolence

Two week extension to Stafford’s access route consultation

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Id like to use my blog today to inform you that Staffordshire’s planning chiefs have extended th consultation period for public views on Stafford’s western access route by another two weeks – now closing on Friday January 22.

Oddfelllows 200We are hoping that the extra time will give residents from all over Stafford the opportunity to study the plans in their full context and submit their views.

We want to make sure everyone has their say which is why we have published all the details on the web, put questionnaires out in the local free press to every household, held public information days and distributed leaflets to libraries, shops and public buildings across the town.

If you would like a leaflet questionnaire you can call the Highways Hotline on 0800 232323 and we will send one to you.

For more information go to www.staffordshire.gov.uk/westernaccess

Staffordshire Hoard book now on sale

Friday, December 11th, 2009

If you live in Staffordshire or indeed the region you won’t have escaped the intense public interest in the Staffordshire Hoard, a collection of Anglo-Saxon gold found earlier this year.

hoardsplash1To celebrate this fantastic find a beautifully designed book is now on sale just in time for Christmas.

Limited numbers of this short introduction to the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found is now available at selected outlets for just £4.99. At least £1 of each copy goes straight the appeal fund to acquire the Hoard and bring it back to the region of its discovery.

This is the first book on Hoard and tells the remarkable story of the discovery, describes the fascinating collection of objects it contains, and offers in initial interpretation of the treasure and its significance.

Hopefully this book will bring greater understanding and appreciation of the Hoard, the ancient kingdom of Mercia and how its part of our county’s history. Im also delighted that when people buy they are playing a very real part in the fundraising effort.

Why not buy the book for a loved one this Christmas. I will certainly be purchasing a few as stocking fillers. Limited copies of the book are available at Stafford Library, Shire Hall Gallery in Stafford, Lichfield Library, Tamworth Library, Stafford and Lichfield Record Offices, Tamworth Castle and Tamworth Information Centre. You can also order direct from the The British Museum via the Staffordshire Hoard website at www.staffordshireHoard.org.uk

Online database brings a Fairtrade festive season

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

For those of you who support fair-trade and the purchasing of fair-trade products, the county council now has a new online database stocked full of information on Fairtrade suppliers in Staddordshire. The site has details of over 250 local shops and organisations across Staffordshire who are committed to helping get a fair deal for producers in the developing world.

I have tried out the database myself today and I must say it is very easy to use and very useful.

I think it is important, especially at this time of year to make sure we think of others less fortunate than ourselves. Buying fair-trade ensure that a fair wage is paid for a fair product whilst not costing us the earth.

To browse the Fairtrade register go to www.staffordshire.gov.uk/fairtrade.

Staffordshire given a good bill of health

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

As many of you will discover if you would like to find out how your local public services are performing you will have to go to each individual service and get their latest report which can prove to be very time consuming and a bit confusing.

The new national Oneplace (www.direct.gov.uk/oneplace) provides an independent overview of all local public services in one geographical area. It will help you see how well services such as councils, police, and the NHS are serving your needs. It will also assess how well we are working together.

Im pleased to say that Staffordshire’s first Oneplace report shows that public services in are county are good and the county council itself is performing well. Why not find out more in our new cabinet news bulletin below.

Young people get early taste of 2012

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

A group of our young people from Staffordshire aged 13 -19 have had the fantastic opportunity to experience the new Olympic Park first hand when they visited the site of the London 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games this week.

The visit, which also included a tour of the new Wembley Stadium, was diesnged to show the young Get Set leaders how the area Is preparing for the Games.

For those of you who don’t know, Get Set is the London 2012 educational programme which offers children and young people aged 13 – 19 years from schools and colleges across the UK to learn more about the Olympic and Paralympic values and play their part.

The county has entered the top ten in the country with 240 schools across Staffordshire and Stoke-onTrent signed up to become part of the Get Set programme. Why not find out more by visiting getset.london2012.com/