Archive for March, 2010

Milestone announcement for Staffordshire Hoard fund-raising effort

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

It was announced today that the National Heritage Memorial Fund has contributed a fantastic £1.285 million towards the fundraising effort to save the Hoard.
This donation takes the fundraising total past the £3.3 million needed to acquire the hoard which is terrific news!

It is absolutely fantastic that the Hoard will be returning home to the Midlands.  It is part of Staffordshire’s culture and heritage and belongs where Staffordshire people can appreciate it.  I’m thrilled.

Everyone needs to be congratulated on the fund-raising efforts so far, especially the members of the public who have made individual donations.

While this is an excellent milestone to reach the fundraising doesn’t stop there. Now a further £1.7 million is needed to ensure that the vital cleaning, conservation and research work takes place.

We are working with Lichfield District and Tamworth District Councils, and with the Birmingham and Potteries Museums to create a Mercian Trail that will make the story of the region, as the epicentre of the ancient Kingdom of Mercia, come alive and be accessible to everyone. 

The trail has enormous cultural, educational and tourism potential that can be developed through the story of the Staffordshire Hoard and I for one am very excited about the plans unveil the story throughout the region.

Work is also underway to develop a touring exhibition that would start life at the Shire Hall Gallery in Stafford and tell the story of the Hoard through the archaeologist’s eye.

We must remain committed to fundraising and im urging all of you to do the same. A reminder that people can book their tickets to a Staffordshire Hoard Auction this Saturday. Find out more here

Fundraising events are also listed at www.artfund.org/hoard

Binge drinking – it affects the whole community

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

We have announced today that a key priority over the next year will be to work with our other public bodies in Staffordshire to tackle the damage caused by irresponsible drinking.

At Full Council today we discussed the obvious effects that binge drinking has on the individual but also the knock on effect to communities and the tax payer. Many issues affecting communities have alcohol as an underlying factor and these need to be tackled together by councils, police, health organisations and other public bodies.

I must stress that the county council is not seeking any law changes as the vast majority of people in this county enjoy alcohol responsibly. Our country pubs in Staffordshire are fantastic community venues and of course we have a long established and successful brewing industry which we can take pride in as it supports our local economy.

No, we aren’t being killjoys either; I enjoy a drink in my local like anyone. We are simply going to be targeting our work at those that consistently over do it.

People that binge don’t think about how everyone else including their families will end up paying for it. You only have to look at the immense pressure our Accident and Emergency Departments are under due to people suffering from alcohol related injuries.  

We will be working with all partners to ensure everyone is allocating resources to tackle this growing problem. As ever I will endeavour to keep you up to date with plans via my blog.

Take a look at this news piece which covers our debate in full council today

Book ticket for Hoard valuation day now

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Morning all, a reminder that anyone who would like to bod for a bargain or get their collectables valued at the Staffordshire Hoard Valuation and Auction Day should book their tickets as soon as possible.

The event which the county council has organised is being held at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre on Saturday March 27 and is proving to be so popular that our organisers are urging people to book their free ticket now to avoid disappointment.

Find out more about the days events here.

Staffordshire wins historic minerals change

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Some of you may have read my previous blog entries about our Minerals Madness campaign which aimed to get a fair deal for quarrying in Staffordshire.
The two main reasons for lobbying were because despite being No 1 for quarrying in the county it was proposed that we will have to increase this which frankly wasn’t going to be sustainable and would blight some areas of our beautiful countryside.

I’m delighted to say that we fought our cause to get environmental justice and today we were informed that we had won! The West Midlands Regional agreed this morning on a new and sustainable approach to allocating minerals which will achieve a much fairer allocation.
This will mean the demands for sand and gravel placed on the Staffordshire countryside drop by over 10%.

I’ve said it before, I appreciate that quarrying is important for economy but it is so important that we don’t start to put pressure on the countryside and communities.

Can I thank the hundreds of you that supported the campaign and signed our e-petition. It is proof that we can unite to make our voices heard regionally and get a fair deal for everyone.

Extended rent freeze to help businesses

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

It is so important that during these hard financial times we do everything we can to help our business community in Staffordshire stay afloat. Im pleased to say that without any hesitation the whole cabinet agreed today to extend the rent freeze for companies at the council’s 13 business centres for another year.

Businesses at Lymedale, Silverdale and Newcastle Under Lyme, Cannock, Burton, Stafford and Uttoxeter will continue to benefit from the employer friendly measure which forms part of our wider recession action package.

Small and medium size companies’ employ 72% of the workforce in Staffordshire – and probably produce way over 50% of the counties total economic output. They are the unsung heroes of our economy!

Take a look at the video below to find out more about the county council’s reasonably priced business space

Staying No 1 for child road safety

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

When we went to the elections in June last year one of the main issues that cropped up on many doorsteps time and time again was the state of our roads and child safety on the roads . We spoke to lots of parents who simply wanted the roads around their child’s school to be safer.

Following this we listened to people and made sure this issue was tackled head on by making it a clear manifesto priority.

As soon as we took up office we pumped an extra £30million into our highways and also introduced a trial of 20mph zones at eights schools, one in each district.

The pilots really have proved successful and extremely popular with parents, which is why we have made the decision to introduce part time 20mph zones at appropriate schools across the entire county.

We are already No1 in the country for child road safety but I believe it is important that we are not complacent and work our utmost to maintain these safety standards. After all one child’s death on our roads is one too many – a message we received loud and clear from all of you over the last 6 months.

Take a look at this news feature below to find out more

Meetings take to the road during County Buildings maintenance

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I am lucky enough to be based at the fantastic County Buildings in Martin Street, Stafford. We regularly hold our Cabinet meetings in the Oak Room and Full Council in the Council Chamber. Nothing compares to actually being in the grade 2 listed building but you can get a glimpse of what these rooms are like by watching our live webcasts here. It really is one of the finest examples of late Victorian civic architecture in the country.

Because the building is listed it is important we maintain it and essential maintenance work means that the county council will be taking democracy on the road over the coming months.

Our meetings of Cabinet and Full Council will travel to locations around Staffordshire starting this week with Cabinet being held at Newcastle-under-Lyme College on Wednesday.

It really is great opportunity to take some of our key meetings on the road. Hopefully people would never normally consider coming to a meeting will have the opportunity to discover how local democracy works close to them.

Make sure you tune in live at 10am on Wednesday.

Newcastle under Lyme’s big shopping campaign is launched

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Many of you will remember the Shop Uttoxeter campaign that ran last year and encouraged residents to support local traders in the town. Over the next few months we will be taking the campaign to the streets of Newcastle-under-Lyme to promote the fantastic local traders there.

The campaign kicks off on Friday March 19 at the Farmers’ Market – and right now campaigners are out and about getting more and more shops and traders on board, putting up posters and raising awareness. 

The campaign has even generated a video on You-Tube produced by local video company – Inspired Film and Video.  

I think this campaign is very important as it not only highlights the quality of local trade but also supports people through difficult financial times. When we walk down a high street these days there many towns look and feel the same with large chain shops dominating the high street. Newcastle-under-Lyme on the other hand is packed with added value – history, charm, character and identity.

Take a look at the video below to find out more

Anyone who wants to be involved, and to be in with the chance of winning a prize in the monthly Shop Newcastle under Lyme draw, can find out more by going to www.staffordshire.gov.uk/shopnewcastle

Council urges residents to back quarry quota campaign

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

The Mineral Madness campaign aims to ensure that Staffordshire gets a fair deal when quarrying over the coming years. Although the campaign is going from strength to strength the sands of time are running out for Staffordshire residents, businesses and other organisations to back the county council’s campaign and sign the e-petition.

Find out more here www.staffordshire.gov.uk/mineralmadness

BBC Bargain Hunt’s Charles Hanson joins auction event to help save the Hoard

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

As the campaign to keep the hoard in the Mercia region hots up all partners are thinking creatively about how we can raise money for the Art Fund.

At the county council we are excited as renowned auctioneer Charles Hanson from the BBC’s Bargain Hunt series had joined the campaign to save the Staffordshire Hoard.

Charles will descend on Stafford later this month to lead a fundraising valuation day and auction event that we have organised at the county council.

All monies raised will go towards the acquisition, display and interpretation of the Hoard.

The free event is on Saturday March 27 and will take place from 2pm to 5pm at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre.

All we need now is your help! We are inviting members of the public to seek out any unwanted quality items, antiques, collectables, or anything which would appeal to a potential buyer which can be auctioned at the fun event.

We are also inviting people to bring items along to the event to have then valued by Charles and his team of experts from Hansons.

Find out how you can donate items to the auction and attend the event here

I hope that as many people as possible will come out and support the event. I will be going into my loft and looking for items to donate, why not try yourself, you never know what you may find!

To find out more about the Hoard fundraising effort people can visit www.artfund.org/hoard