Archive for June, 2010

My reaction to today’s budget announcement

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

My reaction to today’s budget announcement

We have been working hard to get ahead of the game and pre-judge what might be in today’s announcement. I am pleased to say there were no real surprises.

We know that we need to find an additional £7.9 million of savings this financial year.  We have to accept that the nation has been living beyond its means and cuts in public sector spending are essential.

We will not hide any difficult decisions. Staffordshire tax payers deserve to know where they are and so do our staff. We will be guided by what is best for our communities.

 It won’t be easy, but there are very genuine reasons for being positive.

 We know we will have less money to spend, but we will have greater scope to decide for ourselves how we spend it. We will not have to follow a tick box culture. There is real optimism that Government now realises that we know our county, our communities and our business best.

 Cabinet will be meeting informally tomorrow and financial planning will be top of the list of things we discuss.

Making it easier for you

Friday, June 18th, 2010

I always think it is very important to make sure that if we ask the public for feedback on our services, we listen and be prepared to make changes.  

One of things that some of you have told us over the last year is that our main contact number with a Stafford area code is confusing and not representative of a countywide organisation.

We took your comments on board and in response to this we have now launched our brand new general enquiries number and extended opening hours.

The new easy to remember county council number – 0300 111 8000 – has replaced the former switchboard number of 01785 223 121. Our extended opening hours mean that you can access our services from 8am–8pm Monday – Thursday, 8am–6pm on Friday and 9am–1pm on Saturday.

The phone number is charged at local rate and is part of our customer service commitment. It is important that as residents you know that you are our number one priority and we need to be here at times to suit you.  

The more convenient hours are crucial. The former number was only available during ‘office’ hours, which is obviously not ideal for people who work those hours too. 

We also felt there was a need to get away from a Stafford dialling code. Stafford is important, but Staffordshire is a large, diverse county, and all parts are of equal importance to us.

Make sure you all remember to make a note of the number or pop it in your mobile phone.

My family and I will heading back home tomorrow and it’ll be straight back to county council business and work on the farm for me. Look out for my post in response to the budget announcements on Tuesday.

Bye for now

Have you signed up to YeS?

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

If you live in Staffordshire you will receive our county magazine Your Staffordshire. To accompany this publication we now have YeS, an e-magazine that will be delivered straight to your inbox four times a year.

 It aims to keep you up to date with latest news and information from around the county and is a perfect way to find out what is going on in your community. There are some great opportunities to win prizes from some of Staffordshire’s most popular attractions.  Why not try your luck today. You can subscribe here http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/yourcouncil/ys/e-newsletter/subscribe/SubscribeApp.aspx

Anne makes us proud

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Hello all – I was sent word yesterday that a staff member from the county council been recognised through the award of an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Consumer Advice Team Leader Anne Beer has been singled out for her outstanding work in protecting the public over the last two decades. Anne’s role involves ensuring that the public get the best support regarding fraudulent activity, potential scams and their rights as a consumer.

Not only does it highlight the importance of Anne’s team it is also extremely well timed with World Anti-counterfeiting day this week! I know that Anne’s colleagues speak very highly of her and I think she should be extremely proud of this fantastic achievement. Thanks for your excellent work Anne, congratulations!

Supporting from afar

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Hi to all from down under. My family and I have been having a wonderful time out here in beautiful Australia but as promised I am still making sure that news from back home gets through.

Earlier this month some of you may have seen in the news that the county council used the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002 for the first time with our own financial investigations officer. This meant we could apply to confiscate money made from crime. I was delighted that it resulted in a Staffordshire resident being ordered to pay back over £20,000 to public funds.

This sent out a clear message that we will not tolerate counterfeiting activity in Staffordshire and will do what we can to stamp this out.  World Anti-Counterfeiting Day is upon us and is an annual event that aims to raise awareness around this kind of activity. Im pleased to announce that so far in 2010 our Trading Standards officers have seized over £440,000 worth of goods. These goods will be recycled where possible or disposed of but its important to make it clear to consumers that by purchasing fake goods they are supporting the criminal activity. Why not take a stand to mark the annual day.

On a completely different note, as many of us are gearing up for England’s world cup match on Saturday im pleased to say that Staffordshire County Council will be flying the flag for our team. The St George’s Cross has been put in pride of place on top of the Shire Hall Gallery in the heart of Stafford. We’ve just got to hope that it will still be flying proudly until the end of the World Cup!

News of Staffordshire’s unsung heroes

Monday, June 7th, 2010

I hope you are well and enjoying the odd bout of nice weather England is getting at the moment.

After a year in power at Staffordshire County Council I am taking my first holiday with my family and am currently talking to you from Australia. We are going to be here for just over 2 weeks but I will be keeping my hand in to ensure I keep up to date with everything that is going on back in Staffordshire. I’m delighted to hear that Douglas MacMillan Hospice Volunteers, Katherine House Hospice Volunteers, Landywood and District Volunteer Help Centre, SCALE and the Volunteers of the National Memorial Arboretum, all from Staffordshire have been announced as 5 of 103 UK volunteering groups to win this year’s The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for volunteer groups.

The prestigious National Honour recognises outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others.  It sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the work of those awarded being judged of the highest standard. This leads me nicely on to our latest campaign at the county council.

To celebrate the work of volunteers across the county we are asking you to tell our about your local heroes. We have got together with Staffordshire’s Volunteer Centres and want you to tell us about people that go that extra mile. Find out more at www.volunteerstaffordshire.org.uk

 Off to enjoy a different type of sun (sorry, don’t mean to rub it in) I will be back in touch later in the week.