Archive for October, 2010

Building Staffordshire business for today, tomorrow and the future

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Today’s announcement by Vince Cable that the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent LEP has been given the go-ahead is fantastic news.

We’ve worked incredibly hard with our businesses and other local authority partners to sell our case, and that hard work has paid dividends. We were on the list of 24 successful applications released at lunchtime.

This hasn’t been straightforward and there is still a lot to do. But I’m now convinced we can bring jobs and increased prosperity to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. Business must lead the process, but we’ll be behind in support as much as possible.

 The next significant milestone comes next Monday when the shadow LEP board holds its first meeting. We will formulate the board-proper and appoint a chairman –it will be someone from the business community, not a politician. We will also begin to prepare bids to the Regional Growth Fund. Without a successful LEP application this £1 billion cashpot would be closed to us.

I’d like to congratulate the county’s Animal Health Team. I’ve just met one of the team returning from an RSPCA awards ceremony in London.

 They picked up an innovation award for the work done helping farmers prepare for flooding to protect their animals. I’ve seen at first hand the consequences that flooding can have on livestock and it is not pleasant.

 This isn’t something the team have a statutory obligation to address, but they recognised there was a problem and dealt with it. Hopefully other authorities will follow.

Spending review announcement is no shock

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Like most people, I’ve been glued to the news in the run up to today’s long awaited comprehensive spending review announcement.

And, I have to say, after months of speculation I am pleased our proactive approach has meant I am not shocked by the reports.

 I’d like to reassure the people of Staffordshire that we are well prepared to face the challenges that lie ahead.

 We have worked very hard to make sure that the county council is in the best possible position to deal with these difficult times as the nation climbs out of debt.

 As a county council we are committed to deliver our fair share of the nation’s savings through innovative ways of working, promoting enterprise and through better collaboration.

 The Coalition Government’s top priority is to reduce the National Debt while maintaining a focus on fairness and support for the most vulnerable.

Today’s announcement identifies a 7.1% annual saving over the next four years which will need to be saved by local government

 However individual funding allocations for councils will not be announced until December.

 I’m keen for Staffordshire to play its part in reducing the National Debt, but the county council will be keeping a clear focus on local people and their needs – not nationally imposed targets.

 I passionately believe today is not a black day for the public sector; there are great possibilities for the whole of the Staffordshire public sector to improve by working smarter, more collaboratively, and focusing our resources and efforts into the things that really matter to people.

 This is a real opportunity to make this happen and the county council is determined to be a driving force to make sure it does.

 Since winning the election fifteen months ago, we have worked hard to build a sound financial base and already have a good record of achieving significant savings.

 We will do this by continuing to listen to residents, improve the economic prosperity of families and the county and being there for the most vulnerable, children and adults, who cannot help themselves.

Staffordshire shines at Good Food Awards

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

I was treated to some of the finest cuisine that the county has to offer when I attended the Good Food Awards.

The prestigious event promotes the excellent taste and top quality of the food and drink sourced from Staffordshire.

The annual celebration attracted food fans from far and wide and was attended by a range of businesses.

I was lucky enough to be able to present an award to Denstone Hall Farm Tea Shop which was a real honour.

The awards ceremony was a real showcase for home grown talent, with local companies truly flying the flag for Staffordshire.

This event really proves how local entrepreneurs are helping to put the county on the map.

Marty’s golden anniversary

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

This job is always hard work, but sometimes it is also a great pleasure.

And today I had the great pleasure of taking tea with the county council’s longest serving employee, Marty Whitehouse. Marty is celebrating her golden anniversary with us.

When Marty joined the authority on October 3 1960 Harold Macmillan was PM, Dwight D Eisenhower was President of the US and the Beatles were still looking for a recording contract.

Marty started working right at the beginning of the ICT revolution, inputting data into the county council’s first mainframe computer. 

You can see some of the original card index machines that Marty used in her old photographs. 150 cards a day were measured not counted I am reliably informed! And the computer had a handle on it! Apparently for multiplication you turned the handle the times you wanted.

She is still working in our admin team, helping to mentor young workers, even though she had the opportunity to retire several years ago.

Congratulations, and keep up the good work.

I have been attending a conference this week. The non-party political nature of this blog prevents me from saying which one. However I can say that having it within commuting distance has been a huge help and has generally meant I can work in Staffordshire in the morning and attend in the afternoon.

I got on the train at Birmingham New Street at 8.55pm on Monday and was home at just after 10 o’clock. You can’t manage that from Bournemouth.

Vote for Charlotte today!

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Congratulations to Charlotte Bailey for being shortlisted for the Guardian Public Servant of the Year 2010 award.

The nomination recognises Charlotte’s work as Parents’ Commissioner, which included consulting with over 2000 Staffordshire parents to produce a the county council’s parenting strategy.

Through this work, Charlotte realised that the county council needed to improve the way we work with parents and has done a great deal of work to make this happen.

To be shortlisted in such prestigious national awards is a great accolade. We now need to make sure Charlotte becomes a winner.

Please pledge your support and vote for Charlotte go to:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/publicservicesawards/vote

The closing date is 29 October 2010. Please note you can only vote once so ask your family and friends to vote too.

The county council has another entry shortlisted in the Guardian Public Services Award. Our entry on the Dementia Navigator Scheme in North Staffordshire has been short listed in the ‘Service Delivery’ category, under sub category ‘Families and Communities’. This is really important work, and although the entry is not judged by public vote but you can read more at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/publicservicesawards/shortlist-2010

Flying the county flag

Friday, October 1st, 2010

I had the huge honour of hoisting the Staffordshire flag over the county’s top tourist attraction, Shugborough, on Wednesday.

The flagpole formerly flew the flag of the Earls of Lichfield when they were in residence. But now the current Earl has vacated the private apartments.

We couldn’t have an empty flagpole at such an important location, Especially as Shugborough is unveiling some really exciting new developments this week.

The Boudoir in the mansion house is to be displayed to visitors from today as a special sneak preview ahead of the opening of Patrick Lichfield’s private apartments next year. The project is called Shugborough Revisited.

It is anticipated that the scale of these developments will lead to a surge in visitors. It is critical that we look to industries such as tourism to secure long term growth for our economy and the county council leads the way in developing the county’s rich assets.

Some people still think that Shugborough is run by the National Trust, which is understandable as there is a trust shop there. In fact it is owned by the trust, but run and managed by the county council and has been since 1966.

The estate has often been described as the jewel in the county’s crown and is something we should be proud of. It is a wonderful educational resource as well as a popular tourist attraction.”

A fascinating blog about the Shugborough Revisited project has also been launched and visitors can find out more at http://www.shugboroughrevisited.com/