Archive for November, 2010

Another busy week

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Things have been busy since I last blogged.

 Last week I attended the County Council Network conference in Crawley. Following the conference I held one of our regular update meetings with Staffordshire MPs at Parliament, accompanied by our Chief Executive Nick Bell.

 A lot of my time is currently spent meeting county councillors out on their patch discussing local issues. I’ve held six of these district meeting in the Moorlands; Newcastle; Stafford; South Staffordshire; Tamworth; Lichfield. Only Cannock and my own district of East Staffordshire to go.

 At the weekend I helped to put up the Christmas tree in Rocester with my tractor. There was a minor issue because someone had parked on exactly the spot it was due go up, but that was soon dealt with.

Never too late to train

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I can’t stay away from trains at the moment. At the weekend I was delighted to go to a celebration event marking the return of passenger traffic on the Froghall to Caldon Low line in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

The work is thanks to volunteers from the Churnet Valley Railway. The line closed to passenger traffic in 1935. It is a wonderful achievement for an entirely voluntary group.

 I was delighted to attend the event but declined the opportunity to take another train journey.

Last week I attended the West Midlands Stars for Skills Awards at the Hippodrome theatre in Birmingham. The awards look at some of the work done on training and retraining that is funded in the region by the European Social Fund.

This is essential work to ensure that we have a skilled workforce that will make our businesses truly competitive – regular blog readers will know how importantly I view this.

The judges were looking for nominees with the best story to tell about their experiences. I was particularly impressed with the examples of people who have retrained later on in their career, typically after reaching the age of 50, and those who have retrained following redundancy. Congratulations to all the nominees.

Finally, I am proud to announce the birth of my second grandchild. Little Noah’s arrival wasn’t exactly straightforward (maybe more or this later), but he is now back home and doing well.

Jet-setting – by rail

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

I’ve just returned (eventually) from Brussels where I was speaking at the European Commission.

I was there to address a meeting of the Pan European PURPLE Network, speaking alongside colleagues from France and the Netherlands.

The PURPLE group aims to develop policies for what are known as Peri-Urban regions (which put the “P” and “U” in PURPLE).

The definition of peri-urban could be “somewhere like Staffordshire”. We have a large population of almost a million people. But we have no large urban centres with a population of over 100,000, but our economy both benefits from and is challenged by the proximity of big cities like Birmingham and Manchester.

My message was really that national and international planers and policy makers really need to address issues that affect peri-urban areas and ignore them at their peril – giving them a proper name would be a good start.

 The full text of my speech will go on the PURPLE website at:

Getting out to Brussels on the Eurostar was a doddle, but getting back wasn’t. My train leaving Belgium was delayed by 20 minutes which meant I missed my connection in London. I eventually got on a train for Wolverhampton and landed home at 2.30am. Just time for a nap before an 8am meeting in Stafford then jumping on another train to Birmingham.

Today I’m going to London – it’s my day a month representing the West Midlands at the LG Group Executive. Another day on the train.

Getting the recognition they deserve

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Another exceptionally busy few days.

I’ve attended the Trent & Dove Housing Impact on the Community Awards. event has taken place with individuals and organizations once again being recognised for their work in the community in East Staffordshire.

Finalists in each of the eleven awards categories joined together with event sponsors and organisers in “red carpet” celebrations that were held at the Branston Golf and Country club.

Much of the work happens behind the scenes and people deserve some recognition for improving their neighbourhoods.

Congratulations to all who won.

I’ve also found time to get out and visit Standon Bowers Outdoor Education Centre and see the innovative work Outdoor Education does with our children. Chris Dillon is in the picture. There’s quite a lot going on at the centre at the moment, and there were over a hundred children and staff from four different schools. Most of these were engaged in various activities around the grounds and it was good to have a look at what they were up to and the excellent opportunities for our Staffordshire children.