Archive for January, 2011

Going back to local roots

Monday, January 31st, 2011

As Leader of the county council I have to spend a lot of time representing Staffordshire at regional and national level. Hence the (sometimes seemingly endless) round of meetings in Birmingham, London and further afield.

It’s important work, but I have to remember I am only a county councillor because of the electorate of Uttoxeter Rural.

So it was nice to spend some time focusing on local issues. I was at last week’s Uttoxeter Forum, which was well attended, and where there was a real focus on our gritting of our roads so far this winter, explaining the mechanics of a massive undertaking involving 120 drivers on 64 gritting lorries, snow ploughs and the cost each time they go out. There was an challenge as to what can communities do to help each other where we can’t reach such as by keeping an eye on neighbours, not doing unnecessary journey and doing elderly neighbour’s shopping. There have also been 1,000 requests for extra grit boxes and the criteria was explained and also the cost of £1000 each. Could Parish Councils fund this?

Time and again, people tell us that the highways are a big priority for them. And during the winter gritting is top concern.

After last year’s bitter winter we took the strategic decision to double the county’s stockpile of gritting salt – even though cynics told us it would probably sit in storage unused.

All I can say is, thank goodness we did, otherwise we’d would have been in trouble this winter before Christmas. The relatively mild January has helped stocks recover.

Since I last posted Cabinet has approved our MTFS – our five-year spending plan. We continue to be in a strong position financially. You can find some of the details here

Cabinet meets again to this week to discuss this year’s budget and make a final recommendation to Full Council which meets on February 10. This week’s Cabinet will be informed by the thorough grilling received by colleagues on the Assets and Budget Scrutiny Committee on Friday.

Calling all Staffordshire traders!

Friday, January 28th, 2011

There’s a lot in Staffordshire to be proud of, and that includes the things we make and grow.

 Staffordshire County Council is keen to support a “Made in Staffordshire” brand to build on this. But the idea needs to be driven by business if it’s to work

Today I attended a Great British Farmhouse Breakfast event at Amerton Farm, at Stowe-by-Chartley. The event is supported by Taste of Staffordshire, a campaign dedicated to promoting quality home grown Staffordshire produce.

And I used the occasion to launch a business consultation over the Made in Staffordshire concept. Initial research told us that many firms would support this. Now we want to go a step further and show there is commitment to putting in some real work towards making it happen.

 Business can fill in the survey at:

Trip to No 10

Monday, January 10th, 2011

I’m just rushing to catch the train. I’m meeting David Cameron at No 10 later today. I’ll update you as soon as possible.

In fact I’ll be spending more of the next seven days in London than Staffordshire. I’ve got meetings at the County Councils Network, my regular commitment to LG Group Executive of the Local Government Association where I represent the West Midlands, and a meeting at Canary Wharf to discuss business promotion opportunities.

Doing my bit to keep Staffordshire County Council in the national spotlight. I’ll be back for a LEP meeting on Thursday evening.

‘E’ is for Enterprise

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Today I attended the first Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP event at Keele University. It included a number of key speakers including our very own chief executive Nick Bell. Each speaker gave us an overview of what the new LEP is all about and how it will work with business to make the county a more prosperous place.

The shadow board members and I were delighted to see the room full of business representatives and those from voluntary and public sector organisations.

To have such an interest at such an early stage is fantastic and shows how together we’re very much looking forward to driving our economy forward through local business. The LEP is very much business led; but Staffordshire County Council has an integral part to play. One of our main priorities is supporting local business and you can see examples of how we’re doing this on our Staffordshire Means Business website.

Today was about setting out the aims of the LEP, but more importantly listening to and involving the businesses which will ultimately drive the LEP.

Thank you to the 250 of you who made it through the snow to attend. If you would like to find out more go to