Archive for May, 2011

A hive of activity at Uttoxeter

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Popped into Uttoxeter Library on 28 May to pick up my mother-in-law’s disabled badge, which was very easy to obtain. IT services at the library were in full flow with busy use of the computers and people using the self service machines to pick up books. It was a real hive of activity and it‘s good to see our community hubs in full flow.

Honing in on healthy outcomes

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I attended a joint meeting between NHS and local authority leaders from the West Midlands in Birmingham on Friday 27 May to discuss strategies for improving health outcomes for our local communities.  Communication is central to achieving this objective and I’ll be working closely with colleagues on getting the right messages across.

These youngsters have real drive…

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

On 25 May I visited the Tamworth Campus of South Staffordshire College where I act as a Governor. I met with the Head of the Construction, Engineering and Science faculty and talked about the future business links needed to promote apprenticeships. I also met with young engineers working on a racing car project and was encouraged to see them acquiring the kind of training that will equip them with skills to get real jobs in the future.

Flying the flag for Staffordshire

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Staffs Flag Eland HouseEric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, is a man with many varied interests and he has a real enthusiasm for historic flags. As a result he’s had each county flag flying in turn outside his Department’s HQ at Eland House in London. Last week the privilege was Staffordshire’s and here’s a photo of our flag resplendent in the summer sunshine

A healthy debate

Friday, May 20th, 2011

On the same day I attended a meeting in London of the Local Government Group with Paul Burrow, Minister of State for Care Services who spoke about health reform. Some very interesting ideas arose from the discussion and I’ll be keeping a watching brief on how these ideas develop.

Technically speaking it’s a matter of “Trust”

Friday, May 20th, 2011

On 19 May I visited the Baker Dearing Trust in Millbank, London who are behind the UK’s first academy dedicated to engineering and one of the University Technical Colleges established by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust. I met with Lord Ken Baker and Peter Mitchell during my visit. Peter was formerly the Headmaster at Thomas Alleynes High School and is now Chief Executive at the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, and is doing a sterling job on behalf of the Trust, which offers 14 -19 years olds  the opportunity to undertake high quality training in a technical vocation.

Lest we forget…

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

I also attended a special ceremony on 17 May at the National Memorial Arboretum, the UK’s year round centre of Remembrance in Arlewas, at which Commander Charles Jewitt discussed the NMA’s plan’s to campaign to create a world-class Remembrance Centre. The Arboretum’s redevelopment campaign was launched in April by HRH Prince William during his visit to the Arboretum and the Prince has agreed to be patron of the appeal.  Honouring those who give so much for their country is a cause well worth supporting and you can find out more about the redevelopment campaign and how to contribute on the NMA website.

Leading by example

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Our senior management conference took place on 17 May. We gathered round to talk effective leadership and there’s no better example of this than Gavin Morris, Head Teacher at Flash Ley Community Primary School. He’s an inspiration and we learned how, under Gavin’s leadership, staff, pupils and parents have rallied round to transform the schools fortunes. Leading by example, inspiring others and encouraging personal responsibility – these are the tools of effective leadership and it falls on all our managers throughout the county council to deploy these tools. That’s what we’re aiming for as that’s what makes for a better service for the public.

A fully packed Friday the 13th!

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Superstitious types tend to stay indoors on Friday 13th but fortunately I’m not so anxious about this date, which is just as well as I had quite a busy day.  It started with a visit to my local school, which rather than focusing on the supernatural had a pirate theme for the day.

I then went on to Birmingham Airport to witness the opening the new “One Terminal”, which merges the airport’s two terminals into one. This is part of a multi-million pound redevelopment which sees a larger centralised passenger security search area, an enlarged arrivals and onward travel facility, and increased shops, cafes and restaurants. The opening ceremony was performed by the Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond and I’ve invited Philip to come to speak to the council. While we’re supportive of the plans to expand the airport there is considerable opposition amongst us to the high speed rail proposals that Phillip is pushing hard for so this should be a lively debate! I will keep you posted on when this is likely to happen.

I also met Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for a brief chat about how Staffordshire County Council is supporting rural farming by investing £1 million in county farms. I also appeared on the Politics Show to talk about this and you can view again on the BBC iPlayer (the feature starts around 50 minutes in).

The day concluded with a visit to Cannock to see what local MP Aidan Burley is doing with his community one stop shop.

Our new Chairman Frank Lewis

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Attended the Annual Meeting of the County Council on Thursday 12 May and topping a very busy agenda was the appointment of the new Chairman of Council. Having served as a County Councillor since 1977, Frank Lewis MBE succeeds Erica Bayliss. A retired farmer, Frank is currently Chairman of the Armitage and Handsacre Village Hall Trustees and is also a school governor for Armitage Croft Primary School. I’d like to wish Frank all the best in a role I am sure he will enjoy. I would also like to say a special thank you to Frank’s predecessor, Erica Bayliss, for her hard work as Chairman over the past year. She served with great distinction and I wish her every success in the future.