Archive for July, 2012

Schools out for Summer

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Its starting to feel like summer with Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France, the sun coming out, the Olympics all set to start, schools out and the roads less crowded.

What a change in the weather, I would like to thank my farming friends for moving my sheep out of harms way, safely up out of the flood plain and on to higher ground after a month’s rain fall was forecast for one day.

I am in full support of the 2,000+ dairy farmers went down to Westminster Hall in protest to the cuts. 100 were from Uttoxeter alone, lobbying MPs about dire milk price with yet more angry farmers outside. Uttoxeter dairy farmers David Brookes and Philip Smith appeared on BBC News in Westminster, the new lower milk price will threaten future milk supply.

Dairy farmers have been hit hard by the news of milk price cuts, naming and shaming supermarkets who won’t support the industry. I for one think Staffordshire needs dairy farmers. And they need to be getting a fair price for their milk.

In the last couple of weeks I have been down to the last Police Authority HR meeting, have met with Staffordshire and Stoke MP’s on our distinct economic offer with business colleagues, and caught the high speed WCML to London for the LGA Executive update.

At the West Midlands Council AGM there was discussion on how local government can improve and innovate by self help. Borrow with pride, and lend with humility.

A ‘Well done’ is in order as Staffordshire County Council received awards for print and communication, plus an award in the LGA reputation awards.

And we are all looking forward to the start of the main event this weekend… We saw 157,000 people line the streets of Staffordshire to see the Olympic Torch Relay when it passed through Staffordshire on May 30 and June 30, and the Pakistan Olympic Hockey Team have arrived safely at Cannock Hockey Club and are making the most of the fantastic facilities.

Some more great news on how we plan to save even more taxpayer’s money…

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Last week we announced at the LGA Conference in Birmingham a new partnership called Tri-Council with Shropshire Council and Worcestershire County Council which will find innovative ways of working that improves frontline services while still saving money. Our tri-council project is the largest such venture and ground breaking.

The three councils will work together on five key areas: economic growth and connectivity (including broadband and local transport); fostering, adoption and residential care; education services to schools; IT; and contract management and procurement.

Staff across the three authorities will share best practice with extensive potential for improvement, savings and growth in their local areas. The work will also complement and strengthen existing transformation programmes taking place at each local authority. For example, together we spend over £725m a year providing services for almost 1.7million residents. Combining this buying power would create economies of scale and help us to drive down costs of goods and services we buy.

As you know we are constantly looking at new ways to deliver the services our residents and businesses need and it’s vital those services are sustainable and offer local people real value for money. Over the last three years we have made a number of major innovations. This partnership – the largest in the country in terms of population and area – will now give us the shared expertise and financial clout to take this work even further.

On Saturday morning I watched the Olympic Torch Relay make its second appearance in the county and saw inspirational Torchbearer Corporal Johnson Beharry VC carry the Olympic Flame through the National Memorial Arboretum to the Wall of Remembrance. It was fantastic to see such a hero as Corporal Beharry VC play his part in the Olympic Torch Relay with the Mercian Regiment and Band of the Irish Guards and on such an important day as Armed Forces Day. The whole experience was very moving to those who were there and the people of Staffordshire should feel immensely proud of the support that they gave to the events.

I saw for myself the enthusiasm of the crowds at the event and was honoured to meet Corporal Johnson Beharry VC carrying the Torch, which was fitting tribute to our brave troops on Armed Forces Day. Johnson spoke to many of the crowd, young and old and received a cheque on behalf of the NMA for £55,250 from the Ride to the Wall.

Iraq veteran Johnson Beharry won the military’s highest bravery honour, the Victoria Cross as a private in 2004, and was promoted to a Corporal earlier this year. This was his second promotion since overcoming terrible wounds during his act of gallantry. The Caribbean-born hero won the VC for saving 30 comrades’ lives by charging down an ambush, and is the first living recipient of the VC since 1969.

Corporal Johnson was one of over 30 inspirational Torchbearers who carried the flame through the rest of the county, through Streethay, Lichfield, Hopwas, Tamworth, Great Wyrley and Newtown as it made its way towards the Black Country and Birmingham.