Archive for August, 2015

Creating a Brighter Future for Staffordshire children

Friday, August 21st, 2015

The culmination of years of work and the waiting was finally over this week for Staffordshire students who have been busy collecting their results for both GCSE and A Level studies.

Congratulations to young people across the county who have achieved excellent results with early indications from 43 of our schools showing that 57% of students achieved 5 A* – C including English and Mathematics.

Although we are yet to collate the final data, initial results indicate that our steady GCSE improvement appears to be continuing in line with national trends.

For those students who didn’t get exactly as they had hoped with their grades – all is not lost. There is lots of help on hand out there to advise and guide them on next steps, and I would urge all of them to take a look before feeling too disappointed.

Parents can also help too –Bright Futures is the council’s dedicated online tool which offers information on places to study and most interestingly looks at where future jobs are likely to be available in Staffordshire, and crucially what qualifications are needed for these roles.

Our congratulations go out to each and every student who has collected their result recently and I wish them the best of luck in any future education or employment they go to embark on.

Last week friendships flourished once again for the Staffordshire and German teenagers who united to tend to the war graves at the German Military Cemetery on Cannock Chase.

It was great to see so many teenagers visiting from Germany and I know they value their time with us here in Staffordshire. Not only does it give all the children a chance to build new friendships but also the chance to improve their language skills, learn more about the history of the World Wars, and be involved in projects that concentrate on the theme of peace and reconciliation.

Over the next two weeks, the young people will be taking part in different activities including outings to the National Memorial Arboretum, Coventry Cathedral and RAF Cosford as well as visits to the Trentham Estate and Alton Towers.

I am sure you will all join me in welcoming them to Staffordshire.

County Farms – supporting our rural economy

Friday, August 14th, 2015

It is easy to forget that our County is 80% rural and with an economy that makes an enormous contribution to Staffordshire’s overall prosperity, it’s vital that we support our local agricultural and land based sectors.

Despite current pressures across food production, we know we will need more food in the long term and an initiative that we are very proud of that’s helping grow our rural economy is the work with our County Farms.  Our 95 farms not only make a valuable contribution to our overall economy but give people the chance to get a foot in the agricultural sector, helping to set many up for a long and successful career.

We really value the hard work and commitment of our tenants, many of whom have established thriving enterprises and help to generate over half-a-million pounds each year for the county council.  As a farmer myself, I know how busy and important this time of year is in preparing for the winter and ensuring crops are harvested and there’s good fodder in store for the animals and ultimately local food for us to eat locally.

People can also do their bit for the sector by buying British and looking out for the Red Tractor logo on food products – another way of knowing you are buying assured produce and supporting UK and local producers.

With the summer in full swing, I want to remind young people and their parents of the many fun activities available across the county through the recently revamped ‘Space Scheme’.  Readers of a certain age may recall fond memories of the project from the 1980s and 90s when it proved incredibly popular.  Well, the project is back, being organised by the Police and Crime Commissioners Office. There’s a whole range of sporting events, arts and crafts and music production, all designed to increase young people’s skills and improve health and general wellbeing.  Activities run until 5 September through the summer holidays, so I would encourage people to get involved.

It will also be an exciting and nervous time in many households over the next few weeks as teenagers across the county start to get their A-Level and GCSE results.  I would like to say a big congratulations to everyone who got the grades they needed and to those who maybe didn’t get exactly what they wanted, not to panic, help is at hand.

Careers Advisers from Entrust will be available in schools on results days to advise people on their options.  Parents may also want to visit www.brightfuturesstaffordshire.co.uk   http://www.brightfuturesstaffordshire.co.uk  for information on places to study and where future jobs are likely to be in Staffordshire.  Getting good careers advice is essential.  There are lots of learning options and it’s important that young people pick the right learning style for them.  After A-levels for example, you could choose university, apprenticeships, training and employment, or college – there are so many options available.

Last week entries opened for the Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 and just like last year, places sold out in record time.  Once again, the event, on Sunday, 12 June will see competitors complete a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile half marathon.  They’ll do the same route as last year, starting at Chasewater Country Park, passing through Cannock Chase, before finishing at Shugborough.  The first event was a real success, helping to showcase the county and I’m sure next year will be even better.

Funding boost for Superfast Staffordshire

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

You will be already aware of our exciting Superfast Staffordshire project working with BT and BDUK that’s delivering high speed fibre broadband to homes and businesses across the county.

Last year we invested over £8m in the project which has already seen over 53,000 premises enabled but I am pleased to report that we have had an additional £2.4 million.

We know how important faster internet connections are for everyone and the extra funding from BT means that we will be able to get even more people connected, in particular  those properties in hard to reach places.  You can keep up to date with the project at www.superfaststaffordshire.co.uk.

There’s more good news for historians interested in Staffordshire and anyone finding out more about their own family history.  Last July we launched a project with Findmypast to get six million of our historical records online and we are now over half way.  This latest batch of records dates back over 360 years and includes baptism and death certificates for some notable local characters.  Lord Uxbridge who fought at the Battle of Waterloo, canal engineer James Brindley, Reginald Joseph Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire and Dr Samuel Johnson, one of the greatest contributors to English Literature are all featured in the collection.

Staffordshire has a lot to be proud of and it’s great news that people can search through the records online or in our libraries and record offices.  We hope to have the remaining records online by Autumn but you can make a start at www.findmypast.co.uk

1 May voted as Staffordshire Day to celebrate the county’s 1,000th anniversary

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

Over the last few weeks we’ve been giving people the chance to vote for Staffordshire day to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the first recorded mention of the county next year.  People were asked to vote for their preferred date from a short list of five.  Voting closed on Friday and I can reveal that the most popular date was 1 May, the day that Josiah Wedgwood set up his world famous pottery business.  It’s no great surprise that this date was so popular with people as the Wedgwood name is synonymous with Staffordshire, supplying goods across the world and supporting thousands of jobs over the last centuries.

There were five notable dates to choose from, which also included the discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard, the birth date of diarist Dr Samuel Johnson, the death date of James Brindley, famous for canal building, and the day when King Charles II hid in the oak tree in Boscobel House in South Staffordshire.

Now that we have the date, the plans for the celebrations can get underway, and we will be encouraging residents and local communities to organise their own community events and make suggestions for things they would like to see to mark the day.  It would also be good to see our local tourism providers getting involved, putting on their own celebrations to help attract even more people to our great county.  There will be more information available at www.enjoystaffordshire.com/staffsday over the next weeks and months.

And more great news at our flagship business park at Redhill in Stafford as Birmingham based Trebor Developments, working with US firm Rockspring, have submitted a planning application for a development at the site.

It’s very encouraging to see that our £10million investment in the site to boost economic growth and create more jobs in the area is now coming to fruition so quickly.  Stafford’s biggest employer, engineering giant Alstom, has already started work on a new facility on site, and will build a second facility on two more plots.  With just two plots now unoccupied, it’s further testament to our hard work encouraging our economy to grow and demonstrates the commitment by our business partners to Staffordshire.  I’m sure it won’t be long before the final two plots are occupied.

From Stafford to Rugeley and the exciting plans for a major flood defence scheme which will help pave the way for the regeneration of the town.  The scheme in partnership with Cannock Chase District Council and the Environment Agency will lead to the development of homes and businesses and 330 new or safeguarded jobs.  The project will see more than 100 existing homes and business premises protected by the construction of a 370-metre long embankment along Western Springs Road.  Around 140 new homes will be built, in addition to other town centre and transport improvements – all helping to unlock Rugeley’s future potential.