Archive for April, 2016

Looking ahead to IRONMAN in the summer…. And our first ever Staffordshire Day this Sunday

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

It’s not long until we once again welcome the return of the IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire taking place on 12 June.  And while places sold out in record time again this year there are still places available for the junior competition. 

A much more forgiving event, this race is open to children aged three to 14 and takes place at the Shugborough estate.  Running between 500m to 2.5km depending on the age group, it’s a terrific way to encourage kids to stay fit and will really involve them in the wider event. Families can find out more about taking part in the event athttp://eu.ironman.com/triathlon/events/emea/ironman-70.3/staffordshire.aspx.

It’s great to be able to attract such unique sports events like IRONMAN to Staffordshire and I wish everyone, including colleagues from Cabinet and our Senior Leadership Team who are taking part the best of luck.  Again, like last year, please remember that for the main event some roads will be temporarily closed to keep competitors safe during the race with diversions in place.  You can see the roads affected and get advice on planning your journey at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/ironman

Saturday (23 April) was also declared a national day of celebration in recognition of the country’s greatest playwright and poet, William Shakespeare, who died 400 years ago. The Bard had a monumental influence on the English language and our libraries played tribute to this over the weekend with a series of events and postings on social media. You might have seen some of our customers and staff who took selfies with their favourite Shakespeare quote and shared them with the hashtag #shakespeare16.  It was a fun and fitting way of celebrating the greatest contributor to The Queen’s English. and I was happy to be involved. “Once more into the breach!”

And a final reminder about our first ever Staffordshire Day now less than a week away.  Next Sunday, 1 May we’ll be celebrating one thousand years of Staffordshire and all things great about our historic county.  With over 40 events running across the county and lots of great offers from our tourism businesses it’s sure to be a memorable weekend.  You can see what events are happening near you at www.enjoystaffordshire.com/staffsday. There’s also a chance to win one of four spectacular Staffordshire Short Breaks each for a family of four. Prizes include overnight stays, family Thrill Hopper pass, theme park & attraction tickets plus meals at some of the best eateries in the county.  Remember, if you are joining in the celebrations please tweet a photo of what you’re doing using #Staffordshireday.

Celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

It’s wonderful news that Uttoxeter swimmer Adam Peaty has secured his place at the Rio Olympics later this summer. Adam has earned his place on Team GB after winning gold in the 100m breaststroke at the British Swimming Championships in Glasgow.  It’s very encouraging  to see that someone who started their career in a community pool in Uttoxeter will now be stepping up to compete against some of the world’s greatest athletes.

This is fantastic news for Adam and a great achievement, getting there Through hard work and his determination to be the best. He’s  won title after title, and we are all really proud of him and his successes.  He continues to be a great role model for many of our other young rising sports stars and I’m sure people will join me in cheering him on during the Olympics.

On Thursday, Her Majesty the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday and we wished her many happy returns on her big day. We’ve been honoured to welcome her to the county on many occasions and I have had the great pleasure of meeting her during these visits.  Her Majesty visited County Buildings in 2006 to sign her portrait on display by the grand stairway. I also saw her in 2014 at the opening of the new Jaguar Land Rover engine plant at our i54 South Staffordshire Business Park, and we had the honour of welcoming her to Lichfield Cathedral for the laying of the Colours for the Royal Mercian and Lancaster Yeomanry Regiment.

After a lifetime of devoted public service and now 90 years old, her longevity, strength and love for her people is still testament to her popularity. We very much appreciate everything she does for the country and the Commonwealth.

Those who have visited Cannock Chase will know that it is one of Staffordshire’s most beautiful areas, but it faces a big problem. Every year, cars and vehicles collide with wild deer that wander onto the roads of the Chase. There were an astonishing 167 such incidents last year.

Although we always encourage motorists to drive carefully, the number of deer-related collisions is still too high. At the very worst, these collisions can be fatal, both for the deer and for the driver.  If not fatal, they can certainly cause a lot of damage and distress to all concerned.

But a solution might now have been found. Researchers in America have found that white canvas bags attached to wooden posts deter deer from wandering onto roads, and this is something we are now trialling on the Chase. It is thought the white bags fluttering in the wind mimics the white rumps of other deer, causing them to react and stay away from the roads.  It’s such a simple idea and We do hope it helps to reduce the number of collisions.

Staying healthy, staying fit, staying safe

Friday, April 8th, 2016

Wherever they work, our trading standards team are the public’s unsung heroes. This often unseen service keeps dangerous knock-off products out of shops and off the streets before they can do any harm to unsuspecting customers.

Over this past year, the team seized over 150,000 counterfeit cigarettes with a street value of £75,000, and over 50 kilograms of illicit tobacco. Although all tobacco is harmful, counterfeit cigarettes are unregulated and are packed with dangerous chemicals like dust, asbestos and who knows what else. They were funded by crime, they would have funded crime and they would have caused untold damage to the unwary buyers.  The team provide a great service keeping us all safe.

Dementia is one of the biggest challenges facing the county and a topic I’ve spoken about many times. We’re all living longer and it is essential that we raise awareness of the services and support available for people living with dementia, along with their carers and families. It was good to get a recent mention from The Health Secretary who spoke about our excellent work. I can understand why though. Examples like the Limewood Dementia Centre, part of the £25million Northfield Village development in Stafford which was recently awarded the Stirling University Gold Standard for the care it offers.

Dementia is a devastating condition for everyone affected by it, but the county’s communities are helping these people enjoy fulfilling and meaningful lives.

Staying with health. However fit you feel, it’s very important for people aged over 40 to get a check-up at the doctor’s every so often, so here’s your reminder, the NHS health checks are free for eligible people and will usually check you over for signs of cardiovascular diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart disease or high/low blood pressure.

If you do get invited, please take them up on the offer and don’t put it off; if they believe you are at risk, it’s best to catch these signs early so they can help you make simple lifestyle changes or get the proper medical treatment. It’s a short trip that could help you on the way to a healthier, happier life.

With Rio 2016 coming this summer it’s a great time to inspire the sporting talent of the future and help them one day bring home the gold.  With this in mind, we need to invest in the county’s young athletic talent. That’s why we have been recognizing the county’s young sporting achievements through the Staffordshire Talented Athletes Fund.

We have just given almost £14,000 in grants to 31 of our most promising athletes to help with the costs of their training and equipment. We had applications from figure skaters, cricketers, canoe slalom, cyclists and a whole range of others which shows the breadth of talent.

Proud to be playing our part

Friday, April 1st, 2016

As you may have seen in the news, this week Staffordshire has welcomed the first Syrian refugees to be accommodated as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Scheme (VPS).

A total of 10 people have arrived in the county. These families, like many from Syria, are fleeing a violent civil war that has meant the country’s infrastructure, healthcare, education and economy has been virtually destroyed.

The arrivals come after months of work by the county council, along with our partners in the districts and boroughs, and Refugee Action, the charity we have commissioned to directly help them settle into their new homes. In fact, this is very much a partnership effort, and is only possible due to our boroughs and districts stepping forward.

We’re proud to be playing our part to help these people, and in total have pledged to take 50 as part of the government’s VPS scheme. The refugees from Syria in this scheme are those requiring urgent medical treatment, victims of crime and torture and the fail, young and vulnerable.

This issue always sparks a lot of debate at both a national and a local level, and I‘m sure these debates will continue. As a county council, we are proud to play a role in helping families caught up in their country’s humanitarian crisis through no fault of their own, and we are confident that Staffordshire will welcome them in their hearts and into their communities.