Archive for March, 2017

Backing Stoke-on-Trent‘s bid for City of Culture 2021

Friday, March 24th, 2017

I’ve often spoken about how Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent have always been closely linked and are steeped in history with a proud and rich heritage going back many years. I am delighted that the city is going for City of Culture 2021 and am pleased to support their campaign.

Any successful destination benefits from a vibrant city culture. We have seen the recent success of Hull and how the area has been regenerated and its reputation transformed. Winning the accolade would not only be great for the city but would also be great for Staffordshire and the surrounding area. This would also help to create even more jobs not just in the culture and tourism sectors, but also through attracting more inward investment in terms of companies being attracted by the city’s and Staffordshire’s offer for their employees and customers.

The City is up against some tough competition including, Perth, Paisley, Sunderland, Coventry, Hereford, Warrington, Portsmouth, Wells, Swansea and St Davids.

The final bids must be submitted by the end of April with a shortlist announced in July and the winning city named in December.

Supporting our armed forces and their families

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum

Staffordshire has a long and proud military heritage, which continues right up to today. We have the Defence Medical Services in Lichfield and the Royal Signals in Stafford, as well as a large number of Reserve units and Cadets based across the county.

Twenty years ago this week saw the first trees planted at the National Memorial Arboretum.  The Armed Forces Memorial, along with over 330 other memorials, is helping make Staffordshire the focus for the nation’s remembrance activities.

And as I travel the county I see people want to be able to support our local armed forces be more involved in local community’s activities and there is some funding that may help us do this. A new round of the £10 million annual fund available through the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Covenant Fund is now accepting applications for grants. This is a really good opportunity to access financial support for groups and projects to help integrate Armed Forces and civilian communities and deliver valuable local services to the Armed Forces Community.

We have already had two organisations benefit from the first round of the Fund and all three bids to the last round have successfully secured funds.  Make Some Noise, Recruit for Spouses and the Army Welfare Service in Stafford have all benefited from the fund.

We are still able to support organisations who are interested in making an application and people can find out more at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covenant-fund-guidance-on-how-to-applyor contact amanda.dawson-blower@staffordshire.gov.uk

Working through the Chancellor’s Budget

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

This week we had the Chancellor’s Budget and while we work through the detail and what it means for Staffordshire, there appears to be support for small businesses, money for skills training, help for  those in need, and more childcare to help parents.

As I have spoken about many times, social care is the biggest pressure facing local authorities today. But this is a national issue and the Chancellor’s announcement of extra money to spend on helping the elderly out of hospital and back into their homes, including some to be spent from April onwards, is recognition that we can’t solve the problem in isolation.

Skills are also hugely important for us and we have £37 million earmarked for the next few years to shape the skills training system. This will make sure people can learn the high quality skills needed for the better paid jobs of the future and reassure employers that they will have access to a skilled workforce. The new ‘T-levels’ also means that young people have an equal choice between academic and technical routes to earning a good wage.

With regards to the changes to business rates we also welcome the news of the transitional arrangements. The fact that local authorities may eventually become reliant on business rates for their income, we would expect to play a full part in the future review of them announced by the Chancellor.

And finally, it’s also great news that the scheme to give 30 hours’ free childcare for three and four year olds, which has been piloted successfully in Staffordshire, will be rolled out nationally in September.  This will allow parents to either work more hours, or save money if they already are.

 

Staffordshire Strikes Gold again and hits the national headlines

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Torcs discovered in Staffordshire

This week Staffordshire made the international headlines again with the discovery of yet more golden treasure.

This amazing archaeological find was made by two metal detectorists in a farmer’s field in Leek just before Christmas and is believed to include the earliest examples of Iron Age gold ever discovered in Britain.  Experts now believe the unique find could date back as far as 400BC and was of huge international importance.

It’s an incredible find and we’re unbelievably proud and lucky to be home to some truly exceptional finds, including of course the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold only seven years ago. This latest amazing find of gold torcs is quite simply magical and we look forward to sharing the secrets and story they hold in the years to come.

The collection, which has been named the Leekfrith Iron Age Torcs are made up of three neck torcs and one bracelet, and are thought to be from the continent, possibly Germany or France.  The items are now on display at the Potteries Museum in Hanley and will be there for the next three weeks.  It’s well worth a visit.  You can hear from the two men who found them here.