Archive for November, 2017

Reggie Bear needs your help!

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Christmas is usually a special time for families and something that children very much look forward to.  But it’s probably worth remembering that not all children will have the same certainty in their lives.

We have around 1,000 children in our care, most of whom are living with foster carers.  And while we know that placing children with foster families gives them the best chance of a better life we do have a shortage of families.

That’s why we’ve enrolled the help of Reggie bear, the Fostering Service’s mascot in our latest Christmas push to highlight the urgent need for more foster families.  We are asking you to pick up a picture of Reggie from your local library or download it from www.care4child.org and take a festive photo with him in it. We then ask if you would post it on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #ReggieFosterBear and tag a friend who you think would make a great foster carer.

Not only is this a fun way to help to raise the profile of fostering and encourage more people to come forward but everyone who takes part will be entered into a prize draw to win a £100 Love to Shop Voucher.  You can read more about the campaign at www.care4child.org  .  And, if fostering is something that you would consider yourself, then there is more information on the website or you can call 0800 1692061.  You could also pop along to one of our information evenings, with a chance to meet foster carers and talk to staff about what’s involved.  The next one is at Staffordshire Place 1, in Stafford on 6 December at 7pm.  Everyone will be made very welcome.

The Budget and what it means for Staffordshire

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Last week we had the Chancellor’s Budget with Pledges to invest more in the NHS this winter, a drive to increase house building and extra investment in education and skills,

Alongside this was increases in personal tax allowances for people, and housing stamp duty deals for first time buyers which I’m sure will be welcome news for many people. And, with greater support too for small companies it does look like there are lots of winners. But as always it will take time to go through the finer detail to see exactly what it means for the county, for residents and for local businesses.

However our focus and priorities at the county council remain clear, we will continue creating the right conditions to grow our economy and create not only more jobs, but more well-paid, better skilled jobs.  For example, since 2014 we’ve helped create and safeguard around 5,560 jobs and develop 3.7 million square feet of employment floor space for businesses, that’s around 60 football pitches.  Not to forget we have near full employment and our business parks are thriving, like Redhill in Stafford which is almost fully occupied.

Having a strong economy with thriving businesses and more skilled jobs puts more money in people’s pockets, which in turn is good for the county council. And that is because people in work tend to lead healthier lifestyles with less dependence on county council services, meaning we can focus our efforts on the most vulnerable in our communities, like children in care and our growing elderly population.

The budget also promised extra money for the NHS over the winter.  While this is welcome for Staffordshire, and for county councils in particular, the funding challenges and pressures on adult social care remain enormous and a long-term solution on how this is funded still needs to be fully addressed nationally.  This year we are spending a record £300m in social care to make sure people receive the best quality health and social care available. Getting the very best care for our older and more vulnerable residents is something we all want to see and we will continue to work more closely with the NHS to improve services and reduce the pressure on our hospitals.

Staffordshire’s best tourism businesses celebrated at awards

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Tourism plays a vital role in our overall economy and on Wednesday over 40 of our top tourism businesses gathered for the 2017 Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism Awards.

The Awards held at Uttoxeter Racecourse were a great opportunity to celebrate and recognise the huge contributions they make, bringing in millions of pounds each month for the local economy and sustaining tens of thousands of jobs. I am sure you will agree that Staffordshire really is a great county with lots on offer, with wonderful attractions that we are all very proud of.

There were 16 award categories, Large Visitor Attraction of the Year went to the National Memorial Arboretum, and the new CBeebies Land Hotel at Alton Towers Resort was named Hotel of the Year.  Drayton Manor Park won gold for the second year in a row for Best Tourism Experience of the Year, for Drayton’s Magical Christmas, with accolades also going to World of Wedgwood (Guided Tour of the Year) and Uttoxeter Racecourse (Business Tourism Award).

The Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent and Colton House near Rugeley both won two gold awards, making them the biggest winners of the day.  Amber House of Alrewas went home with the Bed & Breakfast of the Year award, Cannock’s Dalraddy Cottage was Self-Catering Property of the Year, and Heywood Hall, Denstone won Self-Catering Holiday Provider of the Year.  You can click here to see a full list of the winners.

Finally “Well done!” to all our winners, and good luck to those going forward to represent Staffordshire at the VisitEngland Awards next year.

Keeping healthy this winter

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Winter brings with it lots of different challenges for everyone and In my last post, I touched on our winter preparations from a highways point of view.  Well, gritting crews saw their first bit of action this winter and were rolled out as the temperatures dropped close to freezing.

But it’s not just the roads we need to look after, it’s important that everyone stays healthy over the winter months. We’re reminding the elderly and vulnerable that they shouldn’t hesitate, but seek help from their pharmacist at the first sign of an illness – even if it’s just a cough or a cold.

Free flu jabs are also available for the over-65s, the pregnant, those with long-term health conditions and for carers. Children aged two to eight can also have a free vaccine, but they have it as a nasal spray, rather than an injection.  I would urge anyone who is eligible for the vaccinations to have them as soon as possible if they haven’t already done so.

Although it has been quite mild up to now, it’s important to keep warm indoors and outdoors as it helps prevent colds, flu and more serious problems including heart attacks, pneumonia and strokes.  But as the colder nights do draw in, older neighbours, friends and relatives will be more vulnerable and may need a little extra help. Please keep in touch with them and check they’re warm and have enough healthy food to keep them going.

You can get more advice about keeping yourself and your family healthy this winter by clicking here.

Winter preparations underway

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

We are feeling the first signs of winter now and rest assured behind the scenes our highways teams have been busy putting our army of gritting machines through their paces so they are ready to be rolled out when needed.

With a fleet of more than 40 gritters and around 20,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled and the largest road network in the region, we’re well prepared for whatever winter decides to throw at us. Our nine Ice prediction weather stations located across the county also help our winter decision makers decide on what action is required.

On routine winter days and nights in adverse weather or freezing temperatures, our gritting crews will focus on the major routes and then extend to the wider network in more prolonged ice and snow conditions.  But you can also play your part too. Regardless of whether a road has been gritted, if you are a motorist you need to slow down, take extra care and allow more time for your journey, as the most important thing is that we all get through winter safely.

Staffordshire also has great community spirit and our Ice Busters initiative allows people to work with their neighbours, Parish Council and resident association with provided grit to treat footpaths. If you want to “Do your bit”, we’re always looking for willing volunteers to get involved so please get in touch with our highways team if it’s something you’re interested in.

And as the real cold does start to bite, please remember to look out for your elderly or more vulnerable neighbours – it’s as simple as knocking on their door to see if they are okay, safe and warm. You can read more about how we prepare for winter and what you can do to help keep yourself, your family and your neighbours safe this winter by looking at our website clicking here.