Archive for February, 2018

Cold weather to stay with us for a bit longer

Monday, February 26th, 2018

With temperatures expected to plummet to as low as -6C in some areas of the county this week and a wind chill factor of -11C, it looks like the cold weather will be with us for a while yet.

The cause is cold easterly winds from Russia this time and it’s expected to last for the majority of the week.  If you have to go out, wrap up warm, if you’re on the roads take care and if you have elderly neighbours or relatives, drop in and make sure they are ok.

As always, during these cold snaps our gritting crews and snow ploughs will be rolling out as and when needed to help keep the roads clear.  Crews are well prepared to deal with any tricky conditions, and our nine weather stations across the county will tell us what the weather is doing at a local level so we know when teams need to roll out.

With some snow forecast over the next few days too, it’s likely that conditions in some parts of the county may become difficult. While our teams will be doing their best, as usual, I would ask people to take care even on gritted roads, drive to the conditions and allow extra time for their journeys.

If the snow does come, our teams of community ice busters, who’s work we really appreciate,  will also be out keeping paths and pavements clear.  If you are worried about school closures, then You can get details on our website at www.staffordshire.gov.uk and searching for ‘school closure list’.  And remember, It’s always worth keeping an eye out for older family, friends and neighbours to make sure they are safe and well, particularly if they have any health conditions.  There’s lots of useful advice on keeping warm during the cold weather and looking after neighbours at www.nhs.uk/staywell.

And spare a thought for the new born lambs, remember spring is on the way.

Budget plans given green light at Full Council

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

This month we had our First Full Council meeting of the year where we approved a number of important pieces of work including our four-year strategic plan, our budget for 2018/19 and an additional £5m investment in fixing potholes.

Next year will see the County Council delivering record spending on care of the most vulnerable in our communities and still balance the books,  which is a huge achievement  at a time when financial pressures remain immensely challenging. And, as we move to becoming self-financing, due to the loss of Government grants, it’s become increasingly important that we continue to grow our economy and support the creation of a more skilled workforce.  This coupled with promoting the development of housing needs will help make the council even more self-sufficient.

Some of the headlines from the four-year plan and budget include:

  • Investing a record £310 million this year on care of the elderly, people with learning disabilities and children in our care
  • Increasing county council tax by 5.95 per cent this year, which includes the Government’s 3 per cent ring-fenced precept to be spent on social care – equivalent to an overall rise of around £1.30 per week in county council tax on a Band D property
  • Spending an extra £5m once again to tackle potholes in 2018/19
  • Bidding to be part of the Government’s next round of business rates pilot, which could bring in an extra £10m to the county council
  • Rolling out the Smart Staffordshire programme – maximising the use of digital technology to benefit residents and businesses
  • Encouraging a programme of housing development to support growth and investment in the county

Over the last eight years we have achieved a huge amount. More people are in work, young people are leaving school and college with better qualifications, people are living longer, and tell us they feel safer and happier than ever before.

While we are proud of these achievements, the world around us is changing fast and there is so much more we want to do.  We will continue to work with our local communities and all our partners to make sure we give the people we serve every opportunity to improve their lives.

Ambitious plans for i54 South Staffordshire Expansion to go on show

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, John Reynolds and Phillip Atkins

We all recognise the importance of creating more better paid jobs and growing our economy for the benefit of everyone living in Staffordshire.  Part of this is about providing suitable business sites to entice companies to the county And now the reason we are looking to extend our highly successful i54 South Staffordshire Business Park.

The success of the site has been outstanding, not only in  attracting major global leaders in their sectors but in the creation of thousands of skilled jobs for people living locally.  Since the first companies moved in in 2012, more than £1 billion has been invested in the site but we know there is potential to extend a further 100 acres.  This would  help attract a further £600 million of private investment and help create up to 2,700 more jobs.

These are exciting plans and although it’s early days, an initial planning application will look to develop the first 60 acres of land between Wobaston Road, Pendeford Hall Lane and the current site.  We know there’s real demand to locate here and the expansion would no doubt strengthen the Midlands Engine while increasing productivity locally.

We’ll be sharing the plans on 1 March at Fordhouses Cricket Club on Wobaston Road.   People can also view the proposals on line at www.i54online.com where they can also lodge their views via an online survey.

Launching our Dignity in Care Awards 2018 – Celebrating carers who go the extra mile

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Lesley Flatley – Individual Carer Award

Last week I blogged about our latest campaign to encourage more people to consider a career in care. Running alongside this is our annual Dignity in Care Awards to celebrate those groups and individuals who go the extra mile for those they look after.

The awards are now in their sixth year and remain a popular recognition within the care sector. For the County Council it’s about making sure people get the highest standards of care and are treated with respect and for those companies and individuals nominated it’s a chance for us to say thanks and recognise their contributions.

This year we’re looking for nominations from both organisations and individuals, and both formal and informal carers of all ages. As in previous years, there are different categories including: Community carer of the year, Young Dignity Champion, Informal Carer of the year and Leadership award, so there’s lots to choose from.

If you know of someone deserving then why not put them forward for an award. The closing date is Friday 25 May so you have plenty of time. All the details are on www.staffordshire.gov.uk/dignityincare.

Making sure people have the right skills for the evolving jobs of the future

Monday, February 5th, 2018

We know a strong and growing economy relies on a steady flow of people who have the right skills and training to meet the needs of our businesses. But skilled jobs aren’t just good for our economy, they also mean higher wages for people, enabling them to afford and enjoy a better quality of life.

Over the next 10 years more than 100,000 jobs in sectors such as health and social care, construction, engineering and teaching will need to be filled in the county, so it’s vital for our economy that we have local people with the right skills.

Supporting this work is the skills deal with Keele University and the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Skills Hub that we are helping to deliver.  This month too, we launched an exciting  partnership with Wolverhampton University Which will help broaden people’s skills even further.  From their newly opened base at Staffordshire Place in Stafford they will be offering learning programmes from school age right through to workplace development. This coupled with the additional training courses at New Beacon Group at the Beaconside Campus and work with Entrust on delivering training for teachers means we will have the skills for these better paid jobs of the future.

Alongside this, in the last year, we’ve created more than 5,000 apprentices and increased our work with schools to raise aspirations about the higher skilled  jobs of the future, and made the pathways into those jobs more clear.

If our economy is to be truly successful and competitive, we need to continue developing local talent and growing skills to make sure Staffordshire people can take on these better paid jobs of the future. It means together we can build a prosperous and more productive county for years to come, a place to live, a place to raise a family, a place to raise living standards which we can all enjoy.