Archive for May, 2018

Got time to foster?

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

This month we’re celebrating Foster Care Fortnight,  which is the annual celebration of the amazing difference that foster families make to children’s lives every day.

As a County Council one of the most important things we do is keep vulnerable children safe.  We do this in a number of ways, by finding loving homes for them, either through adoption or finding a foster family for them.  We all want to see children and young people get the best possible start in life, and that’s exactly what you could do as an approved foster carer for our fostering service.

All sorts of people from all walks of life can and do foster and there’s plenty of help along the way. You’re never on your own. There’s always advice on hand, there’s lots of training and support and you’ll receive a competitive fee too.

Throughout the fortnight, our fostering roadshows have been visiting towns and villages, with people getting the chance to talk to real foster carers. Watch a short video of our first roadshow in Stafford.

A short film called ‘There was a boy’ is also highlighting the urgent need for foster carers for teenagers.

A series of online animated videos voiced up by members of our staff to start the conversation are also amongst the campaign activities.  They’re definitely worth a watch.

What are friends for… to find out about long-term fostering)

Go for it…! to find out about disability fostering)

You want us to what…? to find out about teenage fostering)

Fostering can be a challenge and it takes the right attitude and some core qualities but anyone over 21 with a spare bedroom can do it.  We already have around 370 fostering households across the county but with the number of children needing a loving home on the increase, and families retiring each year we always need more to come forward. 

If it’s  something you are considering or you know anyone who might be suitable and thinking about it, then the team would love to hear from you.  You can call them on 08001692061 or visit www.care4child.org/fostering.  You’ll also get dates for all our information meetings too which are another way of taking that first step.   

 

Huge welcome to England squad as they arrive in Staffordshire

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

With just less than a month to go until the start of the World Cup in Russia, it was great to be able to welcome the England squad to St George’s Park were they kick off their training.  The players began arriving at the FA National Centre in Burton on Monday morning ahead of a week’s training sessions.

Staffordshire is lucky and incredibly proud to be home to the FA Centre, which is not only home to the country’s 28 national teams but it is also a fantastic education facility and national attraction.

England’s first game of the World Cup is on June 18 against Tunisia, meaning most of the squad will get almost a month of preparation.  They will then play Panama on 24 June and Belgium on 28 June in the group stages.

I know people across Staffordshire will extend the warm welcome and be cheering on the whole team at their temporary home at St George’s Park and away in the competition in Russia next month.

Good luck lads.

Successful campaign to Mitigate Impact of HS2 on the county

Friday, May 11th, 2018

Last month I was in London in front of the HS2 Select Committee campaigning for measures to mitigate the impact of high speed rail on the county. It was a successful visit with us being given a number of important assurances.

In total, we are petitioning on more than 60 items to help reduce the impact of the second phase which will run from Fradley to Crewe – cutting through a further 33 miles of the county.

Some of the assurances we’ve been given include:

  • Lowering of the King’s Bromley viaduct
  • Stone railhead and maintenance hub: Reducing the footprint and maximising rail use; ensuring M6 slip access is put in place to reduce the use of Yarnfield Lane as soon as possible;  limiting the height of buildings, additional noise and visual mitigation if the plans go-ahead
  • Multi-million pound highway and junction improvements: Including provision for temporary improvement works to be made permanent, thereby delivering long-term benefits for communities
  • Agreement that Kings Bromley will not be used as a main construction traffic route
  • Encouraging the recruitment of local, disadvantaged or under-represented groups in the construction of the scheme
  • Reduction of the need to take hedgerows and to protect veteran trees, as well as specific assurances on retaining Noddy’s Oak

We’re also pressing for the extension of a proposed tunnel at Whitmore to mitigate the impact on the highways network and also Whitmore Wood ancient woodland. A recommendation on this has still to be made by the select committee.

I have blogged about this before but from the very outset we have been committed to ensuring the voices of our communities were heard and getting the best deal from the project for everyone.  The assurances we have received will significantly help mitigate the impact of the project on some of our communities, but there is a great deal of detailed work still to be done with our district and borough council colleagues to mitigate the impact during construction and operation as much as possible.

I’ll keep you updated.

Summer’s on its way and tourism is booming

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018

With the summer just around the corner and tourism emerging as one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, it’s good to see that we’re also reaping some of the rewards here in Staffordshire.

Our tourism economy is really booming and Our local tourism businesses continue to do a great job, innovating and attracting more and more visitors. Last year the sector  generated around £1.7 billion, and provided over 31,000 jobs for local people.

Only last month the National Memorial Arboretum, World of Wedgwood and Colton House B&B won gold, silver and bronze respectively in the Visit England awards. These are national awards and are always incredibly competitive, so winning is a great achievement.

WE really are a wonderful county to visit with great visitor attractions and pretty much something for everyone. We’ve national attractions like the NMA and The national FA Centre at St George’s Park.  We have world-class theme parks like Drayton Manor Park in Tamworth and the Alton Towers Resort, which has just launched a brand new £16 million wooden rollercoaster ‘Wicker Man’ this Spring.

If it’s scenic walks you’re after, we’re also home to some majestic countryside including the Peak District National Park, the National Forest and Cannock Chase – a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.  And, not to forget, our extensive canal network which is amongst the largest in the country.  Historic houses and gardens also feature in our portfolio of world-class visitor attractions, together with museums and visitor centres that tell the story of the county’s rich industrial heritage and world-famous pottery industry.

Later in the summer we’ll also be hosting IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire and the UK Corporate Games both of which will see thousands more visitors to the county, generating millions of pounds for our local economy.  It’s events like this that really help to put the county on a national stage.

We have a lot to be proud of and I do hope that people are able to get out and enjoy our great county over the summer months.