Archive for November, 2018

Celebrating the best of the best in our annual tourism awards

Monday, November 26th, 2018

Each year we recognise the contributions of our tourism businesses with the Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism Awards and this year was no different.

This year’s ceremony took place on Thursday at the brand new £8m Aspects Conference Centre at the National Memorial Arboretum and was hosted by Joanne Malin, who you may know from BBC Midlands Today.

More than 40 attractions, activities, and accommodation businesses entered, and I would like to say a huge well done to everyone, including a special congratulations to the winners.  Amongst them were Drayton Manor Park, who picked up 2 awards, Middleport Pottery, The Dorothy Clive Garden, Swinfen Hall Hotel and the NMA themselves.  Also, and on my patch, well done to Heywood Hall and Lower Micklin Touring Park both in Denstone who also picked up awards.

Tourism is a really important sector for the county and our local tourism businesses continue to do us proud and a great job, bringing in almost £2bn each year and sustaining tens of thousands of jobs.  So once again, thank you and well done.

People holding up trophies

Winners of the 2018 Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism Awards with their trophies

New approach to support young people with mental health issues

Friday, November 23rd, 2018

We had a busy cabinet meeting this week and one of the important decisions we made was to agree a new approach to helping children and young people with mental health issues.

This is not only about promoting good mental health, but also tackling the stigma around mental illness and improving attitudes towards it. A lot of young people may feel ashamed or embarrassed about their mental health, but we want them to know that they shouldn’t feel that shame, and that there’s people who understand what they are going through and can help them.

It’s a subject that’s incredibly important to us all and it’s vital that children get the help when they need it. That’s why we have joined forces with our local Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure we can support them through any tough times they go through.

Around 40% of all young people experience at least one mental health issue by the age of 16. With 225,000 children and young people living in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent, this means around 90,000 will experience an issue with their emotional health and wellbeing at some stage.

These are figures that cannot be ignored, which is why we are so committed to ensuring that young people get the help that they need.

I will keep you posted on the progress of the new approach.

Highways improvements to support new Designer Outlet for Staffordshire

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018
Retail development in Cannock

MacArthurGlen Designer Outlet Cannock

This month we saw the start of a major highways project that will provide access to a new £160 million retail development at Mill Green in Cannock.

On-site construction of the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet started this summer and when it opens in 2020 it will be a huge draw for the county and create around 1,000 jobs for the local area. It’s a really exciting project, and great news not only for people in Cannock but the county as a whole.

As part of the overall development, McArthurGlen has committed £15 million towards the improvements which will be key to the success of the outlet. The highways works are absolutely essential. When the outlet opens we will see a significant increase in traffic around the area and this scheme will provide suitable access to the site and improve traffic flow on the surrounding roads.

It’s a major project, and as you can imagine, a huge amount of planning has gone into the works. Part of the improvements will be the construction of a temporary road to ensure there is no closure of the A460 while a new underpass for the outlet is built.

The works are expected to take around 72 weeks to complete and you can keep up to date with the project by signing up for regular email updates. You can do this here.

Positive feedback on our vision and Aspirations For Communities

Friday, November 16th, 2018

Strong leadership, aspirational goals, partnership working and a clear grasp of financial challenges are some of the things highlighted in an independent review of the county council.

This was the feedback from a Local Government Association Peer Challenge in September which concluded that the county council was “ambitious” and had a “good understanding of the communities that it is working for. The review team also found that although the council faced difficult decisions it was prepared for this.

This is really encouraging news and the review was a great opportunity to get real constructive feedback about what is working well at the council and what could be done better. I am pleased the review highlighted much of the good work already underway and, at the very heart of this, the positive attitude and enthusiasm of our staff.

As I have blogged about many times before, local councils are in unprecedented financial times and it is an absolute testament to employees that this review recognised the council has a clear grasp on the financial situation and still has a drive to deliver our aspirations for Staffordshire people.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be sitting down and looking through the recommendations to see where further improvements can be made. You can read the full peer challenge here.

Looking ahead to commemorating the 100th anniversary of Armistice

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018
NMA Armed Forces Memorial

The National Memorial Arboretum Armed Forces Memorial

With names on war memorials in all of our towns and villages, many with relatives living today, Staffordshire continues its long history of involvement, reconciliation and a national focus for remembrance.

This Sunday we will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, when the nation will unite to remember the guns falling silent following the end of the First World War.

I’ve blogged about Staffordshire’s many connections with the Great War many times before and the role the county played both in training troops and how the home front contributed to winning the war.

Alongside the WWI training camps on Cannock Chase where over 500,000 men were trained and our many countywide war memorials and gardens, we are also incredibly proud to be the home of the National Memorial Arboretum.

Since the first trees were planted 21 years ago, the site which now provides a focal point for the nation’s commemorations has now become a world-class centre of remembrance.  It really is an inspirational and moving place to visit and both the candlelight vigil and Remembrance service over the Armistice weekend will be a fitting way to remember those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice giving up their lives for our freedom.

On Sunday I will be attending my local village service at the War Memorial in St Michael’s Lychgate, Rocester, which I have done so now for the last 37 years.  As like every year, the names of the 25 villagers who lost their lives during the two World Wars, inscribed on the church’s lychgate, are read out followed by a two minute silence.

A whole country falling silent together in respect of others is truly a powerful concept, and I hope people are able to take some time to attend a local service over the weekend to remember those who gave up so much.