Archive for February, 2020

Switching over to green energy

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

Last July the county council declared a climate change emergency and pledged to do more to reduce its carbon footprint and be kinder to the environment.

Over recent years we have made some big changes and reduced our carbon footprint by moving staff out of old inefficient buildings and introducing biomass boilers in Staffordshire Place, but we know that we still need to do more. 

One of the things we’ve done, more recently, is switched to green energy in all our buildings, as well as streetlighting and traffic signals across Staffordshire.

Making this switch means the council’s annual carbon usage has reduced by a total of 24,000 tonnes. Added to a saving of around 19,000 tonnes achieved previously for reducing the amount of buildings in use and switching to smart street lighting, this means the council has reduced its carbon output by nearly 43,000 tonnes.

Green energy comes from natural sources such as sunlight, wind, rain and geothermal heat and are much more environmentally friendly. These energy sources are naturally renewable, as opposed to fossil fuels that create more pollution and are a finite resource.

We know there’s much more to do and we continue to look for new ways of addressing the issue across all council functions and departments. And, as well as looking at our own contracts and processes, we will continue to work closely with our district and borough partners and continue to lobby Government and consider the implementation of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Free NHS Health Checks to roll out across the county

Monday, February 24th, 2020
Be sure to keep an eye out for the Everyone Health van

One of the county council’s number one priorities is to help people be healthy and happy and to encourage them to make the right lifestyle choices.

Our free NHS Health Checks are one way to help people do this and to find out how healthy they are, and the steps they can take now to nip any potential problems in the bud and set themselves up for a healthier future.

They are a bit like an MOT for your health and are for people aged 40 to 74 who live in Staffordshire and have no underlying health issues. They can also help identify any potential issues early on, so people can make the necessary changes and avoid more serious problems as they get older.

Further to this, the recent ‘Health of the Nation report’ found that up to 75% of cases of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and 40% of dementia cases could be reduced if people adopt a healthier lifestyle.

To make it easy for people a series of roadshows have been organised at local village halls and venues across the county where people can just drop in. During the health check, people will get their blood pressure checked and a cholesterol test and get their results immediately, along with any free health and lifestyle advice.

It really is a simple process and it only takes around 20 minutes to find out how healthy you are, and I would encourage anyone in the age bracket to try and have one done.

Everyone Health are carrying out the health checks on behalf of the county council with roadshows across the county:

  • Abbots Bromley Village Hall 24th Feb 2pm-8pm
  • Barton under Needwood Village Hall 28th Feb 2-8pm
  • Tutbury Village Hall 2nd March 2-8pm
  • Marchington Village Hall 6th March 2-8pm
  • Ashley Memorial Hall 13th March 2-8pm
  • Martin Heath Village hall 21st Feb 2-8pm
  • Madeley Centre 10th March 2-8pm
  • Eccleshall Community Centre 11th March 2-8pm

Further advice can be found at www.everyonehealth.co.uk/staffordshire.

It’s definitely worth doing.

Getting the best deal for Staffordshire is our aim as PM gives HS2 green light

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Phase One and Phase 2a of the HS2 rail project, which will run from the Midlands to Crewe, will go ahead.  He also said that Phase 2b should be considered as part of a wider integrated High Speed North rail plan and gave his backing to the operation of the Handsacre Link, which will allow the area to benefit from HS2 compatible trains via Stafford.

At the very least, this brings an end to years of uncertainty for communities. Regular readers of my blog will know that the HS2 project will cut through 45 miles of Staffordshire countryside and from the outset we have championed the cause of our county and our communities in terms of securing meaningful mitigation and compensation.

From the outset, we have been committed to getting the best deal for Staffordshire in terms of mitigation for our county. We have also made it very clear that Staffordshire must share in any economic benefits and improved connectivity. This includes ensuring we benefit from HS2 compatible trains via Stafford once the Handsacre Link is built. Although there has been some doubt over whether this will be built, it does have the backing of the Prime Minster and is part of the legislation passed to construct Phase One. We look forward to building on the measures we have secured so far and will be working with the new dedicated HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson MP to ensure the voice of Staffordshire continues to be heard.

With confirmation that the scheme will now go ahead, be assured  our work to get the best deal for Staffordshire and our communities continues and to make sure the government deliver on their promises. You can read more about HS2 here. 

Preparing for a new future in the EU

Thursday, February 13th, 2020

On 31 January the UK officially left the EU after 47 years bringing to an end the past few years of uncertainty. And, while this has brought certainty for our communities and businesses, to bring clarity there’s still a lot of important work and negotiations to be done over the next eleven months.

As Leader of the county council, my responsibility is to the people of Staffordshire and ensuring the county remains a place where everyone has the opportunity to be prosperous, to be healthy, and to be happy. 

It’s my job to make sure we continue to create the right conditions so businesses can prosper, and that their interests, and those of our local economy are safeguarded.

I have blogged about this before but we’ve already been working  closely with our partners locally and with various Government departments to help shape the national direction, and to raise Staffordshire’s profile in preparing for the future.

I do believe that our exit from the EU does present businesses with a wide range of opportunities, but businesses need to ensure they are aware of the advice and guidance available to help them prepare for 2021 when the transition period ends.

We’ve also been working with the Stoke and Staffordshire Growth Hub to put on a series of workshops for local businesses covering the main issues.

Another important aspect in relation to leaving the EU is the Government’s Settlement Scheme which will allow EU citizens, if eligible, to remain and work in the UK. EU citizens in Staffordshire make a great contribution to our economy, so we want to ensure as many of them as possible are aware of the scheme and can apply before the June 31 deadline.

I would like to reassure you that the county council is keeping a close eye on whatever happens so that everyone in Staffordshire remains prepared and ready for whatever opportunities the future may bring.

Launching our Dignity in Care Awards

Wednesday, February 12th, 2020
Cllr Alan White with some of last years’ award attendees

Only last month, I blogged about our record spending on care, including adult social care, and how it now accounts for around 65% of the county council’s total spend.

Social care still remains one of the fastest growing sectors in the county employing an estimated 20,000 people. This along with the huge numbers of informal carers looking after family members means it’s a really important area of work that touches the lives of thousands of people.

That’s why every year we put on the Staffordshire Dignity in Care Awards.  Now in their sixth year, we recognise and celebrate those amazing carers and organisations who put dignity at the heart of everything they do.

Those working in the care sector, informal carers, young carers, care companies, and voluntary organisations are all eligible. There are 9 categories this year, so there’s something for everyone.

Nominating for the Staffordshire Dignity in Care Awards is quick and easy and you can start here: https://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/Care-for-all-ages/Dignityincare/home.aspx  

The closing date for nominations is Friday 1st May and remember those shortlisted get the chance to attend our special celebration event on 14 July at Newcastle College of Performing Arts.

If you do know an amazing carer, (who may be a work colleague, friend, family member or neighbour as well as a professional carer), or a great care organisation then please get them nominated for an award. Thank you.