A busy month…

Just a few quick updates on what’s been happening lately.

In the middle of February I got the chance to meet some young people on the county council’s apprenticeship scheme, it was great to listen to their experiences and hear their aspirations for the future as part of a celebratory event we put together for National Apprenticeship Week.

And talking of budding young apprentices, last week I was talking to Lord Sugar’s first Apprentice; Tim Campbell from the Bright Ideas Trust, about helping young people start up businesses.

I have also been talking politics to some of our latest recruits at a staff induction training day as well as welcoming them to the organisation.

Talking of welcomes.  I would like to welcome aboard Neal Podmore after a conservative win in Leek South by election. This now makes us 50 Conservatives on the Council.

As well as being record breakingly ‘hot’ this February has seen the all important announcement of our next Lord-Lieutenant.  I want to thank Sir James Hawley who has served for the last 18 years and retires in March, and welcome Ian Dudson as his successor.

Red Diesel News… as a farmer myself, I was pleased to hear that farmers can now use red diesel in gritters, as HM Revenue and Customs relaxed their rules on the use of red diesel. This rids us of another bit of bureaucracy!

You may have already heard this but we are hoping to attract a further 2,500 jobs to the county through the development of a brand new business park at Redhill, outside Stafford. This continues our focus on the economy.

On an arts theme.  Worth a visit is Cecil Beaton’s photo exhibit at the Victoria and Albert museum in the capital.  It offers a real insight into HM Elizabeth II in her 60th year and shows her as a real family person.

Something else I am proud of and excited about is the ‘President’, the world’s only surviving steam powered narrow boat, which will be flying the flag for Staffordshire in the Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant on 3 June.

The boat, partly built in Staffordshire will be making a 336 mile long journey to London.Steam Powered Boat - President  The project is being sponsored by major Staffordshire businesses JCB, Michelin, Wedgwood and St. Modwen.  It will make three stops in Staffordshire: Festival Park, Stone and Fradley before joining the Grand Union Canal.

At 71ft the journey is expected to take around three weeks, travelling at a very relaxing three miles per hour and arriving in London at the end of May. ‘President’ will then join the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant as part of a seven-mile long procession of Dunkirk little ships, historic vessels, steam boats and tugs, with the royal barge at its centre.

It should make us all feel proud that a part of Staffordshire will be there to celebrate with The Queen on her Diamond Jubilee.

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