Where has the snow come from?

I don’t know about you, but I think we all preferred the surprisingly hot weather of last week.  Well at least we are prepared and have plenty of grit left for next year and our highways teams worked extremely hard to keep the roads clear for us.

During my trip to Westminster last week I heard about Localism and Open Public Services, whilst listening to other local authority’s experiences of delivering different, better and cheaper public services at scale in the modern world.

This week the Planning Minister Greg Clark announced a new, simplified planning framework, with new laws set to strike a balance between protecting the environment and helping to deliver jobs which is a good move.

We already work closely with our local planning authorities to ensure we are doing all we can to make planning applications for business, leisure and community infrastructure run as smoothly as possible.  For example, recently we have worked with South Staffordshire Council on Jaguar Land Rover’s planned engine plant and Lichfield District Council on the Roxane mineral water development.

After two successful open days last autumn at our county farms, we are now looking for rural entrepeneurs; highly motivated and prospective tenants with ambition and a desire to develop an agricultural, equine or other rural business. We want applicants to show us how they could turn a farm holding into something more, adding in higher value for their produce, or a tourism offer to give the income a boost. The next holding near Eccleshall would be ideal for someone hoping to either start up a professional equine business, an agricultural business or an alternative rural enterprise to help the rural economy thrive.

As a county council we value our farm holdings, and I particularly want to see the most made of the farms here in Staffordshire. I’m proud to say we are recognised as a national leader in terms of running county farms. And we want to keep it that way.

Last Friday night I was at Alton Towers saluting the Volunteer Staffordshire Award nominees and winners, as they were rightly recognised for the time and effort they put in to helping others.  The new Lord Lieutenant performed his first official duty and we were entertained by the brilliant Staffordshire Youth Jazz Orchestra. And I’ve also been to the annual All About You Awards to celebrate and recognise Staffordshire County Council staff who have gone the extra mile.  Both award ceremonies made me very proud of the efforts of Staffordshire people.

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