Staffordshire in the New Year

I hope everyone had a very happy new year’s to round off what was a memorable one in all regards. It was a great year for the country and the county with the participation of the public in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and London 2012 Olympic Games.

I’d like to congratulate all Staffordshire’s recipients in Her Majesty’s New Year’s Honours list who have done this county proud. Well done on your awards, your contributions are noted.  I’d also like to give special mention to our Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, who received the Queen’s Policing Medal for his service in radically reducing crime rates since his appointment in 2009. This is a tremendous achievement on part of Mike’s contributions and the efforts of the Staffordshire police force as a whole, and the recognition is deserved.

You may not believe it (although I think you will) but 2012 has been the second wettest year in recorded rainfall history, with rain wreaking havoc on homes, roads, and fields alike with terrible consequences. I’ve seen many a flooded field this season, most memorably in a plot where there were plans to build 90 new homes. It made me wonder how far they’ll get now that the land is a known flood plain. I can only hope we’ll have drier luck soon.

Excellent news from SouthStaffsCollege, who have just turned 4 years old. In that time they have had an impressive 30,663 learners who have achieved 84004 qualifications. With such a good start we look forward to seeing further achievements and successful students from this key contributor to our local communities.

Anyway, now we’re into 2013, and reminiscing must give way to progress. We have a great year of progress ahead of us, with so many promising developments about to deliver; we have the Jaguar Land Rover engine plant set to open and create jobs with a motorway junction opening at i54 South Staffordshire, and the RedhillBusinessPark is rapidly taking shape. Most exciting of all, our co-operation with Stoke on Trent City Council for a bid on the City Deal in the pursuit of £1bn of funding and the creation of 50,000 new jobs over 10 years will be submitted in January. The key challenges we face this year are job creation, the efficiency of our organisations, and working together to make a real difference in our communities, and as I said to several of the council’s partners in a letter on New Year’s Eve, I truly believe Staffordshire is “sure of who we are, proud of who we are, not a county whose time has been, but one whose time has come.” Here’s to another great year for Staffordshire.

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