More treasure for Staffordshire

I’m sure you’ve shared the excitement surrounding the further finds in that famous field in Hammerwich, where yet more gold has been determined to be part of the Staffordshire hoard, the largest Anglo-Saxon collection of gold yet found.

The further 81 pieces, it has been decided, are officially “Treasure” according to the coroner, making it a rich addition to our county’s heritage.

The task now is for the fund-raising necessary to buy the find and keep it in the West Midlands. The Hoard of 2009 is currently owned by the regional Museums run by Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham City Councils after the fantastic funding campaign that rose over £900,000. I hope we’ll have similar support in ensuring that we keep the finds together as one Hoard for everyone to enjoy. York has the Vikings, Bath has the Romans, we can be the Anglo Saxon place to visit with Lichfield Cathedral and Tamworth Castle.

We have an interesting future of development plans ahead of us. Staffordshire’s commuters and adventurous types may be interested to know that the plans for the second phase of HS2 are to be announced early this year.  Expect to see the route link up to Manchester and Leeds in a “Y” shape. This may include a station in the north of Staffordshire or Cheshire. Some will not be happy about this news, but the Council’s pledge to ensure the voice of the communities affected is heard has not waned, and we will continue to work for the economic and environmental benefit of the people of Staffordshire both now and for the future.

Similarly, the council has welcomed intervention from the Government over the placement of wind farms both onshore and offshore.  Even though renewable energy is important, we’ve said before that we’re opposed to anything imposed on our communities that damage our county’s landscape and economy, and we will not have these wind farm developments if they negatively affect on people’s quality of life.

I have yet more good news to welcome us into 2013. During last year the council managed to save £2million of taxpayer’s money through reducing borrowing and cutting interest payments. The success of this money managing policy will continue, as the council goes into the New Year pledging to use its own cash to fund projects.

We are also moving ahead with our exciting plans at the Redhill Employment Park in Stafford, a development aimed at businesses in the research and technology sector. With construction due to start on Monday 14 January, there will be some traffic disruption on the A34 and I would ask that people bear with us during this work.  Our Highways teams will be doing what they can to keep traffic flowing.  
This major economy-boosting initiative could create in excess of 2,500 jobs, making it one of our boldest and most anticipated projects, and I am very excited to see it begin.  There’s more about the development on our website at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/redhill

I was delighted to be able to attend a dinner at Keele Hall on Wednesday where some of our top employers from across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent gave their endorsement to our pledge for the City Deal, the exciting joint bid for growth reward from the Government of hundreds of millions of pounds for investment and creating over 30,000 new jobs. We’re due to submit the bid next week, so watch this space.

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