Welcoming Chinese delegation to i54 South Staffordshire

After a short break over the election it is back to work and there is a lot happening! 

It was great to welcome a delegation of Chinese Government representatives to the county.  The 16 strong group, made up of government representatives from across China visited the i54 South Staffordshire site as part of a fact finding mission.  They were keen to find out about how we are leading the way in terms of growing our economy through increased manufacturing, research and skills development.

It’s great that our achievements are being noticed on an international stage and that others want to learn from our work.  After their visit they told us that our approach was visionary and strategic, reflecting the hard work that is going on to make Staffordshire an internationally recognised place to do business, which is a good endorsement from a knowledgeable observer.

We have also taken modern technology services in Staffordshire a step further by signing a deal with BT to provide access to high speed broadband to 97% of the county’s homes and businesses.

The Project – being led by the Council, hopes to bring the superfast broadband service to the county by Spring 2016.  With the contract signed, the work can begin and we can start bringing homes and businesses access to fibre optic broadband, bringing with it great opportunities not only for residents but for many of our local businesses who rely on high speed access.

I would also like to congratulate 13 of our voluntary groups from across the county who have been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The award recognises the invaluable contributions made by groups of volunteers in Britain, and carries the same prestigious credit as an MBE.

This is a unique honour and I am even more pleased to say that Staffordshire was the county with the highest number of awards out of the 117 awarded across the country.  Well done to all involved and a tribute to our community spirit.

Staying on a Royal theme, I attended a full St Mary’s Church in Stafford last week for a special Celebration Service for the 60th Anniversary of Queen Elisabeth II’s Coronation.  Staffordshire’s Lord Lieutenant, Ian Dudson CBE was also representing us at the actual service at Westminster Abbey.

The Scientia Academy, a new school in Burton that will focus on science and technology based education, is starting to take shape and I was happy to visit the construction site to see the work completed so far. This is one of three new schools that are needed to meet the demand of our county’s growing population. I look forward to seeing the academy provide its 420 pupils with the very best education and school experience.

I would also like to congratulate the winning team in the Staffordshire Young Enterprise finals and all the school teams that took part.  The project helps young entrepreneurs aged 16 to 18 develop their business skills.  The teenagers create their own company and sell their own products and services as part of the competition.

Equipo, a company set up by pupils at Elaine’s High School in Stone, who came up with a great product that keeps headphones from getting tangled up, won the competition.   They will now go on to represent Staffordshire in the West Midlands finals later in the month and I wish them the best of luck.

It’s great that the Council is able to help fund the Young Enterprise project for Stafford and Stone, which could help to produce some of the county’s future business leaders.

Remember, you can follow me on twitter @PEBAtkins for the latest news and updates.

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