Living well in Staffordshire

Last week organisations from across the county took part in ‘TRITON’, an exercise to test how well the county’s key agencies would react to a real-life major incident.

This was the first of its kind for the county, where all the key partners got the chance to respond to a large scale flooding emergency with helicopter search and rescue role plays by the RAF and Air Ambulance.

I’d like to thank everyone who took part, it was a demanding task that was handled very well by all of our agencies and we have learned a huge amount.  I’m confident that we’d now be able to handle such an emergency effectively if it ever should happen.

I was able to see the best of Staffordshire’s Morgan motors on parade at Doveleys, a mansion once home to the Heywood family. Club Shows like this provide a chance to display their interest and support the local economy at the same time. Doveleys was once the Heywood family home, who went on to found the Royal Bank of Scotland. I was glad to be able to visit this impressive collection and house as another example of Staffordshire’s notable history.

We’ve also just launched our new Five Year Health & Wellbeing Plan to transform the health and wellbeing of the county’s residents.  The Staffordshire Health and Wellbeing Board, which will deliver the ambitious plans is made up of public sector partners including, district and borough councils, NHS clinical commissioning groups, Staffordshire Police, Healthwatch and Public Health England.

Staffordshire is a huge county and there is a real contrast in health, education, work, experience of crime and even how long a person will live between the most and least deprived areas in the county.  Working together we will be able to reduce the inequalities that exist and provide the opportunities for everyone to live a healthy, happy life.  The plan will focus on five key areas including, supporting families to be active and eat well, reducing harm from avoidable causes such as alcohol, offering tailored support to help people live independently in the community and investment in dementia care.

It’s vital that we listen and act on the priorities of the people who live here and residents will have the chance to share their views on the plans over the following12 weeks.

Within government, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is leading plans to mark the beginning of WWI and here in Staffordshire are plans to commemorate the Great War are also coming together.

We have as good a claim as anywhere in Britain to be the national focus for the centenary commemorations and the Staffordshire Great War Trail is our unique project to link our offerings together.

We are already home to the National Memorial Arboretum and Cannock Chase is the site of both Allied and German war cemeteries.  The Great War Training Camps on Cannock Chase trained over 500,000 men for the trenches, and in August as part of our project we will be unearthing a scaled model of the Messines Ridge one of the most significant battles in the Great War.

The Staffordshire Regiment Museum details the history of Staffordshire’s regiments and the crucial role they played throughout the conflict.  There are also many more local stories, of the men and women who served at the front line, and of the ‘Home Front’ in Staffordshire.  Part of our project will see the introduction of a new website to pull our Great War Trail together which I will share with you when launched.

I also attended the Staffordshire Strategic Partnership meeting earlier in the week and was pleased to welcome Gavin Williamson MP as our guest speaker.  Gavin is the Parliamentary Private Secretary to former Staffordshire County Councillor, Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport and our theme this time around was transport and Connectivity.

This was a fantastic opportunity for the Board to highlight the region’s needs, plans and concerns to a prominent member of government.  Gavin praised the work we were doing in the county and acknowledged that key partners working together is key to long term success.  He particularly praised the i54 South Staffordshire development, and our efforts to secure a City Deal for the county.

He explained that transport is a vital part of central government’s decision devolve powers locally and said that the two councils were ideally placed to make decisions that met the needs of local people, businesses and communities.

Philip Atkins

Leader of Staffordshire County Council

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