The 2015 spending review and the County

The Chancellor’s spending review on Wednesday held no surprises for anyone who thought ahead in 2008, the key message for me is the fact that times are tough. Local government is going to see more reductions in the money we get from central government and that means that we will have to continue to work harder to provide the services our communities really need.

The county council will continue in its work to deliver the best services with the money we have. And, as I have said before, it’s not about the number of pounds we have, it’s how we spend them that counts.

We have the lowest county council tax in the country and with government grants added we have around £300 less per household than the average council has to spend. We have listened to what is important to people in Staffordshire and transformed the way we work to both protect frontline services and bring jobs and investment into the county. Our integration of health and social care has made significant real savings, and we’ve achieved a £25m cash injection through a partnership with Capita to deliver education support services.

I remain confident that our bold, innovative approach will continue to deliver real benefits and better prospects in business, education, employment, health and wellbeing for the people fo Staffordshire.

But we also need to be aware that others know we are preforming well as a council; I’m proud to report that we were recognised nationally last Thursday by a independent third party endorsement of our work at the local government equivalent of the “Oscars”, when SCC won two awards at the highly prestigious 2013 MJ Awards.

Through our efforts in developing partnerships with Wolverhampton City council and South Staffordshire Council on the i54 business park, we have earned the ‘Community Investor Award’.

Our second award, ‘Innovation in Communication’, recognised the comprehensive communications approach that launched Families First our early interventions services which ensures children and young people have the best start in life.

We were also highly commended in the Best Achieving Council category leaving us something to aim for for next year! These awards and commendation further cement how we’re leading by example and how together we’re striving for, and attaining, excellence to deliver real and positive results despite the tough decisions we face and our limited resources.

I also visited the i54 business park and met a group of students from Wolverhampton and Staffordshire schools who took part in the launch of the onsite education centre. The students took part in a series of workshops inspiring and promoting careers in engineering, construction and manufacturing. The students had a load of fun, building replica suspension bridges and wind turbines to teach them the principles and methods used in modern construction, which I’m sure made for an exciting break from school.

This week I travelled to London this week with Stoke City Council’s leader, Mohammed Pervez to meet the Financial Secretary to the Treasury Greg Clark to discuss our submission for a City Deal. We had a productive meeting with more detailed discussions planned for over the summer and autumn. This is one of many meetings on the way that will help us secure our Dealwith Government.

As I have said before, HS2, the new high speed rail-line to link Leeds and London will impact our county in many ways, and people living near the proposed route are rightly concerned. Following consultation we have drawn up a dossier outlining how to lessen the impact of the development which will be presented to HS2 chiefs. We have put forward the predicted damage the railway line will cause and where possible given suggestions on where they can improve their designs. We hope that by explaining exactly what effects the proposals will have on the county we can prompt a rethink in areas of the planning, reducing the impacts on people near the route.

Remember you can follow me on twitter @pebatkins for latest updates.

Philip Atkins

Leader of Staffordshire County Council

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