At the LGA conference promoting the county

I opened the Centennial Garden at Dove First Primary School in Rocester.  This year the school celebrates its 100th birthday, having been originally built in 1913 as the original school was not large enough.  Well done to everyone who has worked on the project cutting back the overgrown hedge to get it to where it is today – it looks brilliant.

Following the Chancellor George Osborne’s speech on the spending review, I was pleased with the news from Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander MP in his speech outlining the Government’s plans to increase capital spending plans by £3 billion a year, from 2015.  I do agree with him that we need a long-term infrastructure investment plan to ensure that Britain can compete in the global race.  For Staffordshire to prosper we also need investment in good infrastructure, and as part of the plan the M54/M6 link and M6 will all be receiving the attention of motorway development teams.

This week I have been in Manchester at the Local Government Association. I attended a fringe event where we announced the launch of our “Powerhouse Central: Changing Partnerships” Report. The document outlines how the City Deal has helped forge a working partnership between Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council like never seen before.  Minister for Local Government Brandon Lewis joined the panel debate and was very positive about his visit when he heard of our proposals from local business and politicians. It is now for Government to continue to deliver, to support our approach and devolve more powers so that we can unlock the potential of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to be the economic powerhouse for the local, regional and national economy.

Also at the LGA Conference, Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, revealed in a speech that Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP will be one of just three areas to pilot a radical new scheme that will promote development in skills and help get people back into work. The speech outlined how the Skills & Funding Agency will design financial incentives giving LEPs influence on skills training over further education providers to deliver skills training and courses that support their local economy.

All in all we’ve had a busy few days but it’s satisfying to see our hard work and innovative thinking starting to pay off and be recognised by Government.  This proves we are ready for the challenge of developing our area and that with Government support we can drive growth and make a real difference.

I’ve mentioned Equipo before as the young enterprise team from Alleynes High School who represented us in the UK finals. Sadly they didn’t make it through to the European finals but they did incredibly well to get where they are, flying the flag for Staffordshire. Huge congratulations to them.  They have great energy and a good business and one which could still achieve significant opportunities.  You can see more from them at www.equipo.co.uk.

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