The Olympics – one year on

A big Staffordshire congratulations to Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of Prince George, our future King.  The name George also happens to be popular amongst Staffordshire parents, coming in at joint fifth in our top ten names. For anyone interested our top ten boys names in reverse order are Tyler, William, Riley, Jacob, George, Alfie, Oliver, Charlie, Jack and Harry.

All the Local Enterprise Partnership Chairmen, including our own Ron Dougan met with the Prime Minister this week at a special reception to thank the partnerships for their important contributions to rebalancing the economy. Ron raised the issue of energy security and price volatility, speaking of how Staffordshire’s LEP businesses were energy intensive and must be a priority.

LEP’s are an important player in the country’s efforts to promote and grow the economy and we are fortunate to have forward thinking, innovative people leading our efforts.

It is exactly a year since the start of the 2012 Olympic Games and its legacy must be to ensure more young people take up sport. We all saw the positive impact the Games had on our communities as well as seeing some of our home grown sporting stars shine.

We need to nurture our sports stars of the future and we can do this by providing opportunities to try new sports, and we have plenty to offer here in Staffordshire.

On August 9th and 10th we have Staffordshire’s first cycling festival which will see some of the top professional cycling teams visit the county.  As well as the professional race around Stafford town centre and Shugborough, our amateur cyclists will also get the chance to take part in a 35 mile sportive.  School children will also get the chance to ride out before the professionals and show off their cycling skills.  All this at a time when Chris Froome wins the Tour de France in its 100th year as only the 2nd British cyclist ever!  Join in at

An exciting new water sports attraction at Chasewater Country Park should also help increase participation while boosting visitor numbers and jobs. The Wakelake wakeboarding centre is the first of its kind in the Midlands.  Our very own Charlotte Millward from Stafford is a Team GB wakeboarder and demonstrated the sport at last year’s Olympics.  The 17 year old has also managed to secure a job there coaching others. Supporting a new and upcoming sport is exactly how we find the future Charlottes.

Beyond sport we are also celebrating 100 years of our County Farms, where there is as a great a need for them now as then if for different reasons.  I was out with Midlands Today during the week talking to some of our tenants about their achievements and plans for the future.

Many of us are passionate about rural areas and I know how crucial County Farms are to supporting some of the 60,000 new farmers we need nationally to get started over the next 10 years to produce our future food needs and to ensure that rural economies like Staffordshire’s prospers.

We have 102 tenant farms with many local farmers contributing to the local rural economy.  Among the contributions they make, our tenant farmers supply meat, vegetables and milk for our local schools.  By cutting down on the amount of food miles and using the wealth of resources Staffordshire has, we can support local farmers whilst also ensuring children get a healthy and nutritious school meal and help understand where food comes from while securing future food supplies.

We also saw in the week a 0.6 per cent increase in UK economic growth in the three months to June which is encouraging news.  This follows our continued work with our partners to boost job creation and enhance Staffordshire’s position as a leading location for business.  Seeing flagship Staffordshire firms like JCB and Alstom making national headlines for continued expansion is fantastic. We’re also seeing the hard work of our inward investment team reap benefits and the Jaguar Land Rover plant at i54 South Staffordshire has already been extended.

Two of our lollipop men also made it onto the Daily Mail website after it became apparent they had been reunited as father and son after 44 years.  Darren, who was adopted as a young child is a lollipop man in Cannock. He found his biological father Paul who was also a lollipop man working for us in Tamworth.  It also turned out they had actually applied for the same job without knowing they were related.  Read more at  via @MailOnline

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