Supporting Staffordshire’s rural communities

While it is easy to forget 80% of Staffordshire is rural, rural communities and business play an invaluable part in Staffordshire’s success and will continue to get the backing they need thanks to Staffordshire’s Rural Declaration.

The signing of the Declaration by over 40 organisations back in March and the drawing up of a Rural Strategy is enabling people and businesses to enjoy continued success.

Through the Declaration we are all making better use of the available resources, closer working together, sharing expertise and avoiding duplication. It also helps to address issues and challenges that rural communities face.

We will continue supporting rural businesses through our superfast broadband commitment, backing the community council’s bulk oil buying scheme, business loans, county farms programme and using rural companies as suppliers.

It was a different time 25 years ago when our Knutton Enterprise Centre in Newcastle opened its doors in 1988. The centre, like all our enterprise centres, continues to help start-up businesses to grow the county’s economy while providing valuable jobs.

Across the county there are 13 enterprise centres offering a mix of units on flexible tenancy agreements a real draw to new businesses which do not want to get tied into long-term rent agreements.

Last year Cannock Chase enterprise centre celebrated its 25th year while Burton marked the same anniversary earlier in 2013.

Our residents tell us that they value the services provided and I’m delighted to see so many units occupied and that the businesses are doing so well. It is important that our future business economy continues to evolve and grow and that our entrepreneurs have a chance to seize that opportunity.

As public consultation on the proposals to dissolve Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust continue, the Trust Special administrator has been asked to attend a special meeting of the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee.

The scrutiny meeting, at 9.30am on 2 September has been called to allow us to question the administrators about the implications of the proposals not only for those residents who currently use Stafford and Cannock hospitals, but for the wider health economy in Staffordshire. It’s a public meeting which is also being webcast on www.staffordshire.gov.uk – just search for “webcast”.

As I have said before it is vitally important for residents to have their say, so I would urge people to get involved in the consultations, either at the events or via the website. You can find more details at http://tsa-msft.org.uk/consultation/.

Philip Atkins

Leader

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