Winter preparation underway

Although the cold weather hasn’t hit us properly yet be reassured that our winter preparations are now underway.

Operation ‘Snowflake’ will see our gritting and snow plough crews gearing up and planning for what ever the winter throws at us. The operation has seen the stockpiling of 30,000 tonnes of grit, refreshing procedures, and overhauling the gritting fleet to ensure they are ready to roll into action when needed.

Last winter our gritting crews did a fantastic job in all weathers helping to keep the roads open and the county safely on the move in quite treacherous conditions.  We are all hoping for a milder winter this time around, and Operation Snowflake will help us minimise the impact of ice, snow and flooding on our roads.

I am also please to report that we have agreed to lease a site at Riverway to Entrust, our joint venture company with Capita with a view to building a state-of-the-art business centre.  Entrust are delivering our education support services to schools in the county.

We have always maintained that Entrust’s headquarters would be in Staffordshire, and this decision is a huge step towards making that a reality.  It’s also really good news for Staffordshire’s economy, as it means the extra jobs that will be created as Entrust grows will remain in the county.  We will now be working with Entrust to submit a planning application, as well as putting together a further separate planning application for supported living accommodation on the other side of the site.

Leaders from the public, private and voluntary sectors also met last week at our Staffordshire Hundred event at the National Memorial Arboretum, to look at the key challenges we face while helping shape the future of services for our residents.

More than 40 of the county’s key organisations attended the event with the aim of celebrating and building on our partnership working to get better outcomes for the people of Staffordshire.  Graham Morley was Master of Ceremonies for the evening and Steve Winterflood Chief Executive at South Staffs District Council gave the key speech on how we need to continue and improve our working together in times when budgets are being reduced across most public sector services.  It was a good event with lots of ideas, huge energy and plenty of networking.

Ultimately, the Staffordshire Hundred demonstrates the commitment of both public and private sector organisations to working together in partnership to make full use of all taxpayer’s money for the benefit of the people, community, businesses and the county as a whole.

It was also great to attend the very first ‘Enjoy Staffordshire Tourism Awards’ at the Moat House in Acton Trussel this week.  The event saw the gathering of the county’s tourism providers who contribute about £1 billion to the Staffordshire economy.

Again working together and in partnership proves how we can help boost our tourism income and position Staffordshire as a great weekend and overnight destination.  Congratulations to all who took part in the awards and in particular those receiving gold, silver and commendations for excellence in their fields.

Some winners on the day included the Staffordshire Hoard: Dark Age Discovery exhibition at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery for ‘Best Tourism Event’, Weston Park for ‘Taste of Staffordshire Tourism Award’ and Tamworth Tourist Information Centre for ‘Visitor Information Provider of the Year’. Plus, in the accommodation categories, Alton Towers Resort topped the chart for ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ and Swinfen Hall Hotel for ‘Small Hotel of the Year’.

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