Good news for our local economy

I am sure you were as delighted as me with the Chancellor’s announcement in the Autumn Statement that a multi-million pound Government investment for the A50 corridor will go ahead.  Staffordshire County Council has been working hard with the Highways Agency to lobby Government to secure this support and it’s very pleasing to see our efforts pay off.

This is great news for businesses and communities right along the A50, promising to cut traffic jams and speed journey times along one of the key trunk routes linking the East and West midlands. Some of our key manufacturers line the A50 and it is heavily used by hundreds of thousands of visitors to Alton Towers each year, so many people are set to benefit from the improvements.

Staying with the Autumn Statement, The Chancellor also made it clear the public sector is expected to deliver while tightening its belt and in Staffordshire we will continue to look at innovative ways to reduce waste and duplication, and attract new investment.  We will work even closer with partners to ensure the county’s £7.5 billion total public sector purse works even harder for the residents of Staffordshire.

And even more great news for Staffordshire this week as JCB announces £150m pound investment in jobs and buildings at their Headquarters.

Local people will benefit from an additional 2,500 jobs over the next five years at the companies sites but also potentially 7,500 more jobs in the supply chain. That means more money in people’s pockets locally which will ultimately strengthen our entire local economy.

JCB is not only a major local employer but a real British manufacturing success story taking its place on the global stage, it’s also Staffordshire born and bred. So it’s a company we should all be incredibly proud of and this tremendous news really shows the strength and health of engineering and manufacturing in the county.  You will know our top priority is creating the right conditions for new and existing business to thrive by upgrading roads, investing in new sites and infrastructure or improving education and training, to produce a highly skilled talent pool to supply major employers.  I look forward to supporting JCB with their expansion plans over the next few years.

We are also giving people the chance to put their questions to county health chiefs over the next few weeks at a series of meetings organised by our scrutiny committee.  Bosses from our key health partners will face questions from the public and scrutiny on their performance over the last six months.  It’s vital that the people who are directly responsible for running health services in the county hear first-hand from the people who use the services, so I would certainly encourage people to attend.  Further details of the meetings and the work of the scrutiny committee are available at www.staffordshire.gov.uk

I also chaired our quarterly Local Government Pensions Fund meeting which presented some encouraging news on the performance of the fund.  It’s now worth £3.2 billion which has seen it almost double over the last four years from 1.6bm.  Good strategic fund management and a stock market heading in the right direction helping with this.

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