Good news as we are ranked in the top three for inward investment

We had a busy last Cabinet meeting with the approval for our new Archives Centre in Stafford and Amey as our Infrastructure+ delivery partner for highways operations and much more.

Firstly we approved our plans for a new partnership with Amey to improve the quality, speed of delivery and sheer breadth of our construction, maintenance and operations. We negotiated hard and negotiated differently to get the very best deal for the county, the council and our communities. The fact that we can deliver this at a reduced cost to Staffordshire taxpayers of £21.5 million in the next five years is even better news.

From Infrastructure+ to historical records, and I have to restate we have one of the best archives collection right here in the county. But we want more people to be able to enjoy these resources and that is why we have approved plans for a new £4m Centre at the Staffordshire Records office on the Eastgate Street site. The new centre will help preserve our collections for many years to come, as well as giving people a much better visitor experience. We have been working closely with the William Salt Library Trustees and local history groups for over a year now to develop the proposals. We also held a month’s consultation in January where we had feedback from over 240 people.

As part of the proposals, a new service will be put in place at Lichfield, as a Lichfield Local and Family History Centre within the Library. This will offer access to digitised collections and microfiche sources alongside the local studies collection within the Library.

Before we move any of the collections we are working with Findmypast to digitise over six million records including parish registers, wills and marriage bonds. This means that visitors will get free access from Staffordshire Libraries as well as the Archive Service offices. We’ll be applying for a Heritage Lottery fund grant to do the work.

I was pleased to be able to welcome the Prime Minister to the county at a visit to the i54 South Staffordshire Business Park. He spent an hour at the new Jaguar Land Rover engine factory to see the progress at one of the most exciting new manufacturing and engineering developments in the region, and indeed in the whole of the UK.

JLR’s investment at the plant, announced back in September 2011, injected confidence into the British economy and into British manufacturing at a crucial time and it is fantastic to see the new facility nearing completion, with the promise of new jobs and opportunities that it will bring.

We have more to shout about after the county and Stoke-on-Trent were ranked in the UK’s top three areas for inward investment in a report published by the Financial Times. Our Local Enterprise Partnership came third out of the UK’s 39 LEP areas for attracting new business and supporting business expansion in the area.

We all know what a wonderful place and people we have in Staffordshire and much of the regional success is driven by the work of our Make It Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Inward Investment Service, telling that story and promoting the county as a sound place to invest. Many companies are drawn to the area by the excellent road and rail links, competitive major developments, a strong engineering skills base and the offer of tailored support for those who relocate to the area.

As many of you will know we are already home to world-leading firms at the cutting edge of engineering, energy production and advanced manufacturing. And, working with partners, we have clear ambitions to strengthen and grow our economy in the years ahead, to bring more, better paid jobs and increased prosperity to people in Staffordshire.

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