Scotland to remain as part of the UK

After months of campaigning on both sides I am really happy to see that the Scottish people have decided for Scotland to remain as part of the Union. The United Kingdom is one of the most successful unions in the world and we’re definitely better together. At the same time I would like to see the continuing approach in greater devolution for cities and counties. Devolving more power to our cities and county areas allows more decisions to be better made locally allowing areas to grow their economies and improve the lives of people living in them.

More power over property taxes and then income taxes and the right to reinvest savings to increase revenue would all help our regions. After all, our counties and cities are the drivers for the country’s economy but we  still need a mechanism to share the extra wealth creation in London across the rest of the country.

Our recent City Deal ‘Powerhouse Central’ demonstrates what can be achieved through less control from Westminster.   We’re now building on the unique heritage, know-how and skills of the people of the county and city which is helping create thousands of jobs over the next decade.

It’s also pleasing to see that employment opportunities are continuing to grow here in Staffordshire as news shows the number of people claiming job seekers’ allowance has fallen yet again. It’s now at 1.3%, which is its lowest rate since 2007 – that’s pre recession.

The future is certainly looking bright – we continue to see business expansion, inward investment success and ongoing site development, in addition to more small and start-up businesses.

A lot of hard work is going on across the county to ensure businesses of all sizes can thrive. We are seeing more start-up businesses which are vital to our economic growth and job creation and we’re doing all we can to back them through our business loans scheme, enterprise centres and advice line. Our drive to increase skills for all so our workforce can match the needs of business is also stepping up, working closely with the LEP, Education Trust and our education providers.

In other not so good news, we heard of the announcement that mobile phone retailer, Phones 4u has been placed in administration. This is devastating news for its employees up and down the country, and in particular for the 500 people based at its headquarters in Newcastle. Although we are still waiting on the administrator’s decision on the company’s future, we will be working together with our partners like Jobcentre Plus to support any staff affected by the closure.

This week we also had a visit from members of the HS2 Select Committee who are touring the county to see for themselves the impact Phase One will have on our communities. And, as you’ll know from reading previous posts we are committed to getting the best deal we can for Staffordshire. This means reducing the impact of the route, getting timely compensation for residents and securing any economic benefits there are for the county.

This is an opportunity for the people making the decisions to see the impact the scheme will have on our landscape and communities. It’s also a great opportunity for local people to talk to those involved and raise their concerns.

We will also be giving evidence before the Select Committee in London in October and arguing our case that by modifying the design will help reduce the direct impact on communities and on the landscape – particularly on the skyline view of the three spires of the Grade 1 listed Lichfield Cathedral.

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