Spring has sprung and lambing is in full swing …

Spring has definitely sprung in Staffordshire and with English Tourism Week upon us, many of us will be looking forward to brighter evenings and hopefully warmer weather.

At Shugborough, the first delivery of lambs has already taken place and for the first time, people have had the chance to come and see rare breed lambs being born. The estate is half way through its spring baby boom with two rare Bagot goats born in the first couple of weeks. These goats are the most endangered species of livestock in the UK and there are only 100 or so breeding females left, some of which are at Shugborough.

The estate opened to the public on 13 March with a host of daffodils in bud in the gardens and a host of new-borns at the farm ready for daily bottle feeding and chick handling activities.  Again, this year there will be lots to do and lots to see at the estate and very much worth a visit.

As mentioned, we have just had English Tourism Week, and it is good to see that our tourism boom continues to draw visitors to Staffordshire. Our tourism businesses will be getting ready for hopefully another busy season.  Last year alone almost 25 million people, from home and abroad, enjoyed day or overnight trips to the county. This helped generate over £1.1 billion in direct spend on accommodation, entertainment, travel, shopping and food and drink which is great for our local businesses.  As well as this, the tourism sector supports over 28,300 jobs in the county.

I have said before we are a great county to visit with a wealth of visitor attractions that we are very proud of. We have Alton Towers, one of the country’s leading theme parks, as well as Drayton Manor Park in Tamworth. We also have a host of other exciting places including the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, St George’s Park and the National Brewing Centre in Burton, Cannock Chase and obviously Shugborough which all continue to attract thousands of visitors.

I am also delighted to report that we have formally agreed Proposals to create the first state of the art Dementia Centres of Excellence in the county.  The multi-million pound flagship centres will be developed in partnership with Symphony – a consortium made up of the Accord Group, Keepmoat and Quattro Architects.

The centres will create a real home-like environment where residents will be able to hold family gatherings, keep pets and have access to communal areas and facilities such as a café.  The centres are expected to open in 2017 – with overall places increasing from 109 in the three residential homes currently run by the council to 135 in the centres of excellence.

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