800 years since Magna Carta and 200 years since Waterloo

It is quite a busy time at the County Council at the moment, perhaps more so than usual with a number of key decisions and significant dates such as 800 years since Magna Carta and 200 years since Waterloo, both significant dates in our national history.

On Thursday we signed a ground breaking deal worth £10m to unlock value from empty and under-used council and police buildings.  The Penda Property Partnership includes the County Council, Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Office and industry leader Kier.  The innovative deal will help us tap into the value of poorly used public buildings, allowing us to raise funding to support our key priorities such as providing care for the elderly.

The new, fresh approach will see buildings revitalised and marketed to offer new jobs, homes and developments.  It will allow more flexibility, greater commercial freedom and has the potential to be rolled out with other partners to improve services and bring investment and growth to the county.

This Saturday (27 June) is Armed Forces Day and we’ll be joining the nation to show our support for the brave men and women who make up the Armed Forces community.  In the week leading up to the commemorations we have a series of events starting with the raising of the Armed Forces flag over County Buildings in Stafford.  Visitors to Staffordshire Place will also be able to browse a range of exciting displays of projects supporting armed forces personnel and their families.

The Stafford Armed Forces, Past & Present project documents the stories of veterans and current serving personnel from MOD Stafford, while the ‘Front Line – Soldiers of Staffordshire’ project by the Staffordshire Regiment Museum has seen the construction of a German trench and a new education programme for school children.

A special business start-up programme which will give armed forces families advice and support to start up and run their own business will also be on hand during the week.  On Thursday with our partners we will be re-signing the Staffordshire Armed Forces Community Covenant which will re-affirm our commitment to encourage good relations between military staff and local communities.

With an increasing number of military personnel at Lichfield and in Stafford, attractions like the Memorial Arboretum, Commonwealth Graves and German Cemetery on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire continues to play its role in both supporting and honouring our armed forces.

Sticking with the military but going back 200 years, we celebrated the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo by unveiling a series of rare documents highlighting Staffordshire’s connections to the famous battle.  Letters, eye witness accounts, a charter praising Uxbridge’s bravery and sufferings, a map of Napoleon’s grave and a diary reporting the battle from the Homefront are amongst the documents brought together in the new exhibition.

It’s a fascinating collection of records that offer a valuable insight into the bloody but decisive battle.  Henry Paget was lord Uxbridge, whose family were from Beaudesert in Staffordshire which is a nice local connection.  The documents include an address from local people in Burton-upon-Trent, sent to Lord Uxbridge commending him on his bravery and a letter of response from him to similar praise from the people of Colwich.  A diary kept by Mrs Hervey from Acton Trussell also provides a unique account of life on the home front as news of the victory filters through along with details of the many who had died on the day.

The Exhibition will be touring selected Staffordshire libraries until October 2015.

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