Winter is here but the gritters are ready

Brian Edwards and Philip Atkins

Brian Edwards MBE and myself have pledged to support 3,500 new jobs and 660 new start-up businesses.

Winter has definitely arrived. With temperatures falling below zero across many parts of the county this week, our army of gritters saw their first real piece of action.

Gritters have been out most nights treating the main routes to help keep the county on the move. On routine winter days and nights crews will be focusing on the major routes and extending to the wider network in prolonged ice and snow conditions.

We’re well prepared for whatever winter decides to throw at us, with a fleet of more than 40 gritters and around 20,000 tonnes of salt stockpiled. But drivers can also play their part too. Regardless of whether a road has been gritted, motorists need to slow down, take extra care and allow more time for their journeys, as the most important thing is that we all get through winter safely.

And don’t forget our Ice Busters initiative, where people can support their Parish Councils and resident associations by providing grit and treating footpaths. As the cold sets in too, please remember to look out for your elderly or more vulnerable neighbours – it’s as simple as knocking on their door to see if they are okay, safe and warm. You can read more about how we prepare for winter on the council’s Winter Travel page.

Great news for people in the South of the county this week with the signing of a deal to support the creation of 3,500 jobs and 660 start-up businesses over the next four years. This is the second South Staffordshire District Deal which sets out a four-year plan which will also see the creation of a skills federation to enable young people to meet the needs of local employers and work clubs set up to support people back into employment. The deal will also build on successes achieved in the district at i54 South Staffordshire – now home to leading global businesses with a workforce of over 3,000 people.

The first District Deal, launched in 2013, has already laid the foundations for closer working, shared resources and improving employment skills in the district.  Our two councils already work closely together and are bringing in major investors and creating the right environment for businesses of all sizes. This all creates increased opportunities for people, resulting in more prosperous and healthier communities.

And sticking with business, this terrific piece of news needs celebrating. Monday saw the launch of our first ever Staffordshire Business Festival. This two-week celebration of our ongoing economic successes will feature over 60 events across the county promoting some of our most successful schemes and projects along with sessions about inward investment, exporting, finance, digital workshops and apprenticeship advice.  Businesses and organisations will also get the opportunity to share expertise and good practice and the chance to network, meet new contacts, customers and suppliers.

Having attended some of the events myself it’s great to see the enthusiasm and energy amongst our business community. It’s also hugely encouraging to see how our projects like superfast broadband and the creation of our business parks are helping attract even more businesses, big and small to the county.  We always put promoting and supporting Staffordshire’s businesses as a top priority and will continue to support growth and attract investment in our county.

As I have said before, Staffordshire is the right place to do business and you can find out why and more about the festival at the Staffordshire Business Festival website. People can also sign up for our business support newsletter where they will receive the latest on opportunities available to them. Visit the Customer Alert page on the county council’s website.

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