In the national arena

On Wednesday I attended an event in Birmingham hosted by David Cameron for local business and government leaders.

I discussed our Tipping Street development with Caroline Spellman MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Tipping Street will help transform the way we deliver services through modern and flexible ways of working – and after a root and branch review of the project last year, it has become an investment that will save money in the long-term and be a catalyst for increased value-for-money. We simply can’t adopt some of the modern working practices we need in our existing antiquated buildings.

I’ve also been to Stoke-on-Trent City Council to discuss Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) – sorry about mentioning them again, but they are important. I’m spending so much time in the Potteries recently that I pulled their leg and asked them for my own car parking space and office! Stoke-on-Trent is a crucial sub-regional partner for us along with all our own existing partners across the whole county, and the economic wellbeing of the city and the county are inextricably linked. Stoke City Council agreed last night to enter into detailed discussions with neighbouring Councils and businesses with a view to agreeing a Local Enterprise Partnership.

As I’ve mentioned before, LEPs will have to defy convention if they’re to bring results and our county’s boundaries are porous and definitely not impermeable.  We are already working with developing strategic alliances with neighbouring partners in the Black Country, Cheshire and Derbyshire for the express purpose of securing private sector growth and jobs.

The private sector will be crucial to make LEPs work. We have begun the hunt for a chairman for our LEP. The ideal candidate will be a captain of industry of national of international standing who will be an ambassador for our county at home and abroad.

I’ve been also talking to Trent and Dove Housing Association about ExtraCare projects in Burton and Uttoxeter. ExtraCare is helping more elderly people live independently with easy access to the support they may need, and the projects already running in Staffordshire have been a great success.

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