Five year plan is on the right track
Dear Sir, — Last week proved to be a very busy time with several meetings scheduled to take place. On Tuesday, I attended the Biddulph Town Council meeting, along with my fellow County Coun Keith Flunder, and it is much appreciated that we are permitted by the chairman to pass on relevant information from county to our town councillors, and answer any questions they may wish to put before us. It does seem to work well.
On Wednesday I was off to attend a full Staffordshire Moorlands District Council meeting, where we heard from speakers from our two main hospitals, Royal Stoke University Hospital, and County Hospital, Stafford, also other local hospitals such as Leek Moorlands, Cheadle, and The Haywood. While the speakers were relatively new to their posts, they did give a good insight into what they had inherited and what they were working on to make improvements. As you may well imagine, there were lots of questions, the majority of which received an answer.
There was also a speaker from West Midlands Ambulance Service University NHS Foundation Trust. Mark Docherty, the director of nursing, quality and clinical commissioning, gave us a good insight into how our ambulance service functions, and it was good to hear that ours is the best performing ambulance service in the country, and had received a CQC outstanding rating on two consecutive inspections. We were advised that new ambulances are regularly being purchased and any over five years old are replaced, and there is a paramedic on every ambulance. It was a very interesting and informative afternoon session.
On Thursday there was the first full county council meeting of the new decade. There was also a financial report on the progress of the five-year county council plan which I can pass on to you, and I trust you will agree that some of these achievements are really good for the residents of our great county. For example, in economic growth, Staffordshire’s has grown from £14.1bn to £16.6bn between 2012 and 2017. Seventy-nine per cent of residents are in employment, higher than regional and national averages, and wages have continued to rise from £28,328 in 2018 to £29,281 in 2019, and remain higher than the West Midlands average of £28,262. Investing in high quality business sites such as the South Staffordshire Western extension, part of the county council’s £480m growth programme has helped to create 7,000 new jobs since 2014, with the potential for 15,000 further jobs. The county council’s super fast Staffordshire Partnership has enabled 80,000 properties to connect, reaching 95% coverage across the county.
For infrastructure our growth programme is helping to unlock the delivery of 15,000 houses, and our investment in infrastructure working with district councils is unlocking significant housing numbers, while Stafford Western Access Road, Lichfield Southern Bypass and Branston Locks will deliver 6,200 new homes.
For education and skills, there has been a significantly increased percentage of good and outstanding schools from 76% in 2014 to 85% which is in line with the national average. Adult skills have also improved, with 56.4% of residents qualified to NVQ level three and above. In 2018 a new high school opened in Staffordshire for the first time in 25 years. The John Taylor Free School in Burton has 210 year seven (11-year-old) pupils and the school will eventually accommodate 1,550 pupils including sixth form.
Around £170m has been invested to create over 7,500 places by expanding schools and opening six brand new primary schools and one new secondary school.
On health and care, the percentage of people in Staffordshire who feel satisfied with their lives has increased from 77% in 2011/12 to 84% in 2018/19. Staffordshire County Council is leading a Staffordshire Warmer Homes initiative to install central heating to 1,000 eligible homes across the county.
The quality of long term care and support is improving, 79% of services were rated “good” by the CQC in August 2019, an improvement on 52% in January 2016.
On families and communities, our children’s social care services retained its overall rating of “good” following an Ofsted inspection in 2019. Staffordshire is the only one of three authorities in the West Midlands to achieve a “good” rating.
By the end of 2019/20 over half (27) of Staffordshire’s library provision will be managed and delivered by the communities they serve. Youth offending was awarded the Restorative Service Quality Mark in recognition of its high quality restorative justice interventions with young people.
I do hope that after reading through some of the improvements made by your county council, you will agree our five-year plan appears to be on the right track, but I have always maintained that we in the Biddulph area are among the most forward looking people in the county, and possibly the most generous, so long may that continue! — Yours faithfully,
County and district councillor
07553 293 343