Mon, 30 Sep 2013


I was delighted to join a line up of NHS Leaders on 23rd April at the Royal Society of Medicine in London as one of the conference speakers at The New Digital Health Strategy to showcase Digital Derbyshire. 
Great response from Chesterfield FSB Members on how Derbyshire County Council Regeneration services are helping to support micro and small businesses grow and create new employment opportunities.
Ensuring children and young people are healthy and ready to learn

Young parents and children registrations and participation continues to increase across our Children’s centres month on month, with latest Ofsted judgement as 100% good or outstanding during 2012, higher than the national average of 70%, with 1 centre outstanding for capacity for sustained improvement, 2 for safeguarding and 3 for quality of provision.

Children ready for school

In 2012, following a four year period of stagnated performance, the proportion of pupils achieving a good level of development in the Early Years Foundation Stage was 68% in Derbyshire. This represents almost a 7% increase in performance compared to last year. Only High Peak showed a slight decline from last year but performance was still above national performance.

Ensuring young people achieve a good education

School meals take up in excess of 50% by maintaining competitive pricing of quality traceable sourcing from local organic producers across primary and secondary schools helping in particular young families ensure their children get a decent meal once a day.

• Maintained investment in School Sports Partnership following government withdrawal
• A new facility at Lea Green Centre offering experience for all abilities and disabilities
• 99% of parents receive first choice primary school admissions, 98% for secondary schools
• Saved £100k per year on school transport whilst protecting equity and fairness
• Closing Connexions and developing a new employer focused work experience service
• Year on Year improvements in education outcomes at Early Years, Primary and early Secondary stages

Capital investment in teaching and learning and in new classrooms and schools.

Despite reduced government funding settlements we have retained a School Improvement Service which has just received national recognition as an outstanding example of good practice for all other Local Education Authorities to follow, alongside 7 other local authorities in England.

Delivered a substantial schools maintenance and new building programme that will deliver new schools at Tibshelf, North Wingfield, Shireland, Alfreton Grange, Glossopdale and Aldercar and Langley Mill.

Overall school education standards and attainment for Young People

Standards of attainment for school children across Derbyshire continue to be good and are generally better than, or close to, national outcomes at each key stage.

GSCEs at grades A* to C including English and Maths is 57.2% which for the first time in six years has fallen below the national average of 58.4%, which is line with the national decline in top level grades following 2012 examination boards grade downgrading.

In all key stages at primary have improved significantly, including early secondary school key stage levels. These advances made by our School Improvement Service will start to show positive turn-around results across Secondary School pupils over the next couple of years.
Shipley Lakeside with a distinctive identity, formerly the American Adventure Theme Park, is 81 acres of prime land and 31 acres of water lying within Shipley Country Park.

This page is a place for anyone to share their experiences of this valuable community resource and have your say on what it should be used for in the future.

If your opposed to the current prodomently housing led development planning application email - - your ''Objection to AVA/2013/0186 - Mixed Use development proposal on land at former American Adventure Theme Park.

My idea of its future is to extend Shipley Country Park to the lakeside with boutique development providing small catering and sport and recreation conveyances, creating the largest country park in England. 'A destination of distinction'.

'Give' the western site of the lake to a partner who could contribute to the reclamation of the extended country park, and deliver a state of the art further education campus to attract students 'into' One of Derbyshire's destination's of distinction''.

Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Shipley Park, Horsely and Horsely Woodhouse, Amber Valley Borough Council and Greater Heanor, Derbyshire County Council
The proposed scale of new housing led development (post 2013)
The scale of former American Adventure development (pre 2007)
Shipley Lakeside view prior to American Adventure development
A view of Shipley Lakeside today
Iconic view of sites mining heritage, not what housing developers will want their 400+ new home buyers to see
Derbyshire Labour Market – March 2013

The Derbyshire economy has consistently improved its contribution to the regional and national gross domestic product. Derbyshire's economy is worth around £10.85bn per year and supports a workforce of 275,400.

The key sectors of industry which drive the Derbyshire economy are Advanced Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing, Food and Drink, Research and Development, Tourism and Creative Industries.

Agriculture and Aggregates also play a big part in the County's economic infrastructure with 80% of Derbyshire being classified as rural.

Manufacturing accounts for almost one fifth (18.9%) of all employment, compared to the England average of 8.8%. Three other sectors account for the majority of employment within Derbyshire, these are public sector (31%) and distribution, hotels and restaurants (26.4%) and 23.6% professional and self-employed. Only 14% are employed in medium and large employers.

Invest in Derbyshire received 25 serious inward investment enquiries between November 2012 and January 2013, an increase on the 17 from the previous quarter. Markham Vale, Derbyshire’s Enterprise Zone has contributed £70m infrastructure growth with more than 170 jobs created during 2012.

Latest Jobcentre Plus vacancy data shows a total of 5,543 available jobs in Derbyshire, 62.6% more than in November 2012 and against a national increase of 19.5% a clear indication of a confident private sector. This helps balance public sector job losses, including planned Military redundancies.

Out of Work Benefits
A slightly lower percentage of people than the England average of 12.1% in Derbyshire are claiming Out of Work Benefit at 11.5%, with more than a quarter effected living in Gamesley (High Peak), Ilkeston North (Erewash), Loundsley Green (Chesterfield) and Shirebrook North West (Bolsover).

Adult Skills
A well-qualified workforce is a key factor in enabling the local economy to be competitive. Adult qualifications continue to improve, with Derbyshire having a higher proportion of its workforce with no qualifications than England at 25.7% compared with 22.5%. Shirebrook (Bolsover) and Ilkeston North (Erewash) have had the lowest improvement increase. Areas with the highest qualification increase rate include Hilton (South Derbyshire), Simmondley and Dinting and Burbage (High Peak) and, Duffield and Hathersage and Eyam (Derbyshire Dales).

Unemployment Claimant Count
Currently in Derbyshire 2.9% of people claim job seekers allowance, lower than the 3.6% for England. Since early 2012 unemployment has decreased in Derbyshire greater than nationally, however levels are severely high in Gamesley and Barns (High Peak), Rother (Chesterfield) and Ilkeston North and Ilkeston Central (Erewash).

Not in Education Employment or Training
Overall levels of youth unemployment have declined since early 2012 at 5.4% only marginally higher than the national average 5.3%, and a significant improvement from underperforming both the regional and national average. However, long-term youth unemployment has more than doubled over the last year with 21.3% having been out of work for more than 12 months, although in part thanks to contributions from Derbyshire Conservatives nationally acclaimed 1000 Apprenticeship scheme, again long-term youth unemployment appears to be easing off.

The improvements in youth unemployment are seen in Bolsover, Derbyshire Dales and Amber Valley, with lowest improvements in Chesterfield, South Derbyshire and Erewash.

Economic Climate
With successive quarters of economic growth and positive employment growth, one of the key sectors showing expansion of 7.1% is construction which is likely to reflect new infrastructure investments shortly taking place which include;

• M1 managed motorway between junctions 28 and 31, part of a £1.4bn national road programme

• £500m electrification of the Midland Mainline, including £137m to increase Derby line capacity

Labour Market Participation
Derbyshire has above average levels of labour market participation with an activity rate of 78.7%, higher than the national rate of 76.9%. The county’s employment rate is also higher than average at 72.8%.
The provision of broadband infrastructure and digital services to all our communities is key in transforming the economic and social lives of local people.

Broadband is now essential for modern life, like roads, rail, gas and electricity.

Broadband infrastructure is a critical enabler in driving growth in employment, business productivity and skills and promoting areas, like Derbyshire, as prime locations for investment. Access to superfast broadband improves competitiveness allowing firms and entrepreneurs to create new business models, access new markets, stimulate innovation and interact more effectively with customers, partners and suppliers.

Derbyshire’s approach

Derbyshire was allocated £7.39m funding from BDUK for the delivery of the Digital Derbyshire Local Broadband Plan in May 2012.

Since this time the County Council has been leading the way with demand stimulation activities, receiving over 6000 responses to its survey to find out the user experience for current broadband – the best response to any Council consultation.

The businesses and residents in Derbyshire fully support the digital Derbyshire campaign and have shown this by pledging over 4000 registration.

Across the county we are working jointly with our public sector partners on initiatives and campaigns to raise the awareness and more importantly the benefits that reliable and faster broadband can bring to both everyday life and business opportunities. For example Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service visit many both vulnerable households, and business premises annually to undertake fire safety checks, these front line visits will also now include information on what the individuals benefits of having access to broadband would mean and offer further support/advise as necessary.

We are fortunate to have huge support for the Digital Derbyshire programme which enables the Council to do much more.

Over the last year there have been challenges and among these various delays as BDUK resolved issues with state aid and finalise the framework. More locally we have been working with East Midlands Councils to lobby for broadband infrastructure to be an eligible ERDF activity, this has taken over six months but successfully this week the European Commission have approved the change. This means all East Midlands authorities can now apply for ERDF funding to support their Local Broadband Plans.

The LGA is leading the Digital Exploitation Group which Derbyshire is an active member, the groups focus is on using broadband to benefit local authorities and support the move to digital. As a group of authorities funding can be secured to test ideas through pilot projects, and the findings shared.

Locally I have been actively lobbying BT to extend their investment coverage using the evidence gathered from the Councils consultation, this has resulted in more of Derbyshire being included in BT’s commercial roll out, gaining more enabled fibre cabinets (FTTC) than they had originally planned.

At Derbyshire we recognise that the infrastructure is important, however our focus has to be on education, benefits and potential customer demand as without this the infrastructure will not be maximised for the benefit of our residents, businesses and transforming public service delivery.
Trading Standards officers from Derbyshire County Council are working with the Food Standards Agency to check for horsemeat in beef products. 

The authority is one of 28 local authorities in the UK asked by the FSA to take part in the large-scale survey following the discovery of horsemeat in burgers and frozen lasagne. Officers from Derbyshire Trading Standards are taking samples of beef burgers, minced beef and meatballs from around the county, including from supermarkets, wholesalers, small retailers and caterers.

The samples will then be sent away for analysis with the results due to be published by the FSA in April.

''We are supporting the Government’s drive to thoroughly investigate beef products so consumers can be confident in what they are buying.  In Derbyshire, our Trading Standards team continually monitor all kinds of produce to check its quality and content.  We also have a strong Animal Welfare team.''

“We are happy to be working with the FSA to help ensure shoppers have confidence in what they are buying.”

Every year Derbyshire County Council Trading Standards takes hundreds of food samples to protect the health and wellbeing of Derbyshire residents, where we send samples collected to one of three labs we employ in England. 

Last year we launched a campaign to reduce the level of salt and sugar in bread and sausages produced by local bakers and butchers, I was pleased with the uptake from our Food and Drink Sector which has a wealth of locally produced goods which are healthy options and correctly labelled for consumers.

In fact, our School Meals service only sources meat produced by two local organic farms, which have strong traceability, including knowing the origins of the animals from where the meat came from.  We also randomly and regularly check the food that is produced by our School Meals Services which is free from any ready meal preparation.

As I said on BBC Radio Derby this morning, whilst as a nation we get to grips to this food fraud, and following our efforts to support the FSA national survey programme which I am confident will lead to tighter industry regulation and food labelling standards, ''support your local butcher on the high street and in our local markets, ask where they sourced their meet from, and ask for preparation and cooking tips when shopping, this level of service is not available from a supermarket shelve''.
1000 Derbyshire Apprenticeships created as Derbyshire Conservatives extend our nationally-acclaimed scheme.

In early 2012 I secured financial backing to help 200 small businesses employing less than 50 people across the county take on a 16 to 18 year old apprentice for the first time in our Derbyshire Apprenticeship Grant for Employers scheme.

The drive was a huge success with every placement filled within six months − providing young people from across the county with a career start in a range of occupations including business administration, health and social care, and mechanical engineering.  The first apprentices have now completed their full training, and crucially are being offered full time employment with their company.

My vision for a local authority to support young people and employers was showcased as an example of best practice at the 2012 National Apprenticeship Conference, where I was invited to present to The Future of Apprenticeships, ‘Putting Theory into Practice’. (opens in a new window)

Setting achievable targets free from the obstacles that have prevented employers engaging with the National Programme, and within 6 months awarding all 200 placements to small businesses across Derbyshire, it was a clear indication to me for the appetite of this support from both our young people and private sector employers, so in November 2012, I secured further funding to extend the scheme to create another 300 apprenticeships.

It means, 500 private sector apprenticeships will have been created by 31st March 2013.

"Our Derbyshire grant for employers’ initiative has been a huge success and is providing support for businesses and young people in all 8 districts across Derbyshire.

 "Starting my career as an Apprentice Engineer, I am pleased Derbyshire Conservatives are giving the opportunity to 500 young people to start out in a new industry career and develop skills our businesses recognise as adding value to their workforce.

"Small businesses play a vital role in the Derbyshire economy and Conservatives are committed to supporting them to develop, grow and help our communities thrive."

We've joined forces with the National Apprenticeship Service who acknowledge our local authority scheme, as being top in the East Midlands and third nationally for investing in young people and business skills for the future, and matched our own funding to help us deliver 1000 Derbyshire Apprenticeships which is good value for Council Tax payers.

It means grants of £2,500 will continue to be available for employers to take on an apprentice, subject to meeting the scheme's criteria.  Initially I want our extended scheme to continue to target businesses employing 16-18 year old apprentices, but can be extended to 19-24 year olds where appropriate.

It will also keep targeting businesses employing less than 50 employees, as our economy is mainly made up of micro businesses but again we will be flexible and extend to businesses employing up to 250 and 1000 staff to increase the range, learning and work experience opportunities’ for our Young People.

"It is the ability to design flexible local schemes which won us national acclaim − responding to employers' needs rather than centralised regimes which are often inflexible to engage."

The Derbyshire employer grant scheme is running alongside our own drive to create 500 apprenticeships in Derbyshire County Council which is needed because of the aging workforce.

Businesses will be able to apply for funding through the Derbyshire AGE Grants scheme from January 2013, and I would encourage all employers to get behind our Young People and create an opportunity for them to start a bright and successful professional career.

Further information available from National Apprenticeship Service Small Business Unit on 08000 150 600