THE Leader of Staffordshire County Council, Philip Atkins, is to stand down as Leader after 11 years in charge of the local authority and five years as Leader of the Opposition.
A county councillor and representative for Uttoxeter Rural division in East Staffordshire since 1987, Philip was awarded an OBE in The Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2016, for services to local government over more than three decades, including on district and parish councils.
During that time Coun Atkins has served as Deputy Leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council, vice chairman of the County Councils Network, Chairman of West Midlands Councils and been a member of Midlands Engine and Midlands Connect.
Coun Atkins is a farmer and has always balanced his demanding day job with public duties. He said: "It has been an enormous privilege to lead the county council during one of the most challenging periods in the history of local government, and I believe now is the time to pass on to another.
"I will not be disappearing however as I have much still to do and offer Staffordshire in our economic recovery after the upheaval of the recent pandemic, which is taking up more and more of my time.
"Both Staffordshire and the council have changed enormously during that time, and much has been achieved by always focusing on delivering better outcomes for the people of this great county.
"I take great pride in the way this well-run council helped to lead the county out of the financial crisis of 2008, reigniting the economy, creating more jobs and transforming local public services to achieve the best outcomes for Staffordshire’s residents.
"None of this could be done without the efforts of both Members and staff over that time, and as an example I value the work of our child protection social workers in exercising fine judgements on the best decisions for vulnerable children. This saw our Children’s Service improve from an Inadequate Ofsted rating when I became Leader to close to Outstanding today.
"Landmark developments such as i54 South Staffordshire, Keele Innovation Centre 5 and 6, Branston Locks, Stafford Western Access Road, Redhill, Lichfield Southern Bypass and more have put the county on the map, built confidence and attracted more investment, more jobs and more prosperity.
"At every turn the council innovated, strived to find new ways of working and inspired people to play a more active role in their communities. Nowhere was this more evident than in our response to Covid-19, as the whole county came together to protect the vulnerable and support one another.
"The county council is in a strong position, and financially stable, and I have every confidence that Staffordshire will bounce back from the pandemic. I will remain as the division member for Uttoxeter Rural and will stand at the next election. I offer the new leader and cabinet my continuing support in the months ahead.”
Current deputy leader Alan White is set to become the new leader during a vote at a full council meeting this Thursday, (July 23), with Philip White, no relation to Alan, recommended as the new Deputy Leader.
Alan White is current cabinet member for Health, Care and Wellbeing and was first elected on to Staffordshire County Council in 2009.
Philip White is the current cabinet member for Learning and Employability and was elected on to the council in 2017.