WHEN I was growing up, the Thames Barrier was being constructed to protect London from flooding.
It was closed 10 times in its first 10 years of operation. This year, 30 years after it opened, it has already been closed 40 times.
Those who built the Thames Barrier were both far-sighted and building on the experience of the terrible floods of 1928 and 1953. In Stafford too, defences constructed over the past 30 years have protected us from serious flooding.
Other major decisions which will affect us for decades are now being taken. The expansion of MoD Stafford will establish it as one of the seven major army bases in the UK, a welcome boost to our town and economy for a long time to come.
The proposed closure of the main Staffordshire University campus in 2015 or 2016 is a blow.
But work is under way to see how we can attract higher education, research and more skilled employment to Stafford for the long-term.
The coming week also sees the decision, by the Health Secretary on the future of Stafford and Cannock Hospitals.
Whatever he decides, I am determined that we continue to make the case for the high quality local health services which we need.
Without the huge efforts of our community and the campaign organised by Support Stafford Hospital and the Working Group, we would never have been able to challenge the inadequate proposals put forward a year ago which would have seen the total removal of A&E and acute care.
I believe that our vision for Stafford – within a University Hospital Trust – providing and supporting a wide range of integrated acute, elective and community services is both far-sighted and based on real experience.
A long-term, community-driven, approach, whether to flood defences, infrastructure, education or healthcare, is essential for the wellbeing of future generations.