Royal town’s MP delivers “Churches together Lenten Lecture” at Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church on “a vision for Sutton Coldfield; how Christians can participate.”
In a wide-ranging lecture about Sutton Coldfield’s present and future the Royal Town’s MP, Andrew Mitchell, said:
“Above all our Royal Town faces three crucial challenges.
First, our Town Centre is profoundly challenged by current high street retail conditions. That is why, working with our Royal Town Council and their Leader, Simon Ward, along with our team of Birmingham City Councillors, we are determined to address this – spurred on by the closure of M&S and other much valued local shops. We are working together with the Mayor, Andy Street, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), and alongside the owners of the Gracechurch Centre, M&G, whose thinking and vision for our Town Centre is crucial to progress. It is immensely frustrating to all of us in Sutton that this takes so long, but I have asked the Government to consider an application from Sutton Coldfield to the High Street Fund. This Fund has been set up by central Government to help Towns address current issues.
I also believe that the sooner the Town Council can take over the Royal Sutton Coldfield Park the better. It will be far better for our Park to be run under the leadership of the Town Council which is by definition very local, rather than by the more remote Birmingham City Council. I very much hope we can negotiate a successful way forward – crucial to this will be also having control of the existing budget otherwise my constituents would face double taxation.
I want to see our great Town Hall as well as our Cottage Hospital used far more for local benefit and hope that we can attract the investment and imaginative ideas to make both our Town Hall the finest in the West Midlands and our Cottage Hospital a real asset, particularly for older local people.
Of course, within in Sutton there are many problems to be tackled. Homelessness rightly attracts our attention, as does loneliness where fortunately many of our local organisations are engaged in tackling this issue, particularly among older folk. Although crime is low in Sutton Coldfield, and on any national survey our Royal Town is always one of the most desirable places to live in Britain, we have recently had an outbreak of car crime, which has caused considerable local anxiety. At the meetings I have held with Senior Police Officers, including the West Midlands Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner I recognise the determination to end this disgraceful scourge which has particularly affected our area.
In spite of the challenges we should never forget how fortunate we are in Sutton Coldfield and the real opportunities and advantages we enjoy. We are a cohesive community and we do not take these advantages for granted – a point I made when I visited our Muslim community to attend Friday prayers recently following the appalling attack in New Zealand.
We are very lucky in Sutton Coldfield, and in Birmingham, that thanks to the leadership of the faith communities, community relations are so harmonious and successful – again something that also should not be taken for granted.”