Alongside your local newspaper, which featured a petition on the subject last week, I am forcefully opposing the most recent manifestation of Birmingham Council’s strategy of sidelining Sutton Coldfield and refusing to invest in Sutton’s key services. The decision to close the Sutton Registry Office is just the last in a series of measures that have a direct negative impact on my constituents. This worrying trend must be stopped.
The Registry Office is a necessary amenity that serves not only Sutton residents but people across the surrounding area that are reliant on the general services provided by Good Hope Hospital throughout their lives. There are approximately 3800 births and up to 1400 deaths at Good Hope Hospital each year. The decision to close the Registry Office therefore affects a huge number of people who are inconvenienced, often at difficult and stressful times in their lives, by having to travel even further to use Registry services.
Not only do these considerations not seem to be understood by Birmingham City Council but the process by which this decision was made and implemented does not stand up to any form of scrutiny. Good Hope Hospital itself was only informed of the decision on 13 January, 17 days in advance of the closure. Upon further investigation I was informed that some 500 letters were sent out, yet in general the Funeral Directors in Sutton did not receive these. This has led to immense confusion and added strain on families, who continued to be direct to the non-existent Registry Office in Sutton.
Over a week ago I wrote to both Sir Albert Bore, Leader of the Birmingham City Council, and to the Registrar General, asking them both to reconsider the decision to close the Registry Office. I am yet to receive even an acknowledgement of my letter to Sir Albert Bore.
I have asked, and will be asking again, on behalf of my constituents for greater clarity on how this decision was reached and a commitment to revisit it based on the objections outlined above and the obvious strength of public feeling against the decision in Sutton Coldfield.