Message from Andrew Mitchell

21st August 2020

My twenty second weekly message to my constituents and local residents across our Royal Town will take a slightly different format this week as I am pleased to share an important update from Cllr Simon Ward, Leader of our Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council.

Firstly, I would like to congratulate local students on their GCSE results this week. The last few months have been incredibly difficult for students and I appreciate that many young people have struggled since the lockdown restrictions were introduced in March. Students have had to cope not only with significant disruption to their formal education but also huge changes to their extracurricular activities and social lives. I do not for a moment underestimate the impact that the restrictions have had on their stress levels and overall wellbeing.

Since last week I have been in regular contact with the Secretary of State for Education, raising concerns on behalf of local headteachers and pupils about the system used to award grades to students. While no system is perfect, I was deeply concerned about the impact of the algorithm and I am glad that this has now been addressed. I appreciate some concerns remain and I am following up on specific cases on behalf of students across our Royal Town with the relevant authorities.

This year's cohort has faced unprecedented difficulties and it is right that this current generation of students should receive strong support at this difficult time.

In the last two weeks there has been a steady increase in the rates of Coronavirus infections across the Birmingham local government area. Last week the rate of infection stood at 29.2 per 100,000 compared to 15 per 100,000 on 25 July. The increase in infections has largely occurred in small workplaces, larger households (that have been connected with other households via social and family networks) and care homes. Birmingham City Council has taken immediate steps to limit the spread including restricting visitors to care homes earlier this week and Birmingham will see additional testing rolled out in the coming days. The rates for Birmingham are well below other areas of concern such as Northampton and Oldham but it is important that we are proactive and take steps to prevent the infection rate increasing further.

With this in mind, the focus remains on encouraging testing, reminding people that visits to other households should be limited and mass gatherings indoors should be avoided to prevent the spread of the infection. While few patients are in hospital locally with Covid 19, it is extremely important that we all do our bit to protect vulnerable members of our society. Only by doing that will we be able to prevent wider restrictions or even a local lockdown being implemented over the coming weeks.

I have talked to the Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council and Matt Hancock and also stressed the importance of differentiating where possible between parts of the Birmingham local government area which are less affected by Covid, such as our Royal Town

I would like to thank Simon for contributing to my weekly message and for providing an update on some of the developments that have been taking place as we continue with our local regeneration plans. Covid 19 has added to the pressures facing our high streets and it is credit to our Town Council that as well as dealing with the immediate pressures of coronavirus, our the Council has continued apace with plans to improve our town centre.

Update from Cllr Simon Ward:

“I would like to start by thanking Andrew for the opportunity to share his weekly message.  As the Leader of Town Council I have come to value immensely the support that Andrew gives us in everything that we do.  Developments around our Town Centre were at the forefront of work that Andrew and I were engaged in pre the COVID-19 pandemic, working particularly closely with Andy Street.  I am pleased to be able to share an update with you on this most pressing challenge for our Royal Town.

This week saw the publishing of the Sutton Coldfield Town Centre Masterplan by the Town Centre Regeneration Partnership (TCRP) – a coalition of the Town Council, West Midlands Combined Authority, Birmingham City Council, The Local Enterprise Partnership; Chamber of Commerce; BID and community Groups.

The document sets out an ambitious road map to making Royal Sutton Coldfield town centre a great place for local people, visitors, businesses and investors in the short and long term.

At the heart of the Masterplan are a series of exciting ‘Big Moves’. These were shared during February and March 2020 with residents, organisations, and landowners, and subsequently refined to produce the final recommendations, including:

  • Reducing segregation caused by the ring road to better connect Birmingham Road, Parade, High Street and Sutton Park – breaking the ‘concrete collar’;
  • Protecting and promoting the historical environment in the town centre, living up to the ‘Royal’ name, and introducing more natural features and planting:
  • Creating new innovative public spaces at the heart of the Town centre – inspiring more community use, and improving the look and feel of Parade and Lower Parade offering more seating, lighting and greenery;
  • Balancing the space given to cars, bicycles and people to create safer,  more appealing streets; and
  • Encouraging opportunities to broaden the type of shops, bars, restaurants and community and heritage facilities in the town centre, while promoting opportunities for town centre living;

The publication of the Town Centre Masterplan marks the starting point of a long overdue major investment and regeneration journey for our Royal Town. Producing the Masterplan in under a year, amid a global pandemic, shows the resolve of the Town Council and other TCRP partners to giving our Royal Town the Town Centre  it deserves.

We are not resting on our laurels though – this is just the beginning. There is much more work to be done to make the ambitious yet achievable ‘Big Moves’ a reality, and members of the TCRP, landowners and businesses are already working on the next steps needed to deliver the plan.

The Masterplan sets a clear, shared vision of the future for Royal Sutton Coldfield, providing a route map to develop a resilient, vibrant, and diverse town centre through coordinated regeneration activity with community at its heart. Proposed development will help address real economic and environmental challenges while ensuring Royal Sutton Coldfield continues to be an attractive destination to live, visit, work or invest in. The aim is to create a safe and innovative town centre and to unlock future potential by attracting and retaining businesses, by transforming the public realm, and providing space where people, community events and businesses can flourish together. The Town Council is looking forward to sharing more developments over the coming months.” 

Meanwhile, as your MP I am here to help. If you feel I can assist with any concerns, please do not hesitate to get in contact by emailing me on andrew.mitchell.mp@parliament.uk

 

Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP