Message from Andrew Mitchell

28th August 2020

Thank you to everyone has been following my weekly updates, this is my twenty third weekly message to my constituents and local residents across our Royal Town. Next month I will be launching a new email newsletter, if you would like to sign up to read more about my work in Sutton Coldfield and Westminster you can subscribe here: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/bhE9MGy/AndrewMitchellNewsletter

I appreciate there remain concerns about the possibility of a local lockdown. I have been in regular contact with my Ministerial colleagues, our local public health team and local councillors on this matter. I am very keen to ensure that we do all we can locally to prevent any further restrictions having to be implemented. The rates in Sutton Coldfield remain fairly low.

For the whole of Greater Birmingham the latest figures suggest that the 7-day case rate remains above 20 cases/100K, however the 7 day rolling case rate has been decreasing over the last week following a significant spike in cases between the 9-12th August. The spread appears to be primarily occurring through social interactions within family networks and workplaces where social distancing is not being observed. Thankfully hospital admissions remain low and I was interested to read the thoughts of Dr Ron Daniels, an intensive care consultant at Good Hope Hospital in a thought-provoking article from Nick Horner: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/good-hope-hospitals-dr-ron-18803569.

Birmingham City Council will now be providing a drop and collect covid-19 testing service which will see staff from across the Council, NHS and wider public sector visiting households in different areas. The teams will be offering the free test kits door to door, even for those without symptoms, to help prevent the spread of the virus. Testing is completely free and once dropped off, a volunteer will come back and pick up the completed kit within the next hour. The tests are then couriered to the testing centre and you will have the results back within 24-48 hours by email and text message.

As we look ahead to the autumn months, the Government is encouraging all eligible people to take up the offer of a free flu vaccination. Local authorities in England saw an average 45% of people with serious health conditions under 65 take up the offer of a free vaccine last winter, however the target set by the World Health Organization is to vaccinate 75% of people in "vulnerable" categories which includes many people with long term illnesses and the over 65s.

The Government is expanding our flu vaccination programme which will be available in pharmacies and from nurses and GPs in local practices throughout the country. Flu can be incredibly serious for those with pre-existing conditions. Between September 2019 and February this year, almost 8,000 people died from flu in England alone and in 2017 and 2018, more than 22,000 people died from the virus. Further details of vaccine eligibility can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/

Locally I remain extremely concerned at the Labour proposal to close our Royal Town’s police station. I am working with our local Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, Jay Singh-Sohal to back a campaign to protect our station. Jay and I are working on the campaign and an important petition will be set up shortly so that residents can show their support, if they wish, for the future of our local police station, I hope to provide further details in next week’s message.

I was also concerned to see Birmingham City Council driving their Brassington Avenue cycling scheme through our town without proper consultation with either our Town Council or Sutton Coldfield’s Birmingham City representatives or indeed me as the Member of Parliament. It would appear that no one local was consulted at all and there has not been sufficient consideration of local safety issues or indeed a proper analysis of the benefits of the scheme.

Our local Councillors, Business Improvement District team and others have expressed a number of important points and reservations about the scheme and the safety implications of the changes. I have written directly to the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Ian Ward to highlight the concerns of local residents and businesses.

While I support improvements to help cyclists across the Royal Town, any changes must be carefully thought through and proper local consultation must take place to fully consider the views of residents. It is clear that this has not happened on this occasion and I believe that this once again demonstrates the importance of ensuring that our Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council has the powers to make more decisions locally. Too often Sutton Coldfield is an afterthought for Birmingham City Council and too often policies are implemented without proper consideration of specific local issues. We saw this recently with the debacle over the huge queues at our local household waste and recycling centre and once again we are seeing it with the way in which the Brassington Avenue scheme has been implemented.

With pupils about to return to schools, school leadership teams and other staff have spent the summer months working to make our schools safe for a full return of pupils next month. As the Chief Medical Officer has said, as the risk of contracting Covid-19 in a school setting is small, it is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health and wellbeing to be away from school for any longer. It’s vitally important that we get our children back into the classroom to learn and to be with their friends. I would like to thank all those that have been involved locally in the planning that has gone on behind the scenes to ensure that our schools are safe for students.

We now have fewer than 700 days until the Commonwealth Games and the organising team are looking to secure the final training venues for athletes to use in the run up to the competition. Sporting venues throughout Sutton Coldfield can apply to become training locations – which are still required for athletics, boxing, women’s cricket T20, hockey, netball, artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, rugby sevens, swimming and triathlon. Sports facilities can find out more about the criteria required to become a training venue at www.birmingham2022.com/trainingvenues/

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