This is my twenty fourth weekly message to my constituents and local residents across our Royal Town. If you would like to keep in touch, my brand new email newsletter will launch shortly and will include updates about my work in Sutton Coldfield and Westminster. If you would like to subscribe you can do so free of charge here: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/su/bhE9MGy/AndrewMitchellNewsletter
This week Parliament has returned after the summer recess. On Tuesday I spoke on BBC Newsnight to discuss the challenges facing the Government over the coming months (available to watch back here https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000m7q0) and on Wednesday I contributed in the House of Commons about the newly created Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the importance of using our aid budget to protect the world’s poorest women and children (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgMr7eY1uAg )
Next week is set to be another busy week in Parliament especially for my campaign on assisted dying. On Thursday I will co-chair a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Choice at the End of Life in order to discuss the importance of holding an inquiry into assisted dying and the group will also look at the ways in which the police deal with cases of assisted suicide.
As mentioned in last week’s message I remain extremely concerned at the Labour proposal to close our Royal Town’s police station. Alongside our local Conservative candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, Jay Singh-Sohal I have launched an important petition so that residents can show their support, if they wish, for the future of our local police station. The petition can be signed here: https://www.savesuttoncoldfieldpolicestation.co.uk/, please do consider adding your name.
I have had a full day in our Royal Town with a series of meetings and events and an afternoon advice session for constituents covering a wide range of issues and concerns.
This morning I caught up with some of those who run Wyndley Leisure Centre including Brian Taylor the Chair of Birmingham Community Leisure Trust. We discussed the challenges facing the physical activity sector and the importance of exercise in supporting the long-term health and wellbeing of the country. I hope there will be opportunities for Wyndley to contribute in the run up to the Commonwealth Games. In the meanwhile, I am very keen that Wyndley should provide opportunities particularly for children learning to swim.
Today I had an interesting conversation with the Aston Villa Foundation about their programmes covering health, wellbeing, education and inclusion which support local communities across the greater Birmingham area. While the initial lockdown restrictions in the spring caused some inevitable disruption, the foundation has adapted to provide remote support to some of the most vulnerable people during these challenging times.
During lockdown, staff have been organising stay-at-home activities for young people including weekly virtual youth forums, online FIFA tournaments, inter-generational activities and virtual challenges, as well as more specific contact with those young people within the project deemed the most vulnerable. Alongside Kicks, weekly phone and video calls have been made to participants on the Villa Intervention Programme. ‘VIP’ started in January and aims to mentor young people involved or at risk of being involved in youth offending activities, with young people referred in to the programme by a range of statutory agencies. The Health and Well-being team have also continued to engage with the vulnerable adults through weekly phone calls and have supported dementia carers with activities and games that they can play with the people they care for and look after. I am very grateful to Aston Villa Foundation for the work they do in the Royal Town and for their link with Sutton Coldfield Town Football Club.
My morning of sport and activity continued as I also visited Jon Bury and Nigel Cox at their gym which is based at 5 Union Drive in Boldmere. I helped Jon with a Business Support grant earlier this year and it was good to catch up with the team and hear about how they been getting on since their facility opened again in the summer. Alongside a guided tour of the facilities I also found out more about the classes that are on offer including high intensity training and yoga. I know that many people have missed class based exercise and it was good to hear about their flexible training and membership options which allow people to choose from single classes to unlimited packages, another example of a small local business working hard and developing new ways of working in these challenging times. Although firmly rooted in Boldmere, their facilities are available for all across Sutton Coldfield.
I also visited ARK Community Church with the Mayor of Sutton Coldfield Jane Mosson and met local Pastor Stephen Eaves and Lynn Jennings the Community Engagement Leader. We saw the results of their refurbishment and their plans for a building not in use for much of the last decade and previously occupied by Four Oaks Boys’ Club. Their engagement with young people in the local area is both committed and formidable, supporting local people with disabilities as well as a number of single parents. They have recently partnered with the National Citizen Service and are working closely with our mayor during her current term.
This afternoon I visited Sona Moshirfar who runs Sutton Bridal Studio on Jockey Road with her husband. Today marks the couple’s 12 anniversary of moving to the UK from Iran and it was wonderful to see how they have built their business. The wedding industry has been particularly hard hit by the Coronavirus restrictions so as for so many others, they have faced a very challenging time. I hope that those working in the wedding industry will start to see a return to more normal times.
Tomorrow the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra will be celebrating its 100th Birthday. The Orchestra’s first-ever concert was at 7pm on Sunday 5 September 1920, at the Theatre Royal in New Street, conducted by Appleby Matthews. 100 years later, to the hour, their special Centenary Celebration will be streamed – for free – on YouTube, Facebook and a range of other websites (including Classic FM).
The Orchestra will be joined by Sir Simon Rattle – 40 years to the month since he started as the CBSO’s Principal Conductor – and by three other special friends. Nottingham-born cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Leicester-born sitar player Roopa Panesar will both perform with the Orchestra, and Birmingham-born actor Adrian Lester will present the whole event. The programme is an eclectic one, and features music by Elgar that was played in that very first concert, as well as two pieces by living composers. You can find out more here: https://cbso.co.uk/event/cbso100
This afternoon I made a close inspection of the new cycle lane in Brassington Avenue. I will shortly be putting up a video of what I found. I want more facilities for cyclists but during 40 minutes of rush hour that I was there we did not see a single cyclist but we saw quite a lot of cross queuing motorists.
My regular advice sessions and constituency visits will continue over the coming months. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org