Unfortunately this week we have seen a rise in Covid cases locally with 85 new cases registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week of 19-25 September, compared to 29 cases for the week before (which has been revised from the previously reported figure of 26).
The 7-day case rate across the whole of Birmingham is now 135.9 cases/100K population, compared to 79.3/100K for the period between the 12/09-18/09. Over the 7 days leading up to the 25/09 of all community pillar 2 tests 7% registered as positive which is higher than the regional average for the West Midlands as a whole which stands at 4%.
Testing in the community has increased to 2,281 tests/100K population, which ranks 1st in the region. Birmingham now has seven operational walk-through sites and two operational drive through sites with three more sites likely to be created over the coming weeks.
It can take some time for the new measures to take effect and I hope that over the next fortnight with increased testing we will see the cases come down again. I am not in favour of Stasi type snitching. We don’t want to create that sort of society in Sutton Coldfield but I do think it is important that we all continue to abide by the restrictions and do our bit to get the infection rate back down again.
Royal Sutton Coldfield updates
This morning I had a useful meeting on local issues with the leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council Simon Ward. I had a similar meeting last night with Councillor Ewan Mackey, the senior BCC councillor in the Royal Town. We looked at a number of strategic issues and in particular discussed progress on our town centre regeneration plans as well as Sutton Park and the work that is underway with our West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to support both local transport issues and the town centre renewal. We also spoke about the effect of Covid above all on local businesses. We are particularly keen that everything possible can be done locally and nationally in these difficult times to protect local jobs, business and livelihoods.
Today I had the pleasure of visiting Bishop Vesey school and had a most useful catch with the headteacher Dominic Robson. I then went to speak to the Lower Sixth history class and our discussions ranged across the economy, climate change, Britain’s place in an ever changing world and of course Covid 19. I was quizzed on a number of topics including Black Lives Matter, trans rights, nationalism, Coronavirus and climate change. My video chat with the headteacher will be on Facebook shortly (once James has dealt with the subtitles!)
Elizabeth, the Co-Founder of Tudor Rose Cleaning Services and I have also had a video chat about this homegrown Sutton Coldfield company. Her business provides cleaning services domestically and commercially and is a good news story of expansion.
I met Chris Ives at Windsor Partners in the Town Centre. The business has invested in home working and has grown internationally in recent months.
I visited Unique 1 Health & Fitness which is based at the Reddicap Trading Estate. The owners David and Sharon Baker updated me on how their gym has developed over the past few months and coped with lockdown. Earlier in the year they worked on a substantial extension and it was good to learn that they purchased a lot of British manufactured equipment for their premises. It was a pleasure to formally open their new extension and hear of their optimism for the future.
After heading back to the office for an advice session with constituents, I had a catchup call with Mayor Andy Street to follow up on our priorities for Sutton Coldfield and the West Midlands as a whole.
Earlier in the week I had a good discussion with Eco Sutton Coldfield and our Churches team on Zoom talking about climate change both locally in Sutton Coldfield, nationally and internationally.
Yesterday I received an update on our Cottage Hospital from Richard Kirby, the Chief Executive Officer. I am working hard to ensure that this becomes a local medical hub particularly for elder people in the Town. The Executive team has finalised their assessment of the building, ongoing maintenance requirements and options for redevelopment. This work was completed by the end of February and provides the information required for the Trust to proceed to the next stage of their plans. It was welcome news to hear that an assessment has taken place to look at redeveloping the clinical area on the ground floor as well as providing space for community facilities that would provide the accommodation needed for a local “hub” for community services for older people in Sutton Coldfield. Understandably the plans have not progressed further at this stage due to Covid 19 however a review of their estates strategy is scheduled to take place before the end of the year and I hope that further updates will follow.
As some of you may have seen, the BBC has been filming in Sutton Coldfield’s Town Hall. The footage will be used in a period drama about the poet, writer, and soldier Siegfried Sassoon. Peter Capaldi is playing Siegfried in his old age and I believe that the programme is scheduled for broadcast at some point next year. Good to see that our Town Hall was picked by the BBC for its Edwardian features and I hope that it may be considered for further filming opportunities in the future. Congratulations to the Town Hall Trust and management for this innovative and successful marketing initiative.
Westminster news and Parliamentary business
On Wednesday the House of Commons voted to renew the Coronavirus Act for a further six months. I know that many of my constituents are concerned about the powers within the Act and I have raised a number of points directly with the Secretary of State for Health. I have also had useful discussions with civil liberties organisations including Big Brother Watch. It is vital that we strike the right balance between acting at pace and proper parliamentary scrutiny. The Secretary of State announced to the House of Commons that the Government would change its approach for future restrictions wherever possible. For significant national measures, with effect in the whole of England, Parliament will be consulted and wherever possible votes will be held before regulations come into force. I am keen for the restrictions to be eased as soon as it is possible to do so and for a common sense approach to be taken.
During the 90 minute debate on the Coronavirus Act I was unable to speak at length because of time constraints. I however did take the opportunity to highlight concerns of those working in the wedding, exhibitions and events industries. We have many excellent businesses within our Royal Town working within these sectors and I am very keen to ensure that they are able to operate once again. I believe that with the right precautions and support that these businesses should be allowed to trade more widely and I will keep pushing this point with the Government. You can watch my intervention with the Secretary of State here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4ijj0uY-QQ
This week I attended a meeting of the APPG on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax and discussed the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Criminal Conduct) Bill with Reprieve. I also joined the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation for an online discussion about the future of development: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn0SxIexihc
On Wednesday I appeared briefly on the World at One to discuss Brexit and the automotive industry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6I9WbrbEgwtghis this of vital importance to the interests of the West Midlands and of Sutton Coldfield.
Over the past few days I have also received a number of responses to Parliamentary Questions I have asked: https://bit.ly/2EPHkl7
Local events and opportunities
Sutton Coldfield based Human Resources company HR Caddy is offering a free hour long webinar for SME employers next Wednesday the 7th of October. The webinar will look at the options for employers when the Furlough scheme ends. Tickets can be booked online: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/life-after-furlough-what-next-tickets-123042693007
The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has launched a search for the first group of apprentices to work as part of their business administrator team. Other roles in different areas including ticketing, venue development, procurement, workforce, sport, and security are expected to follow shortly. The first new recruits will officially start their apprenticeship in the New Year. Once the successful candidates have completed their apprenticeship (which will last for a period of between 12 and 18 months depending on the role) the apprentices will then continue working until the end of the Games in August 2022. The application process is now open for the first apprenticeships roles: www.birmingham2022.com/get-involved/jobs/apprenticeships
The West Midlands Combined Authority is holding a ‘Careers in Construction’ event next Thursday the 8th of October. The event will feature employers recruiting for flagship schemes such as the construction of HS2. The careers fair is split into two sessions, the first runs from 10-11am and will showcase jobs that are available now through HS2 with construction firms Lendlease, VGC Group, Danny Sullivan and Lynch Plant Hire. To book a place, visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6764485115297908495 In the second session, which runs from 11am-12noon, local people will be able to find out about apprenticeships in construction from employers including BAM Nuttall, Balfour Beatty Vinci, Flannery Plant Hire and McAuliffe Group. To book visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/789546515541270286
I am keen to support local groups, charities and other organisations so please let me know if you have any not-for-profit events or meetings coming up that you would like me to publicise.
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