Message from Andrew Mitchell

23rd October 2020

Covid 19

An additional 134 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week of 11th-17th October compared to an updated figure of 124 for 4th- 10th October, based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.

The 7-day case rate between 10th -16th October across the whole of Birmingham is now 179.2 cases/100K population, compared to 144.4/100K for the period between 3rd October - 9th October.

Over the 7 days leading up to the 15th October of all community pillar 2 tests 10.9% are positive across Birmingham, this is an increase from the previous week and higher than the regional average of 7.6%.

Testing in the community stands at 2,155 tests/100K population, which ranks 1st in the region. There has been consistent increase in the number of people testing positive across all age groups under 65yrs, particularly in the 20-39 and 40-59 age groups in recent weeks. There has also been a notable rise in the case rate in the over 80yrs group too.

Sutton Coldfield currently has the lowest case rate of all the Birmingham area constituencies.

Westminster news and Parliamentary business

Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer provided an economic update in the House of Commons. I spoke briefly to thank him for the additional measures which he has introduced to support businesses in tier 2 which includes Sutton Coldfield https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDcnDN4ixbc . I also raised concerns on behalf of local businesses, particularly those in the exhibitions, events and wedding sectors in a General debate on Covid-19 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRPH6aJ5kpU&t=28s

In the House of Commons earlier this week I highlighted the consequences to the EU of a no deal exit (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vky-28wLWhw) and raised concerns about indefinite detention for immigration purposes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZLjDlilfFc). I also had meetings with Transparency International and WaterAid.

Earlier in the week Jess Phillips MP and I met Minister of State Lucy Frazer QC MP to discuss HM Inspectorate of Probation’s report of Birmingham Youth Offending Service. The Inspectorate looked at 12 aspects of the Service’s work and gave an overall rating of ‘Requires improvement’. Birmingham Youth Offending Service works with some of the most vulnerable and challenging children across the wider Birmingham area and their work can have a profound impact on the life chances of these young people. It was helpful to have a discussion about several areas of concern including the worrying statistic that just over half of the children known to the Service are not in mainstream education and 11 per cent of under-16s were not receiving any education at all. It is vital that these vulnerable young people can be supported to access education as a path to a brighter and more stable future.

I have supported two colleagues with their Private Members' bills this week. On Wednesday Andrew Griffith MP presented his Vehicle Registration Offences (Penalty Points) Bill which aims to tackle the use of illegal number plates, often associated with speeding and reckless driving. The Bill seeks to amend the punishments for keeping or driving a vehicle with an obstructed number plate, or without a number plate. Currently, the punishment for these offences is a £100 fixed penalty notice increasing to a maximum of £1,000 in court. The proposed legislation seeks to add three penalty points to an offender’s licence in addition to this fine. I receive a significant number of complaints about speeding vehicles and reckless driving from my constituents and I was keen to add my name to the Bill for this reason.

Today while I am back in our Royal Town rather than Westminster I am nonetheless pleased to continue my support for Chris Loder MP’s Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill which will increase the maximum custodial penalty for animal cruelty offences in England and Wales from six months to five years. This will ensure that those who perpetrate cruelty on animals are subjected to a penalty commensurate with the seriousness of the crime and it will send a clear signal that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.

Royal Sutton Coldfield updates

On Wednesday the Leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council Simon Ward and I had a virtual meeting with Secretary of State Robert Jenrick and his team about the progress of the Sutton Coldfield Town Centre Masterplan and plans to secure support for the co-ordination of a town centre wide investment approach.

This morning I visited Boldmere Tennis Club and spoke to tennis coach William Thorley, it was interesting to hear that their membership has increased and that many people are seeking the benefit of exercise and sport during these difficult times.

I also visited Falcon Lodge Community Centre and had a chat with Molly, Liz Chris, Tracey and Joanne. Many of the team and volunteers are working on projects to support our local community, helping families struggling with the cost of school uniforms and helping with the provision of meals and food.

This afternoon has been rather education focused with a series of visits to schools ahead of half term. I met the Headteacher of Hollyfield Primary School Catherine Lewis, Samantha Kibble and Michael Gannon the Associate Head and Deputy Head from Arthur Terry and Debbie Bunn the Head of Fairfax Academy. At Hollyfield it was good to have a discussion about the impact that the last few months have had on the mental health of pupils. It is clear how beneficial class-based lessons are for their students. I will post videos from my other school visits over the next few days but I would like to take the opportunity to thank all the teachers who took time out of their busy schedules to speak to me today, it is always helpful to have these discussions and I will feed back the points that have been raised today with my Ministerial colleagues.

Later this afternoon I visited Cashino Gaming at the Parade and met Tony Boulton to discuss the impact of the 10pm closure on arcades and other similar businesses. It was also helpful to have a discussion about the importance of responsible gambling and the policies that are in place to protect customers.

The Government has launched a local supported housing pilot in Birmingham backed by funding of £1.048 million. The pilot seeks to explore how the provision of supported housing in Birmingham can be improved. Supported housing is accommodation provided alongside specific assistance, to help vulnerable people to live more independently. Short-term supported housing can help those who have experienced some form of crisis in their life. Homeless people and other vulnerable groups, such as those with support needs or disabilities are often housed in this type of accommodation.

Thank you to everyone that has written to me this week. I continue to receive more than a hundred emails each day from my constituents raising concerns and worries. I am replying to emails as quickly as I can, if you have an outstanding email I will be in touch directly over the next few days.

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