Message from Andrew Mitchell

27th November 2020

Covid 19

An additional 292 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week 14th- 20th November compared to an updated figure of 319 for the 7 – 13 November based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.

The 7-day case rate between 14th to 20th November in Birmingham is now 335.5 cases/100K population, compared to 337.6/100K for the period between 7th and 13th November.

Over the 7 days leading up to the 20th November of all community pillar 2 tests 14.8% were positive, a decrease on the previous week, but higher than the regional and national averages.

Testing in the community over the last 7 days stands at 2,369 tests/100K population, which ranks 12th in the region.

Hospital admissions range between 40 and 67 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 14th- 20th November.

On Wednesday 2nd December Sutton Coldfield will move to Tier 3 of the new restrictions. Full details of the new restrictions can be found online here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know The first review point for the current tier allocations will take place by Wednesday 16 December. This allows for areas that continue to make progress to be moved down a tier in advance of Christmas.

I have written to the Government alongside MPs from across the Birmingham area and the Leader of Birmingham City Council to ask for details of the evidence base for the ongoing restrictions in the hospitality sector and to stress the importance of support for local restaurants cafes and all those working in the sector at this difficult time. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/show-evidence-city-chiefs-demand-19351763

 

Westminster news and Parliamentary business

On Monday I had hoped to speak in the Westminster Hall debate on the restrictions relating to gyms and sport. Unfortunately Westminster Hall debates have restrictions on the numbers of MPs that can attend and fewer than 20 MPs can join each debate. It is however positive news that under the new tier system, gyms, sports courts and facilities, leisure centres, fitness and dance studios, golf courses, swimming pools, riding centres and outdoor playgrounds can remain open, however there are restrictions meaning that indoor group activities and classes cannot take place in tier 3 areas and I know that many local people are also disappointed that ice rinks cannot open in tier 3. I have raised a number of these concerns directly with the Government.

On Wednesday the Chancellor updated the House of Commons with a Statement on the Spending Review. The measures the Chancellor mentioned included:

  • A further £55 million to help with our response to coronavirus – including £18 billion for mass testing, Test and Trace, PPE and vaccines, and £3 billion to support NHS recovery.
  • A funding boost for the NHS. Next year, the health budget will grow by £6.6 billion. We investing in new technologies, building new hospitals, upgrading 70 more and replacing the vast majority of ageing diagnostic equipment.
  • More money for schools, meaning every pupil in the country will see a year-on-year funding increase of at least 2 per cent. We are also funding our commitment to rebuild 500 schools over the next decade and are providing £375 million to deliver the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.
  • £400 million to recruit 6,000 new police officers
  • More than £24 billion investment in defence –allowing us to provide security not just for our country but around the world.
  • An increase in core spending power for local authorities by an estimated 4.5% (along with over £3 billion of additional coronavirus support and an extra £254 million of funding to tackle homelessness)
  • Capital spending of £100 billion next year, meaning vital investment in roads, rail, hospitals, schools, broadband and housing.
  • A new Levelling Up Fund, worth £4 billion in England
  • A new National Infrastructure Strategy, and a new UK infrastructure bank - headquartered in the north of England - to work with the private sector to finance major new investment projects across the UK.

The West Midlands is in line for more than £1.2 billion of investment following the Chancellor’s Comprehensive Spending Review, including an estimated £800m for public transport projects.

While I welcome these announcements, I am concerned about cuts to our International Development budget and our commitment to help some of the poorest people in the world. Our aid budget is already linked to our Gross National Income (GNI) so inevitably our aid spend would reduce over the coming months as the economy contracts. The reduction from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI is significant and will have a serious impact on some of the world’s poorest people. I raised my concerns directly with the Chancellor (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idWy6C4oJMo&t=3s ) and the Foreign Secretary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ps882dVUxZ0) in the House of Commons.

I also outlined some of my thoughts on Times Radio earlier this week which you can listen to here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOXvhCSn25Y and spent the last hour of Iain Dale’s LBC show on Wednesday speaking to Iain and callers about some of the issues surrounding the announcement in more detail: https://www.globalplayer.com/podcasts/episodes/7DrcDXm/.

Although Britain’s amazing work in tackling deep and grinding poverty is sometimes controversial, in the Royal Town support has always been extremely strong – partly because of the strength of our faith based communities but also the huge number of outward looking organisations with which Sutton Coldfield is blessed.

 

Royal Sutton Coldfield updates

Birmingham City Council has launched a public consultation on the Sutton Coldfield Town Centre Masterplan Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

The masterplan launched last year for the purpose of developing a new vision for our town centre. The partnership is led by our Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council but also involves a broad range of stakeholders including Birmingham City Council, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, Sutton Coldfield Business Improvement District, West Midlands Combined Authority, Transport for West Midlands and local community organisations.

The City Council is now undertaking a formal public consultation to ensure we have the right vision and strategy to transform the town centre. I would like to encourage local residents and businesses to submit their comments to ensure we have a masterplan that reflects local aspirations for the town centre. 

To have your say please visit: www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/economy/sutton-coldfield-town-centre-masterplan  where you can view the masterplan and submit your comments via an online survey. Paper copies of the masterplan are available on request and residents can also attend on-line sessions, one of which is taking place next week. Submissions are also accepted via email: planningandregenerationenquiries@birmingham.gov.uk, or you can write to: North West Planning and Development Team, PO Box 28, Birmingham, B1 1TU. The public consultation on the draft masterplan closes at 5pm on the 15th January 2021.

Throughout the first lockdown the Government provided Birmingham City Council and its partners with funding to support rough sleepers. Thanks to the efforts of our local teams, as part of the ‘Everybody In’ scheme over 140 vulnerable individuals (rough sleepers and those at imminent risk of rough sleeping) were helped into accommodation. To cover the winter period of October 2020 to March 2021 Birmingham City Council has commissioned an additional 900 nights of accommodation. If you are concerned about someone who may be sleeping rough, please use Street Link https://www.streetlink.org.uk

As with the first national lockdown, grant support is available for many local businesses and Birmingham City Council is responsible for allocating funding. There are four different schemes applicable to businesses in Sutton Coldfield area including two covering the time we spent in Tier 2, one covering the second period of lockdown, and one going forward. As a result, businesses might qualify for multiple schemes.  Applications opened on Wednesday with full details available online: https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/50232/support_for_businesses_during_the_coronavirus_covid-19/2270/local_restrictions_support_grant

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced that Birmingham Airport will receive a Government grant of up to £8 million, helping to protect jobs across our local area. The funding will be equivalent to the Business Rates that the airport would otherwise have to pay – meaning that Birmingham Airport will pay nothing in Business Rates in 2020-21.

Congratulations to local businessman Doug Wright, Patron of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and owner of one of the largest McDonald’s franchise networks in Europe for hosting a brilliant virtual fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities earlier this month. The event raised £171,713 to support the charity’s work in creating a home-away-from-home for families of children who are in hospital.

Good news this week too for local staff and students at Aston University, which has been named The Guardian University of the Year 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/nov/25/aston-university-named-guardians-university-of-the-year

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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 speaking in the House of Commons, Nov 2020