Message from Andrew Mitchell

4th December 2020

Covid 19

An additional 202 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week 21st-27th November compared to an updated figure of 297 for the 14th- 20th November based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.

The 7-day case rate between 21st to 27th November in Birmingham is now 225.4 cases/100K population, compared to 335.5/100K for the period between 14th- 20th November.

Over the 7 days leading up to the 27th November of all community pillar 2 tests 11.2% are positive, a notable decrease on the previous week but higher than the regional and national averages

Testing in the community over the last 7 days stands at 2,070 tests/100K population, which ranks 12th in the region.

Hospital admissions range between 20 and 75 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 21st to 27th November.

Westminster news and Parliamentary business

On Tuesday I decided not to vote in favour of the Government’s new tiered system of restrictions. While I appreciate that some measures are required, I did not feel that the Government had got the balance quite right. My correspondence from constituents has been quite mixed on this issue, while some were broadly supportive, the majority of people that have contacted me within the last few weeks have been concerned about aspects of the new regulations. Since I abstained on Tuesday evening I have had a few comments asking why I chose to abstain rather than voting against the Government. In short, it was quite clear before the vote took place that the Government would win. As a former Chief Whip with some insight into how these things work behind the scenes I decided to take a pragmatic approach. Voting against the Government tends to shut down further dialogue on these issues and is very much a last resort. I am very keen to raise further specific concerns on behalf of my constituents, not least in relation to our position in Tier 3 which will be reviewed the week after next. At this critical stage, I am keen to keep a good working relationship with my Ministerial colleagues.

Yesterday afternoon I attended a virtual event with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Malaria No More UK. I joined a panel to discuss the latest data on malaria from the World Health Organisation. I spoke of the importance of the UK maintaining it’s crucial leadership and investment in the global fight against diseases such as malaria, both to save children’s lives today and to help build the very infrastructure needed to protect us all from future pandemics. Malaria No More has created a powerful new short film as part of its current campaign which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l4eTfpIsKw Malaria kills a child every 2 minutes but we are expecting exciting news imminently on a new vaccine.

I also appeared on the Spectator’s The Edition Podcast this week talking a bit more about why I think cutting our international aid budget is a mistake. The segment starts about 14 minutes in for anyone that might be interested in the discussion: https://www.spectator.co.uk/podcast/the-sturgeon-paradox-how-is-she-so-popular-

I have joined a cross-party, cross-sector commission on reforms to the tax system to support the post-Covid economic recovery. The commission has been organised by Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism. Further details are available here: https://brightblue.org.uk/bright-blue-launches-new-tax-commission-to-advise-on-tax-reform/

The Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize, now in its fourth year, is an essay prize competition with the question formulated in partnership with an MP who identifies a policy area they believe is in need of new ideas. This year’s question – developed in collaboration with Dehenna Davison MP – is: “In the current severe economic climate, what pro-market, pro-enterprise policy would be the best way of supercharging growth, employment and living standards in 'left behind’ Britain?”  The competition carries a first prize of £50,000 – plus additional prizes for highly commended entrants and students. You can find out more about the competition on the Breakthrough Prize website: http://breakthroughprize.org.uk/

Royal Sutton Coldfield updates

Thank you to Kabir Uddin and the team at Bashundora Restaurant on Lichfield Road for all their hard work and generosity providing free meals for local NHS staff and other community workers. Mr Uddin is pictured here delivering 100 boxes of food at QE Hospital. He also supported YMCA Sutton Coldfield with meals a few weeks ago too.

Kabir Uddin and the team at Bashundora Restaurant

Lee Davis, Manager at the Works in The Parade has been in touch to provide details of a brilliant initiative he is running to support local charities. Lee has created a box in his store so that customers can donate books which will be given to local children’s charities. The shop is currently accepting donations so please pop in and support Lee’s project if you can.

Sixteen to twenty-five year olds in Sutton Coldfield are being offered the chance to have their say on regional policy. The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) established a Young Combined Authority (YCA) Board in 2019 and the WMCA is now launching a sister project called the YCA Community, which will give a much wider group of young people the opportunity to get involved. The YCA Community will create an easy and flexible way for young people to share their views on WMCA’s plans and programmes, by inviting members to take part in online surveys and discussions. YCA Community members will have the chance to speak up for younger generations on regional priorities, from the future of cities and transport to tackling inequalities. Young people can sign up online here: https://confirmsubscription.com/h/d/9D33E8E93B6DAC06

In recent days several major retailers have announced their intention to return business rates relief support to the Government. I am backing Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce’s campaign which is calling on the Chancellor to #BackOurBusinesses and ring fence the funds to enhance the support available for the businesses that have been most impacted by the disruption this year.

Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. While the run up to Christmas is different from previous years, it is still possible to support small businesses either in person or on the internet and this year the campaign is focused on shopping small and shopping local. We are lucky in the Royal Town to have so many brilliant small independent retailers and this weekend is a good opportunity to support them, particularly when planning ahead for the festive season.

The Small Business Grants Fund, Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund, and the Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund have supported many small businesses through this challenging period. Between April and September over £11.68 billion was paid out to 999,735 business premises across the three schemes, meanwhile statistics show that 11,600 workers have benefitted from the Jobs Retention Scheme in Sutton Coldfield, which is equivalent to 21% of the working age population.

As I mentioned last week, Birmingham City Council has launched a public consultation on the Sutton Coldfield Town Centre Masterplan Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). This week I have submitted my response, largely in favour of the plans but highlighting the importance of focusing on sustainability, protecting our environment and our heritage. You can read a copy my response on my website: https://www.andrew-mitchell-mp.co.uk/content/royal-sutton-coldfield-town-centre-renewal

I would strongly encourage local people, community groups and businesses to have their say. Full details of the plans and how to respond to the consultation can found online:  www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/economy/sutton-coldfield-town-centre-masterplan

The WMCA has awarded Birmingham-based TechTalent Academy £100,000 to set up an ethical hacking, computer network and security challenge centre in the West Midlands, which is free for all schools and colleges in Sutton Coldfield. The centre is also available for residents of all ages to develop cyber security skills and to help those keen to work in the tech industry. During the current academic year 1,000 people will gain hands-on experience in a range of interactive activities, including cyber-attacks and cryptography challenges.

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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