Message from Andrew Mitchell

11th December 2020
Covid 19

An additional 161 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week 28th November- 4th December compared to an updated figure of 205 for the 21st- 27th November based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.

The 7-day case rate between 28th November to 4th December in Birmingham is now 183.6 cases/100K population, compared to 225.4 cases/100K population for the period between 21st to 27th November.

Over the 7 days leading up to 4th December of all community pillar 2 tests 9.6% are positive, a decrease on the previous week, but still higher than the regional and national averages.

Testing in the community over the last 7 days stands at 1,972 tests/100K population, which ranks 12th in the region.

 

Westminster news and Parliamentary business

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust has been confirmed as one of 50 vaccine hubs across the country. Hospital hubs will not be the only location for the roll out of the vaccine with many more locations likely to be confirmed over the coming weeks.

I have submitted a Written Parliamentary Question to ask the Health Secretary to ensure that we have access to Covid 19 vaccines for all those on the vulnerable list in Sutton Coldfield: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-12-08/126779. I also remain in close contact with our local public health teams about the roll out locally as well as on the issue of testing.

My colleague Neil O’Brien MP who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Loneliness is running a campaign in the run up to Christmas on the importance of addressing loneliness. It affects millions of people of all ages and from all backgrounds. While people can feel lonely all year round, the holidays can make some people feel particularly isolated. I am supporting the “Let’s Talk Loneliness” campaign which aims to reduce the stigma associated with loneliness and to remind people that there’s no shame in asking for help. Throughout December, the Let's Talk Loneliness website is sharing practical advice and inspiring stories: https://letstalkloneliness.co.uk/support

While Covid 19 and Brexit are inevitably the focus of Parliamentary business at the moment, other legislation continues to make its way through the system too. This week I have added my name to a new clause in the Environment Bill which would add the hedgehog to the list of protected animals under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. This would introduce a legal imperative to search for hedgehogs in building developments and to mitigate the impact on their habitat. In the last 20 years hedgehog numbers in the UK have plummeted by 50% in rural areas and 30% in urban areas and I hope that this amendment will be another important step to ensure that hedgehogs are protected.

This week I also signed a letter organised by the National AIDS Trust. We now have the tools at our disposal to end new HIV transmissions nationally by 2030 which would be a significant achievement. The independent HIV Commission has outlined a series of recommendations which could lay the course to end HIV and I hope that the Government will review these closely.

 

Royal Sutton Coldfield updates

As a Patron of Home-Start Birmingham North West, which currently support families across Sutton Coldfield and the wider area, I want to highlight a volunteering opportunity which might appeal to some of my constituents. Home-Start recruits and trains volunteers to help families with young children. This usually involves face to face visits in the family home or local community once a week. More recently they have developed their online support as well as offering regular telephone contact. All kinds of families can find it difficult to cope at times and for different reasons. Volunteers support parents as they develop coping strategies, improve in confidence and help build better lives for their children. If you would like to get involved please contact the team on: 0121 323 5181 or email info@homestartbnw.org.uk For more information please see their website: www.homestartbirmingham.co.uk

Following my message last week about the book donation box in The Works at The Parade, I can now confirm that Home-Start is to receive 40 donated books for pre-schoolers. Thank you to Lee for spearheading the campaign, these books will make a real difference to vulnerable families across our local area. As Sarah Fisher, manager of Home-Start Birmingham North West Central and South West has said, if a child starts school unable to read or write, they are already at a huge disadvantage to that of their peers.

The Norman Laud Association's homes in Sutton Coldfield, which offer short breaks for children and adults with disabilities, are set to close. Alongside Cllr Alex Yip and Jack Dromey MP I have written to the Chief Executive and Chairman of the Trustees. You can find a copy of the letter on my website: https://www.andrew-mitchell-mp.co.uk/content/letter-norman-laud-association  I have serious questions about the way in which the Association has operated recently and their decision to press ahead with closure despite a serious offer from Birmingham City Council: https://pressreleases.responsesource.com/news/100532/council-funded-rescue-package-rejected-by-charity-for-the-disabled/. I have raised a number of concerns directly with the Charity Commission who were also copied into my letter to the Association.

A new West Midlands cycle hire scheme has been announced with a pilot taking place in Sutton Coldfield. The scheme will be launched with a limited trial in the Royal Town in February, followed by a full public launch across the West Midlands from March. The initial plans will provide 1,500 bikes for hire across the West Midlands, of which 10% will be ebikes. The pedal cycles have three gears and will be fitted with laser safety lights. The bikes, on-street docks, locking system and mouldings are all made locally in the West Midlands. To register for updates on the West Midlands Cycle Hire scheme visit: https://www.wmcyclehire.co.uk/

The Health Secretary has announced that hospitals which are part of Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham Women’s and Children's NHS Foundation Trust will all benefit from upgrades such as refurbished wards, brand new electrics and upgraded ventilation systems. The Government has committed £600 million to tackle critical maintenance work in hospitals across England, including 34 projects across our three local trusts totalling more than £5,000,000.

For those that regularly use Birmingham New Street, I have been given advanced warning of major improvement work taking place at the station between January 2021 and June 2022. From 24 January 2021, a series of platform closures will come into force as work continues to replace signalling equipment, most of which dates to 1966 and is reaching the end of its working life. Starting with platform 12, a rolling programme of platform closures will take place until June 2022 to install new state-of-the-art signalling. A full train timetable will be in operation throughout the work, but services by all train operators which use the station will arrive and depart from different platforms, depending on the platform closures in place.

The University of Birmingham has announced a new integrated foundation degree giving direct access to their highly-regarded Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS) undergraduate courses. One of the first of its type in the country, the EPS Futures Foundation Year is designed for students from areas where a low percentage of young people go to university and the scheme comes with significant financial and educational support. During their Foundation Year, students will be fully supported in their transition to university life, assigned mentors and industrial links to facilitate work experience, employment or further study. Full details are available online: https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/fd/futures-foundation.aspx

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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, Oct 2020