As we come towards a Christmas season that is so different from anything before I want to extend Christmas greetings to all my constituents. Although I shall be posting a Christmas message next week this will effectively be my last message of 2020!
It is an unusual time for me too as I am sending this message from my hospital bed where last night I acquired a new knee. I am lost in admiration for the care and professionalism of our NHS who are looking after me so brilliantly.
I know that the past few months have been incredibly difficult for many local people and businesses. I hope that as we all look ahead to 2021, with the vaccine rollout in place we can be more optimistic about what next year will bring. I continue to raise points of concern on behalf of my constituents with my Ministerial colleagues, including on our local restrictions and in particular support for small businesses and self-employed people.
Over the Christmas and New Year period I will continue to work remotely and I and my team will also be available to help with urgent queries.
An additional 146 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week 5th – 11th December compared to an updated figure of 162 for the 28th Nov – 4th December based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.
The 7-day case rate between 5th- 11th December in Birmingham is now 193.4 cases/100K population, compared to 183.6 /100K for the period between the 28th November- 4th December.
Over the 7 days leading up to 11th December of 22,166 PCR pillar 2 tests, 2,240 (10.1%) were positive, higher than the regional and national averages.
Birmingham ranks 11th in the region for pillar 2 PCR tests, with 1,941 tests per 100k population. We have also seen the introduction of several thousand lateral flow tests in addition to the PCR tests.
Hospital admissions are steady, ranging between 34 and 60 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the last 7 days from 5th- 11th December.
Westminster news and Parliamentary business
To assist directly in the Royal Town, I have joined the Parliamentary Export Programme which will launch properly next year. By joining the scheme I hope to be able offer local businesses access to greater support and advice including structured virtual events with trade experts. I will provide more details early next year.
Earlier this week the Housing Secretary set out amended plans to provide new homes across England. This is an issue of considerable concern across our Royal Town where excessive building in the wrong place is a major bone of contention. The revised proposals will prioritise vacant buildings and brownfield sites in England’s 20 largest cities and urban centres. The funding will be distributed fairly across England rather than concentrated in London and the South East. Shifting the housebuilding emphasis to brownfield urban sites in the West Midlands and northern England, away from rural and semi-rural communities will ensure that new affordable housing is built away from our precious greenbelt. It will act as a catalyst to redevelop our towns and cities and provide more housing in urban centres, helping to increase footfall in our high streets and city centres. I hope that it will help more young people in Sutton Coldfield to buy their first home and assist those that want to downsize to a smaller property with amenities in close reach. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plan-to-regenerate-england-s-cities-with-new-homes. Together with our Regional Mayor Andy Street I have been particularly focused on defending Sutton’s green belt and ensuring minimum environmental damage (in so far as we can) from the new homes proposal at Langley.
People at risk of rough sleeping and homelessness will be able to access extra support across the Birmingham City Council area after the Government announced £792,075 in additional funding as part of a wider plan to end rough sleeping for good. Birmingham is one of 43 areas across England that will share an additional £23 million to pay for drug and alcohol misuse services targeted at vulnerable people at risk of rough sleeping. Thousands of rough sleepers who have been provided with emergency accommodation during the pandemic as part of the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ programme, and people who are currently rough sleeping, will be eligible for the programme. The funding will pay for detox and rehabilitation support, and access to mental health and substance dependence workers for tailored care and advice. The Government has also confirmed that Birmingham City Council will receive £430,000 from the £15 million Protect Programme to provide accommodation for rough sleepers.
The Government has announced that secondary schools and colleges in England, as well as special schools and alternative provision facilities will have access to rapid coronavirus testing from January: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/secondary-schools-and-colleges-to-get-weekly-coronavirus-testing
Royal Sutton Coldfield updates
Christmas will feel very different this year however there are lots of ways to attend Christmas events remotely. St James Church in Mere Green is holding a Online Christingle Service tomorrow at 3pm: https://stjamesmeregreen.org.uk. At Holy Trinity a number of services will be broadcast online including their regular carols by candlelight service which has been recorded by the Church choir and will be available on Facebook on Sunday at 6.30pm: www.facebook.com/HolyTrinityChurchSC. Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church will broadcast a Christmas Eve Carols and Communion service at 11.30pm: https://www.scbc.org.uk/events Please have a look online for full details of all the events that will be taking place over the next week at your local church.
As part of the Commonwealth Games, the Triathlon will be held in Sutton Park at the end of July 2022. The swimming section will be held in Powell’s Pool, the run will take place through the park and the cycle through surrounding local roads. A public consultation is open until 4th January 2021 asking for views on the plans and the legacy of the event: https://www.birminghambeheard.org.uk/place/legacy-proposals-boldmere-gate/
This week, local Police and Crime Commissioner candidate Capt. Jay Singh-Sohal continued the fight to stop the closure of our Police Station in Sutton Coldfield by presenting a petition signed by 1,614 residents to the current Labour Police and Crime Commissioner. In Jay we have a candidate that will champion and fight for our local Police Station, at a time when crime is rising and our local tax precept is increasing too. Thank you to everyone who signed the petition.
A new hotline run by the Warmer Homes West Midlands programme has launched to help people get advice on how to increase their homes’ warmth while cutting down their fuel bills. Warmer Homes West Midlands is run by the charity Act on Energy and the hotline is free to call: 0808 196 8298
The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) has been in touch to provide an update on their activities this year, they have also put together a short film about their work which features our Town Hall towards the end of the video: https://vimeo.com/488570263
Thanks to National Lottery players, since January 2020 the National Lottery Community Fund has awarded £332,501 of National Lottery funding to 16 community projects in Sutton Coldfield. A further £176,262 has been awarded through the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed on behalf of the Government.
This year's Kellogg’s Breakfast Club Awards will recognise schools for the role they have played to educate and safeguard children throughout the pandemic. Kellogg started working with Magic Breakfast during the first lockdown and supplied over 200,000 boxes of cereal to support schools remaining open for the children of key workers. The aim of this year’s Kellogg’s Breakfast Club Awards is to recognise schools for the incredible role they have played to educate and safeguard children throughout this pandemic. There are 12 regional categories across the UK and winners will receive £1,000 for their club. The deadline is 15th January and local schools can enter here: https://bit.ly/38ozDNF
The National Grid has been in touch to highlight their industry leading graduate and apprenticeship schemes which are open to young people across Sutton Coldfield. National Grid owns and operates the electricity and gas transmission networks in England and Wales and are currently hiring for their Graduate, Student Placement and Apprenticeship programmes. More details are available here: https://ngrid.com/3n9HV1W
I would like to take the opportunity to send my best wishes to all my constituents throughout our Royal Town. My particular thanks go to our Emergency Services whose dedication ensures that we can all enjoy the festive season safely. Whatever you have planned for the holidays, I hope that your festive celebrations are happy and relaxing.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org