Message from Andrew Mitchell

15th January 2021

Covid 19

An additional 533 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week 2nd- 8th January compared to an updated figure of 421 for the 26th December- 1st January based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.

The 7-day case rate between 2nd- 8th January in Birmingham is now 726.1 cases/100K population, compared to 500.8/100K for the period between 26th December- 1st January.

Over the 7 days leading up to 8th January, of 18,254 PCR pillar 2 tests, 5,225 (28.6%) were positive, higher than the regional and national averages.

Birmingham ranks 12th in the region for pillar 2 PCR tests, with 1,599 tests per 100k population. Over the 7 days leading up to 8th Jan, of 7,271 lateral flow tests were also carried out.

Hospital admissions have increased and range between 59 and 94 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 2nd January.

Vaccinations

There are currently 4 hospital hubs and 27 GP-led services across Birmingham and Solihull, with further sites due to open shortly. The first regional mass site for vaccination, Millennium Point in Birmingham, opened on Monday.

Royal Sutton Coldfield updates

However, of even more importance to us in the Royal Town, we currently have 3 vaccination sites serving Sutton Coldfield namely Falcon Lodge, Poplars Surgery and Good Hope Hospital and I am working hard together with Dr Rahul Dubb who is the local GP leading on vaccinations in the Royal Town to try to ensure that the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Hall is brought into operation as a key vaccination centre. To that end, I am enormously grateful to Adrian Harvey, the owner of the Town House (formerly the Royal Hotel) who has so generously agreed to make his enormous car park available for those coming for their vaccinations. While Falcon Lodge was chosen as a convenient vaccination centre firstly because it could be segregated wholly for that purpose and secondly because there are facilities there for dealing with the more complex Pfizer vaccine. Nevertheless, our Town Hall is a much better and more central location for most of my constituents.

I would like to congratulate Dr Rahul Dubb and all his colleagues who are doing such sterling work vaccinating Suttonians in the key groups. By tonight, all residents in Royal Town care homes and care workers working there should have been vaccinated and the vaccinations for those aged over 80 (a key priority group) are forging ahead. Dr Dubb informs me that at Falcon Lodge alone they have received 975 vials on Monday which equated to approximately 1000 vaccines as the spare amount left in each vial can be combined to vaccinate a few more patients. Due to their careful management they managed to vaccinate 1000 patients earlier in the week and a second batch of supplies arrived with another 975 vials and a further 300 for care home staff and social care workers. The team are working 7 days a week to administer vaccines and by the end of the week should have administered approximately 2300 jabs.

This morning I had a chat with the Principal and Chief Executive of Birmingham Metropolitan College Cliff Hall who is responsible for the Royal Sutton Coldfield campus about the challenges facing vocational students at this difficult time. The desire for them to take their exams has sadly had to be tempered by the impossibility of 500 students congregating in the middle of our town. I am pressing for alternative arrangements to be made as soon as it is possible to try and  mitigate in every way possible the difficulties that they have been facing.

I have received an update from our West Midlands Mayor Andy Street that the WMCA cycle scheme is progressing well. As I mentioned in a previous update, Sutton Coldfield is one of the first areas to benefit from the project with the initial batch of bikes due to be installed shortly. Thanks to the Mayor, the following locations are set to receive docking stations as part of the launch:

•           The Parade

•           Birmingham Road (adjacent to Driffold Gallery)

•           Stonehouse Road (Sutton Park)

•           Banners Gate (Sutton Park)

•           Wyndley Leisure Centre

•           Sutton Coldfield railway station

•           Four Oaks railway station

•           Rectory Road for Good Hope Hospital

Further details about the scheme can be found online: https://www.wmcyclehire.co.uk/

West Midlands Railway will begin an amended timetable on Monday to ensure that key workers can still travel during the current national lockdown. The timetable reflects the reduced number of passengers currently using trains as well as the increased number of railway staff unable to work due to shielding or self-isolating. For full timetable information visit: www.wmr.uk/timetables

Westminster news and Parliamentary business

Parliament returned this week and my key focus has been ensuring the rapid rollout of vaccines across the Royal Town. In that connection I have been in almost continuous contact with Matt Hancock the Health Secretary to ensure that our region, as well as the Royal Town, is supported in every possible way. I am particularly grateful to the Health Secretary for responding so positively and for his and his team’s help.

My equal top priority too has been supporting the business community throughout Sutton Coldfield which is suffering so grievously from the current restrictions. A rapid and effective vaccination programme will be the fastest way of returning to normality.

In addition, I spoke in the House of Commons on a range of issues including Britain’s place in the world, the importance of improving the evidence base for the debate on assisted dying, on the Government’s response to the situation in Xinjiang and on two clauses in the Financial Services Bill. I have uploaded brief videos of my contributions which you can watch on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh1dcjrq62DwcP5ztQMoLWg

My Doctors and Nurses (Developing Countries) Bill was due to be on the order paper for second reading today however a change to Parliamentary business means that this is no longer the case. My Bill has however been published and the text is available online: https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/2804.

A comprehensive review of building standards following the Grenfell fire has lead to significant costs for many leaseholders as they try to deal with remedial works. To help to ensure that leaseholders are not left with huge bills I have signed a number of amendments to the Fire Safety Bill which you can read more about here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0218/amend/firesafety_rm_ccla_0114.pdf

This week the APPG for Choice at the End of Life which I co-chair held a meeting with MPs and Peers during which we discussed the case of a senior NHS clinician who arranged to die at Dignitas before the second lockdown began. Shortly before she travelled to Switzerland, she recorded an interview where she spoke candidly about living with terminal breast cancer and the difficult decisions she took to end her life in another country, away from her family. We also heard directly from a woman whose son took his own life over the summer while living with terminal cancer. The APPG also held a meeting with a number of religious leaders to discuss some of the issues around assisted dying.

On Wednesday morning the Doctor’s Association UK held an event for MPs, Peers and their staff about the challenges facing doctors and frontline health workers and the association has provided a detailed briefing of some of the most pressing issues with contributors including Dr David Nicholl, a Consultant Neurologist working in Birmingham.

On Wednesday afternoon the charity Open Doors hosted the parliamentary launch of their World Watch list for 2021. The report details the latest trends and analysis of Christian persecution around the world. The full report is available to read here: https://media.opendoorsuk.org/document/pdf/WorldWatchListreport-2021.pdf

Opportunities and Events

On Monday the 8th of February I will be holding an online session for local businesses alongside the Department for International Trade as part of the Parliamentary Export Programme. The event will be focused on Free Trade Agreements and exporting after Brexit. If your business would benefit from export advice then please send me an email to register for the event: andrew.mitchell.mp@parliament.uk

Channel 4’s Production Training Scheme is now open for applications. The programme has long supported entry level talent and is particularly focused on those currently underrepresented in the TV industry. Ch4 are offering fourteen individuals the opportunity to work as a researcher, and one individual the chance to work as trainee script and development editor, all placed at independent production companies across the UK including in Birmingham where they are working with the independent production companies Full Fat and North One. To find out more visit: https://careers.channel4.com/4jobs

A good opportunity for any Year 12s thinking about their next steps; applications for the Sutton Trust UK Summer Schools are open now with further details available on their website: https://summerschools.suttontrust.com

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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