On Monday I officially opened our Town Hall as the main vaccine hub for Sutton Coldfield. I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to thank local staff in person for all their hard work and I have posted a couple of videos on YouTube from that morning: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh1dcjrq62DwcP5ztQMoLWg.
I have received many emails from constituents thanking everyone involved in the creation of the new Town Hall hub and I can report that the feedback has been entirely positive. Those attending the Town Hall can park free of charge thanks to the generous support of Adrian Harvey and the Town House (formerly the Royal Hotel). We are all extremely grateful to Adrian and to Birmingham City Council for waiving the charges for their pay and display carpark on Anchorage Road as well.
For our main hub the team are now booking people in their early 70s for their first jab alongside the clinically extremely vulnerable. The site is open 9 hours a day, 7 days a week and the inoculations are being delivered by a wide range of medically trained staff including retired doctors and nurses, paramedics and many others. Vaccinations are allocated according to NHS and Government guidelines and visitors will be contacted by telephone for their appointment. I am glad to report that as of tonight our local weekly total of jabs will have reached over 3,100 and the team will begin to look at the under 70s over the coming days.
Birmingham Community Healthcare Trust staff are undertaking home visits to vaccinate housebound patients who are not able to travel to a local centre, this is more logistically challenging and I am raising a number of cases locally to ensure that vulnerable patients receive their jab as a priority. If you know of anyone who is housebound or who has not been reached in the four vulnerable groups please do let me know so that we can ensure they receive their vaccination.
To all those involved both in running our Town Hall centre and those responsible for setting it up both locally and regionally I extend my grateful thanks on behalf of the Royal Town.
An additional 261 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week 23rd- 29th January compared an updated figure of 342 for the 16th- 22nd January based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.
The 7-day case rate between 23rd- 29th January in Birmingham is now 384.5 cases/100K population, compared to an updated figure of 602.0/100K for the period between 16th- 22nd January
Over the 7 days leading up to 29th January, of 24,638 PCR pillar 2 tests, 4,134 (16.8%) were positive, higher than the regional and national averages but lower than last week
Birmingham ranks 12th in the region for pillar 2 PCR tests, with 2,158 tests per 100k population. Over the 7 days leading up to 29th January 25,387 lateral flow tests were also carried out.
Hospital admissions have decreased again from last week and range between 73 and 105 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 23rd to 29th January.
The new UK variant accounted for nearly 79% of cases in Birmingham in the week to 21st of January and 76% nationally.
Extensive surveillance has identified a small number of cases of the Covid 19 variant first discovered in South Africa, in localities across England, including in the Frankley Great Park ward and a specific area of south Northfield area of Birmingham, which can’t be traced back directly to international travel. The council is working closely with Public Health England and the national NHS Track and Trace team to support measures to curb any potential spread of this variant; this will include significantly increasing the testing offer in a targeted and intelligence-led way.
Those over the age of 18, who are living or working in Frankley Great Park ward and part of south Northfield between Frankley and the A38, since 1 January, are encouraged to take a PCR test this week through one of the designated sites in the area, even if they are not showing symptoms.
Royal Sutton Coldfield updates
This week I spoke to Ben East, Chairman of FastAid Solihull & Birmingham Community First Responders. FastAid operates a team of Community First Responders providing life saving services, however the group is struggling to raise the funds needed to run and insure its response cars as well as the costs of maintaining vital life-saving equipment for their first responders. To find out more about FastAid or to support their work please see their website: http://www.fastaid.org.uk/home/donate-to-fastaid/
The Government has confirmed local elections will take place on 6 May, including for the delayed Police and Crime Commissioner role, and local Suttonian Capt. Jay Singh-Sohal is gearing up his campaign to stop the closure of Sutton Coldfield police station. This week, Jay spoke out about the current PCC’s increase to our local police precept tax, which is going up by £15. Jay will ensure we in the Royal Town get more for the precept we pay - alongside retaining our current police station, his plan includes more Police Officers and Special Constables to fight crime.
More than 10,000 young people have received mentoring on how to kickstart their careers or get back into work thanks to a flagship scheme led by our West Midlands Mayor Andy Street. The scheme is aimed at young people aged between 11 and 25. It started in June 2017 and to date a total of 10,697 young people have been mentored by volunteers – making it the biggest scheme of its kind in the country. Mentors will typically meet with a young person, either face to face or virtually, once or twice a month for an hour to discuss the young person’s studies and career opportunities. People who have been successful in their careers and who want to help young people just starting out, retraining or moving into new work, can make a difference by becoming a Mayor’s Mentor. www.wmca.org.uk/mayorsmentors/. I am extremely grateful to Andy Street, our West Midlands Mayor for this important initiative. I look forward to meeting him on one of his regular visits to the Royal Town next week as part of our work in the local community here in Sutton Coldfield.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published reports following focused inspections of Good Hope Hospital, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, part of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. The inspections were carried out on 2 and 9 December in response to concerns received about the potential risk to patient safety in medical care services at each hospital. Following the inspections, CQC requested further information seeking assurance about how the trust was mitigating risks to patient safety within medical care services. Inspectors reported their findings to the trust leadership. The trust’s overall rating of ‘Good’ remains in place.
Good news this week as Cadbury has announced that its Dairy Milk bar is going to be made almost wholly in Bournville again. It’s a welcome boost to our local economy at a difficult time. An investment of £15 million in new production line facilities will increase production capacity allowing this local facility to make an additional 125 million bars a year which would previously have been made at other locations across Europe. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/02/04/cadbury-brings-dairy-milk-back-bournville/
Westminster news and Parliamentary business
On Saturday I attended a virtual event with the InvestIN Young International Development Expert Programme. The scheme helps students aged 15-18 learn more about international development including humanitarian relief work and the importance of sustainable development initiatives. The programme brings experts from NGOs, aid charities and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office together so that students can learn more about the sector. It was good to speak to a group of young people with a real passion for international development. On the same theme, on Thursday I also spoke to the Evening Standard about my concerns about proposals to cut our foreign aid commitments. The development budget will already be cut substantially as a result of the fall in our GDP so to cut our aid contribution even further during a global health crisis is in my view entirely the wrong approach. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/londoners-diary/andrew-mitchell-foreign-aid-hugh-grant-golden-globes-chris-whitty-chilli-b918605.html
This week I have submitted a series of Written Parliamentary Questions including on the support in Sutton Coldfield offered to schools and nurseries during Covid 19, funding for local businesses in the Town and also on a number of environmental concerns including our local recycling rates and plastic pollution in our waterways.
Earlier in the week I met the Chancellor to discuss a number of spending priorities for us here in Sutton Coldfield ahead of the forthcoming Budget. I also attended a roundtable meeting on Universal Credit to look at the different options for the benefit after the current financial year ends.
Yesterday I attended the Remembering Srebrenica 2021 Theme Launch which is run from Birmingham. Each year Remembering Srebrenica selects a theme that reflects an aspect of the genocide. The theme for 2021 is ‘Rebuilding Lives’ which aims to honour the two million people who were displaced during the genocide in Bosnia in the 1990s, including the 10,000 Bosnians that came to the UK seeking refuge. http://www.srebrenica.org.uk/information/remembering-srebrenica-2021-theme-rebuilding-lives/
Opportunities and Events
While in-person tours of Parliament are still suspended, free 45-minute talks including a 360° virtual tour of the Palace of Westminster can now be booked online: https://ukparliament.seetickets.com/tour/guided-online-tour-of-the-palace-of-westminster
At the end of last week HS2 launched a new digital Jobs Board, bringing together all the opportunities to work directly on HS2 in one place. The board offers those looking for work or a change of career the opportunity to search the very latest vacancies with their construction partners and station contractors: https://www.hs2.org.uk/careers/careers-with-our-supply-chain/jobs
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