An additional 136 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week of 13th - 19th February compared to an updated figure of 130 for the week of 6th – 12th February based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.
The 7-day case rate between 13th - 19th February in Birmingham is now 165.9 cases/100K population, compared to an updated figure of 225.1/100K for the period between 6th – 12th February
Over the 7 days leading up to 19th February, of 20,640 PCR pillar 2 tests, 1,718 (8.3%) were positive, higher than the regional and national averages but lower than the week before.
Birmingham ranks 12th in the region for pillar 2 PCR tests, with 1,808 positive tests per 100k population. Over the 7 days leading up to 19th February 23,138 lateral flow tests were also carried out.
Hospital admissions have decreased again and range between 29 and 57 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 13th- 19th February.
The Joint Biosecurity Centre has agreed that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations. This is welcome news and shows that the efforts and sacrifice of the British public are helping to bring down the rate of infection. While cases and hospital admissions remain high it is vital we all remain vigilant and follow the rules as our historic vaccination rollout continues at pace. As the Prime Minister set out, we now have a clear plan to safely and cautiously reopen our economy.
Today I received my first Covid 19 jab at our Town Hall vaccine hub. It was great to be welcomed into the Town Hall by Richard Parkin, a community activist from Reddicap who is also volunteering at the Town Hall. It all went very smoothly and it is clear that a great deal of organisation has taken place behind the scenes to ensure that everything is easy and straightforward for those attending to receive their vaccine. I can confirm that it was all very quick and painless and I haven’t experienced any side effects.
Our Town Hall is the largest local vaccination site in Birmingham and Solihull and I believe that we have completed the most vaccinations of any local hub. The team has vaccinated over:
92% of the over 80s on their lists
94% of those ages 75-79
89% of those aged 70-74 and the clinically extremely vulnerable
85% of those aged 65-69
They are now working on younger age groups and those that have been deemed to be at risk.
The attached image shows an overview of our local uptake across different wards, based on the data that was available on Tuesday.
Royal Sutton Coldfield updates
Next Tuesday at 7pm I am hosting an online event with our West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council Simon Ward. The ‘Ask Andy’ event will give people in Sutton Coldfield the opportunity to ask the Mayor their questions and hear more about his work both locally and across our region. https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I-GWUt4QRVaaxHN0C9Eqgw
On Monday alongside Andy Street I attended a virtual meeting organised by BrumLAG, a local group which is campaigning on issues relating to the cladding scandal. It was a good opportunity to discuss some of the details with local leaseholders. This is an issue that has affected a number of my constituents and it is ongoing.
Yesterday the Government released the annual rough sleeping statistics which show that rough sleeping across the Birmingham City Council area has reduced by two thirds following the Government’s funding of the ‘Everyone In’ programme which was implemented last March. In Birmingham, rough sleeping, as measured on a single night, has reduced significantly with 17 people recorded as sleeping rough in the 2020 count, compared to 52 in the previous year and 91 in 2018. The figures show a 62% reduction in the number of people sleeping rough across the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area. As a result of ‘Everyone In’ last spring Birmingham City Council was able to accommodate all rough sleepers with a place in a Covid-19 secure, hostel or hotel. ‘Everyone-in’ was followed by the Next Steps Accommodation Programme, the Protect Programme, and the Cold Weather Fund, each helping people at risk of rough sleeping. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/rough-sleeper-numbers-plummet-two-19907183 It is very important that we build on this success and do not allow the figures to creep up as they did before.
The Government has provided funding to Birmingham City Council under the Additional Restriction Grants Scheme to support businesses that continue to be significantly impacted by the government restrictions, but who do not qualify for the Local Restrictions Support Grant Schemes. As part of this funding, a one -off payment of £1,000 will be provided for Birmingham taxi drivers, who continue to be significantly impacted by the restrictions. https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/covid-19-taxi-grant
Yesterday I attended the virtual launch of a new family drug and alcohol court for Birmingham and Solihull. The court offers support to keep families together and focuses on working with parents impacted by drug and alcohol abuse, mental health problems and domestic abuse with the aim of reducing the number of children being taken into care.
Tonight it is the AGM of the Royal Sutton Coldfield Conservative Association and I am looking forward to speaking to members during the event which will take place on Zoom.
Westminster news and Parliamentary business
Last weekend I joined Dame Margaret Hodge MP on Times Radio to discuss the merits of MPs working together on a cross party basis. We had an interesting discussion about current political events and our Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council got a mention too. The show can be listened back online (from about 15 minutes in) : https://www.thetimes.co.uk/radio/show/20210220-6780/2021-02-20
On Monday Dame Margret Hodge and I held a meeting of the Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax APPG. The meeting focused on the independent inquiry which is taking place into corruption in the British Virgin Islands. This was followed by a further meeting on Thursday to discuss the latest proposals for Companies House reform.
On Tuesday I had a virtual meeting with Lord Bird (the social entrepreneur who co-founded The Big Issue) about his work on the Well-being of Future Generations Bill. It was an interesting discussion and you can find out more about his Bill here: https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-19/wellbeingoffuturegenerations.html
This week I have continued to campaign against the proposed cuts to our international development budget. I met the Foreign Secretary to discuss some of my concerns in greater detail and I also raised the issue as part of the Opposition Day debate earlier this week: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2UBdxdrjUU
I am a supporter of my colleague Chris Loder’s Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill. The Bill seeks to increase the maximum custodial sentence for animal cruelty offences in England and Wales from six months to five years. With the suspension of sitting Fridays in the House of Commons a number of Private Member’s Bills are waiting for a date to proceed (including my Register of Births and Deaths Bill!) I have added my name to a letter that Chris has written to the Leader of the House, asking for either a carry over motion or a review of Parliamentary scheduling so that our Bill can continue.
Yesterday I attended an online meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Motor Neurone Disease (MND). MND is a fatal, rapidly progressing disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It kills a third of people within a year of diagnosis and more than half within two years. MND leaves people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk and eventually breathe. I know that this is a disease that has touched many families in Sutton Coldfield and it was good to have the opportunity to learn more about new research that is focused on finding new treatments for the disease.
The Government has announced that exam results this year will be awarded and determined by teachers, providing the fairest possible system for pupils so they can progress to the next stage of their education or career. This year, students will receive their GCSE and A-level grades from those who know them best – their teachers – who will be able to assess pupils through a combination of mock exams, coursework, and essays as well as the optional use of questions provided by exam boards. No algorithm will be used. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/teacher-assessed-grades-for-students
Opportunities and Events
The first-ever Made in UK Day will take place on 9th March. Make it British is a community of UK-made brands and manufacturers and the team has organised a celebration of products that are made in the UK. There are ideas for businesses and consumers on the Make it British website: https://makeitbritish.co.uk/madeinukday/?inf_contact_key=55809c029fec3b3ed12db649d0d664ab16358d5485884e2f31e6019a0d26c8b0
To mark International Women’s Day, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and the West Midlands Combined Authority will be hosting a virtual event on Friday 5 March between 5- 6.30pm. The event will celebrate inspirational women from the West Midlands and give them a platform to share their career journey to inspire other women. https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6759691247876777744
Small business owners in and around Birmingham & Solihull can connect with other local entrepreneurs during a free online networking event with our local Federation of Small Businesses team. It will take place on the morning of 4th March https://www.fsb.org.uk/event-calendar/birmingham-solihull-virtual-networking-4-march.html?aff=Twitter
National Citizen Service (NCS) is offering a bitesize version of their programme that is free and accessible to all young people. Following the success of their Staying Connected hub in 2020, the NCS team has launched NCS Connect; a new, improved online hub that gives teens of all ages an opportunity to engage with NCS in a simple, straightforward and relevant way. www.wearencs.com/connect
The University of Nottingham’s Prof Paul Crawford and Aardman Animation (Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep creators) have been working with young people on a project to support mental health. Based on research evidence, the project highlights ways to combat mental health issues and shares resources aimed at supporting children and teenagers: https://www.whatsupwitheveryone.com/
To help people better manage their home energy use and save money on bills, National Energy Action (NEA) and Smart Energy GB have teamed up to collate a list of simple things we can all do to reduce energy usage and save money: https://bit.ly/2KamIGO
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 email@example.com