My Annual Report has been published and will be delivered to all households across the Royal Town over the next few days. It provides an update of some of my work over the past year and has been printed and sent at no cost to the taxpayer.
Covid 19 & Vaccinations
An additional 95 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week of 20-26 February compared to an updated figure of 138 for the week of 13th - 19th February based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.
The 7-day case rate between 20-26 February in Birmingham is now 123.3 cases/100K population, compared to an updated figure of 176.3/100K for the period between 13th - 19th February
Over the 7 days leading up to 26th February, of 19,849 PCR pillar 2 tests, 1,355 (6.8%) were positive, higher than the regional and national averages but lower than the week before.
Birmingham ranks 13th in the region for pillar 2 PCR tests, with 1,738 positive tests per 100k population. Over the 7 days leading up to 26th Feb, of 37,062 lateral flow tests were also carried out.
Hospital admissions have decreased again and range between 24 and 56 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 20-26 February.
The attached image shows an overview of vaccinations across different wards in Sutton Coldfield, based on the data that was available on Tuesday. Anyone over the age of 60 can book an appointment for a vaccination online: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ or by calling 119.
Royal Sutton Coldfield updates
On Tuesday I hosted an online event with our West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council Simon Ward. The ‘Ask Andy’ event gave people in Sutton Coldfield the opportunity to ask the Mayor questions and we had an interesting discussion about his plans for our region.
Andy has launched his Mayoral Jobs Plan which sets out an ambitious target to create 100,000 jobs over the next two years to replace those lost as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The plan is available on his website: https://www.andystreet.org.uk/sites/www.andystreet.org.uk/files/2021-03/Mayoral%20Jobs%20Plan.pdf
Earlier this week I spoke to the team at IM Properties to discuss the Peddimore development. A number of concerns have been raised about three planning applications that are currently in the system relating to the site and I know that there are local concerns about the site logistics, traffic movements and the economic benefits of the development more widely for our local area. We had a useful discussion about the importance of ensuring the site creates skilled jobs and I emphasised the importance of minimising local disruption. I also highlighted traffic concerns that have been raised by residents in Minworth and the importance of the local community particularly in Walmley and Minworth benefiting from the development that will be taking place.
Yesterday afternoon I caught up with local Suttonian Jay Singh-Sohal to discuss his plans for Policing as part of his campaign to be the next Police and Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands. As well as promising to save our local police station and increase the number of Special Constables, Jay has also focused on a number of issues that are important locally including the rise in the number of street racing incidents across the Royal Town.
Yesterday I also visited Twycross Zoo – a wonderful local facility for Sutton Coldfield which acts as an educational resource for our schools and does extraordinary work on animal conservation – very different from the mixed reputation that zoos had in the past. The zoo hopes to open as things stand on April 12th. The sector has been hit hard over the past year and it was useful to have a discussion about the additional support required over the coming months. While the Zoo remains closed there are a number of activities on their website and ways to support their work. https://twycrosszoo.org/
Earlier today I spoke to Derrick Campbell, Regional Director for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in the Midlands to discuss the role of the IOPC and the changes being made to the police complaints system more broadly.
This afternoon I spoke to a group of students from the University of Birmingham that are studying as part of a degree apprenticeship programme. The session formed part of a Leadership in Public Services module of the MSc/DA in Public Management and Leadership- an extremely interesting and well organised programme.
Local GP and Sutton Coldfield resident Dr Gibu Koshy has put together a song to support the NHS in these difficult times and to raise money for the mental health charity MIND. The song is on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6Xpo8VSRzA and his fundraising page is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dr-gibu-koshy-nhs-a-sacrifice
Midlands Connect, our region’s sub-national transport body, has allocated capital to part-fund a business case examining potential improvements to the A38 Kingsbury Road Corridor. The money will contribute to the creation of an Outline Business Case for the scheme with an aim to secure Government funding to bring about much needed improvements.
The Government has provided Birmingham City Council with approximately £4.5 million as part of the second tranche of funding from the Department for Transport's Active Travel Fund. The Active Travel Fund supports the improvement of cycling and walking provision and safety in towns and cities. Local residents have been invited to have their say via Commonplace: https://covidmeasuresbirmingham.commonplace.is Formal consultation on the proposals will take place later this year after lockdown restrictions have eased.
Sutton Coldfield residents in receipt of Council Tax Support will receive a £275 discount on their 2021/ 2022 council tax bill. https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/news/article/819/council_tax_hardship_scheme_will_provide_275_discount_to_61000_households_across_birmingham?utm_campaign=Orlo&utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=
Westminster news and Parliamentary business
This week the Chancellor outlined his Budget. There were a number of significant announcements including:
• Extending furlough until the end of September
• Two further grants for the self-employed, which will also be eligible for 19/20 starters
• New Recovery Loans and Restart grants of up to £18,000 to help our retail, hospitality, leisure and personal care businesses
• Business rates holiday extended for 3 months, before tapering for another 9 months
• Extending the VAT cut to 5 per cent for a further six months, before tapering for another six months
• Continuing our stamp duty cut for another three months, before tapering for another three months
• A continuation of the Universal Credit uplift for a further six months
• More money for apprenticeships and traineeships
• £700 million for arts, culture and sports
• A new 95 per cent mortgage guarantee for prospective homebuyers
• Asking the largest, most profitable firms to pay more in two years’ time by increasing corporation tax to 25 per cent (still leaving us as the lowest in the G7, and the fifth lowest in the G20)
• A Super Deduction on capital investment for companies – a £25 billion tax cut
• Maintaining personal tax allowances at their current levels from April 2023 until 2026
• Keeping inheritance, capital gains and pensions lifetime allowances & the VAT threshold at current levels
• Keeping our manifesto pledge with no increases to income tax, NICs or VAT
• Freezing alcohol duty and fuel duty
• Launching the first ever UK Infrastructure Bank to invest in public and private projects to drive green growth and create green jobs.
Almost all these issues were pressed for by Andy Street our regional Mayor. It shows how very effective Andy Street is at lobbying Government successfully to the benefit of the Royal Town.
I spoke in the Budget debate on Wednesday and have posted a clip on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUbuNoDwP1I
The weddings sector and wider supply chains for the industry have had an incredibly difficult year and I have signed a cross-party letter asking for sector specific support to see the wedding industry through to the summer: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LsPxRv__O07yPXY5ASqyvc9qfrmyccCw/view.
I remain deeply concerned about cuts to our international development budget and following an announcement that our aid to Yemen will be cut in half, I raised an Urgent Question in the House of Commons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwUBJ26LVF8
I also wrote an article for Politics Home outlining my view in a little more detail: https://www.politicshome.com/thehouse/article/andrew-mitchell-yemen-aid-cut.
This week I hosted the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on War Crimes which will specifically look into matters relating to the presence of alleged Rwandan war criminals in the UK and the prosecution of those who participated in the Rwandan genocide.
Opportunities and Events
West Midlands tech start-ups can apply for one of 10 places on a business accelerator programme. Not-for-profit tech hub and think tank, Birmingham Tech, has partnered with Andy Street and the West Midlands Combined Authority to create ScaleUp Accelerator to help local businesses with high-growth potential. Organisations interested in the Accelerator can apply via: https://birmingham.tech/scaleup-programme/ applications close on the 12th March.
With just over 500 days until the start of the Commonwealth Games, the official procurement process to find catering suppliers of all sizes has opened. There are five separate opportunities to tender for catering services. Interested businesses can apply via the Birmingham 2022 Business portal: www.birmingham2022.com
The National Lottery Climate Action Fund has opened for its second round of applications. In this round it will focus on supporting projects addressing waste and sustainable consumption and schemes which demonstrate the ways in which communities can work together to lower carbon emissions. https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes/climate-action-fund-round-2
A free tool has been created by IAB UK, the trade body for the digital advertising industry, to help local businesses get greater value out of digital advertising: https://www.iabuk.com/poweringup/tool
This week is the UK’s first ever Food Waste Action Week. There are lots of ideas on the Love Food Hate Waste website: https://lovefoodhatewaste.com/what-to-do
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