Covid 19 & Vaccinations
An additional 40 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week of 6-12 March compared to an updated figure of 72 for the week of 27 February- 5 March based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division.
The 7-day case rate between 6th- 12th March in Birmingham is now 75.7 cases/100K population, compared to 88.5/100K for the period between the 27 February- 5 March.
Over the 7 days leading up to 12th March, of 19,074 PCR pillar 2 tests, 783 (4.1%) in Birmingham 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 1,670 positive tests per 100k population. 122,653 lateral flow tests were also carried out.
Hospital admissions have decreased again and range between 15 and 23 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 6-12 March.
The attached image shows an overview of vaccinations across different wards in Sutton Coldfield, based on the data that was available on Tuesday. By the end of the week approximately 26 million people across the UK will have received their first dose and 2 million their second dose.
Royal Sutton Coldfield updates
Yesterday I visited Arthur Terry school to discuss Covid 19 testing in educational settings and the measures that have been put in place to protect pupils and staff. I have uploaded a short video on my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPofaMtpUn4 Thank you to Mr Gannon and the team for having me along.
This week I filmed a video with our Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate Jay Singh-Sohal, who is campaigning to stop the closure of Sutton’s police station, an issue which I know many feel strongly about across our Royal Town. I have received a number of emails about the 9.2% rise in the PCC precept in Council Tax bills, a result of the 8th consecutive maximum increase by the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner. Jay is committed to ensuring Suttonians see the benefit of our police tax revenue in the Royal Town by keeping our police station open and having more officers in it.
Today is Red Nose Day and the KFC Foundation and Comic Relief have partnered together on a number of projects. The Sutton Coldfield YCMA will receive £199,185 from the Foundation in the coming years. This funding will allow the YMCA to develop its ‘The Release’ young carer's project, providing targeted support to 216 young carers aged 14-18 years in Sutton Coldfield and across Birmingham. Support will include one-to-one life coaching that will be tailored to meet young carers’ needs. The project will also work with 27 schools to raise awareness of the needs of young carers.
The Government has awarded £756,000 to Birmingham City Council to continue our local Supported Housing oversight pilot which aims to improve quality and value for money in supported housing.
The Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce first quarterly business report of 2021 shows signs of optimism after the Prime Minister’s Roadmap to Recovery was announced. https://www.greaterbirminghamchambers.com/latest-news/news/2021/3/18/indomitable-spirit-lifting-region-out-of-crisis-chamber/
The Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund provides funding to local councils to provide improvements to cycling and walking routes and to help reduce air pollution. Birmingham City Council is currently seeking views on a number of proposals including in Sutton Coldfield and the A47 Cycle Link to Walmley. Comments can be submitted online: https://covidmeasuresbirmingham.commonplace.is/overview
Over the next six years, the BBC will shift its creative and journalistic centre away from London. In plans which were announced yesterday, Newsbeat and the BBC Asian Network will move to Birmingham on a permanent basis. The BBC News Data Team will also partly relocate to Birmingham. At least one new primetime drama and one new primetime entertainment series will be commissioned in Birmingham and the West Midlands. The BBC will build on current TV production in Birmingham as well as focusing on opportunities for young people. BBC Three will launch a new documentary scheme for producers to tell original stories from the Midlands and an apprentice training agency will also be piloted in our region. Really positive news for our local media and journalism sector.
Severn Trent has announced plans to help the Commonwealth Games deliver its first ever carbon-neutral event. Two of the Commonwealth Games’ key initiatives include the creation of 2022 acres of forest, as well as 72 tennis-court-sized mini forests, to be built in urban areas across the West Midlands. The 2022 acres of forest will feature native species to help offset the carbon generated by the Games. Severn Trent has also committed to planting 1.3 million new trees and enhancing 5000 hectares of biodiversity as part of its Great Big Nature Boost initiative.
Earlier in the week West Midlands Mayor Andy Street hosted a roundtable with local companies to discuss the role of businesses in helping our region achieve its net zero ambitions. A range of key businesses including Birmingham Airport, BT, DPD, Severn Trent and National Express laid out their plans to decarbonise their businesses and discussed the WMCA’s own net zero target of 2041.
Good news this week that the West Midlands Combined authority and property developer St. Modwen have announced further regeneration plans for the former MG Rover car plant in Longbridge. The land will be cleaned and essential infrastructure provided with plans to construct 350 new homes and 900,000sqft of commercial floorspace which will create up to 5,000 jobs. The plans have been supported by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and are another example of his focus on the ways in which we can improve the West Midlands by regenerating brownfield sites to provide new housing and jobs. St. Modwen has already overseen the regeneration of around half the wider Longbridge works but the West Works site has remained undeveloped. Once finished, the £1bn transformation of the entire former car plant is expected to have created up to 4,000 new homes. https://www.expressandstar.com/news/environment/2021/03/15/part-of-iconic-longbridge-plant-to-be-transformed-into-hundreds-of-homes-and-employment-space/
Westminster news and Parliamentary business
On Tuesday the Prime Minister published the Integrated Review, the largest ever review of our defence and foreign policy. Much is to be welcomed including additional spending on our defence capabilities, new investment for research and development, and a focus on driving regional economic growth. I do, however, remain concerned about our support for international development programmes and I raised this in the Commons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mg4Ds1udNk
My incoming correspondence is still close to double the level that I received before Covid 19 and as a result it is taking me slightly longer to reply to emails. A number of people have been in touch with me about the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021 and I thought it might be helpful to briefly address concerns about the Bill in my weekly update.
Draft legislation goes through a number of stages in the House of Commons and the House of Lords before it becomes law. I voted in favour of the bill this week not because I believe that the bill is in a perfect state, but because I believe that we do need to pass legislation on policing and sentencing. To vote against the bill at such an early stage would scrap it in its entirety which I do not believe is the right approach. The legislation has some perfectly good aspects including increasing sentences for child murderers and sex offenders. In this country we have a long-standing tradition that people can gather together and demonstrate, and the right to protest peacefully is a fundamental part of our democracy. I know that some people have concerns about clauses relating to the right to protest. The wording will be considered carefully in Committee Stage, where each clause and any amendments will be debated in detail. The House of Lords will also have full scrutiny of the wording at a later stage. In light of recent events I am looking carefully at whether the bill should be amended when we reach later stages. If you have views about amending the wording to improve it, please do let me know.
Government announcements this week include a doubling in the size of the Safer Streets fund, which provides funding for local neighbourhood measures such as better lighting and CCTV https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-moves-to-provide-reassurance-to-women-and-girls-15-march-2021 and a consultation on wide-ranging reforms to modernise the country’s audit and corporate governance regime https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/restoring-trust-in-audit-and-corporate-governance-proposals-on-reforms
The situation in Burma continues to be hugely concerning and the Times published a cross party letter that I signed earlier this week, highlighting the importance of robust, targeted sanctions against military enterprises https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/times-letters-violence-against-women-in-television-drama-0ps8hk6dm
The Census is taking place this year and Census Day is on Sunday. It’s vital that everyone takes part. The census is run by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which is the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics. The information provided in the census helps to inform decisions on how to plan and fund local services including transport, education and healthcare. It will also provide vital information for future decisions made by Parliament. Census 2021 is the first digital-first census. Households should have received a letter in the post with an access code to log into the Census website. Support, including paper questionnaires, will be available to those who need it and anyone experiencing difficulties can ring: 0800 141 2021.
Opportunities and Events
The Birmingham Post Business Awards are now open for nominations. The awards will celebrate the achievements of a host of different businesses operating in a diverse range of sectors. The closing date for nominations is 19th April. www.bpbusinessawards.co.uk
The 2020/21 Film the House competition is now open for submissions. The scheme is open to UK based student or independent filmmakers. Entries are shared with MPs and an expert industry panel of leading figures from across Britain’s creative industries. https://filmthehouse.co.uk/competition-details/how-to-enter
Earlier this week the British Council’s Five Films For Freedom, the worlds widest-reaching digital celebration of LGBTQ+ films went live. The films are available to watch, for free, online all around the world until the 28 March: https://film.britishcouncil.org/about/work/fivefilmsforfreedom
Sunday is World Down Syndrome Day and the whole of this week is Down’s Syndrome awareness week. The Down’s Syndrome Association has a some brilliant information on their website including emotional well-being resources: https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/for-families-and-carers/emotional-well-being-resources/
The World Literacy Foundation is currently recruiting young people aged 16+ to be part of their Literacy Ambassador program for 2021. Their free global program trains individuals to become leaders in their community and advocate for literacy as a human right. At the end of the program, participants have the option to organise a fundraising event to support the education of disadvantaged children. https://worldliteracyfoundation.org/ambassador/
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