Message from Andrew Mitchell

26th March 2021

Covid 19 & Vaccinations

An additional 55 cases of Covid 19 have been registered in Sutton Coldfield for the week of 13-19 March compared to 40 for the week of 6-12 March based on data from Birmingham City Council’s public health division. Disappointing to see a rise but it is still the second lowest weekly figure this year.

The 7-day case rate between 13th- 19th March in Birmingham is now 70.2 cases/100K population, compared to an updated figure of 77.6/100K for the period between the 6th-12th March.

Over the 7 days leading up to 19th March, of 19,064 PCR pillar 2 tests, 730 (3.8%) in Birmingham were positive, higher than the regional and national averages but lower than last week.

Birmingham ranks 13th in the region for pillar 2 PCR tests, with 1,670 positive tests per 100k population. 112,490 lateral flow tests were also carried out.

Hospital admissions have decreased again and range between 12 and 22 new cases a day at University Hospitals Birmingham Trust over the 7 days from 13-19 March.

Tuesday marked a year since the first lockdown restrictions were introduced and alongside a national minute of silence and the beacon of remembrance event organised by Marie Curie, our Royal Sutton Coldfield Mayor Cllr Jane Mosson marked the day by wrapping a yellow ribbon around a Himalayan Birch tree planted by school children outside the Harvest Fields Centre.

The national rules preventing small gatherings of people outdoors will be relaxed on Monday as part of the Government's Roadmap. The rule of six will be reinstated, meaning up to six people or two households will be allowed to gather outside or in private gardens. Outdoor sport facilities, such as football pitches, tennis courts and outdoor gyms, will be allowed to reopen and formally organised sports can restart outdoors. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae&utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

The attached image shows an overview of vaccinations across different wards in Sutton Coldfield, based on the data that was available on Tuesday.  

Vaccinations 26 Mar

Royal Sutton Coldfield updates

On Monday I spoke to the Sutton Sisters group about international development and aid to Yemen in particular. On Tuesday I joined a University of Birmingham debate looking at the recent merger of FCO and DFID and the challenges for an integrated foreign and development policy.

The Commonwealth Games mascot has been revealed and I was delighted to bring Perry to the Royal Town- see attached photo! You can find out more about how Perry was created and even take your own photos with the mascot via the Birmingham 2022 website: https://www.birmingham2022.com/mascot/

Commonwealth Games Mascot - Perry

Earlier this week, our local PCC Candidate Jay Singh-Sohal gained the endorsement of the Home Secretary Priti Patel at the launch of his campaign to become our next Police and Crime Commissioner and stop the closure of our police station in Sutton Coldfield.

Asda is working with Dell to donate 7000 laptops to schools across the UK to tackle digital exclusion. Asda Minworth will be donating 10 laptop bundles to Minworth Junior and Infant School. Each tech bundle includes a headset and a mobile internet dongle with a data allowance of 20gb from Asda’s network partner Vodafone. Laptops will also include a one-year warranty and technical support.

Backed by Andy Street, the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) board has approved the WMCA’s first Five-Year Plan with investment of over £5million, helping to drastically cut emissions by retrofitting homes, expanding greenspace and creating thousands of new green jobs. https://www.wmca.org.uk/media/4744/wmca-five-year-plan.pdf

The West Midlands has been chosen to host an international summit on the UK’s net zero future in the build-up to the UN's climate change conference COP26 in November. Mayors and local leaders from across the country and Government Ministers will attend the Net Zero Leaders’ Summit on 13 July, either virtually or in Birmingham. The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is planning for the summit to be the start of a programme of events across the region leading up to COP26 and beyond that to the Commonwealth Games next year.

The WMCA has partnered with a community business charity to help community groups across the region take ownership of their local pubs. The WMCA will work with the Plunkett Foundation to help new and burgeoning community groups establish action plans, build capacity and raise the finance to take ownership of their much-loved local pubs. The investment forms part of the WMCA commitment to double the size of the social economy in ten years and will ensure that local groups are in a strong position to bid for a portion of the UK government’s £150 million Community Ownership Fund when it opens in June 2021.

I have been contacted by Justine Turner a University of Birmingham student and member of Young Minds Against County Lines who is helping to run a campaign to incorporate County Lines and grooming awareness into the local PSHE curriculum for years 5 and 6 in Birmingham City Council primary schools. Further details available on their website: https://www.youngmindsagainstcountylines.co.uk/

This week I have backed the Belfry’s official bid to host the Ryder Cup which would be a real boost for our local economy. I have also raised directly with Ministers in the Treasury a number of points on behalf of Birmingham Airport, particularly in relation to the possibility of duty free shops in Arrivals. These could provide a significant boost to help airports and airport based retail concessions which have been hit particularly hard over the past year.

 

Westminster news and Parliamentary business

While I am generally supportive of the Government’s roadmap I am concerned about the apparent lack of scrutiny on issues affecting our basic civil liberties and for that reason I declined to support the extension by six months of the powers in the Coronavirus Act during yesterday’s vote in the House of Commons.  

Government announcements over the last few days include:

  • A £56 million Welcome Back Fund to help boost local high streets and seaside towns with funds to help councils encourage tourism, improve green spaces and provide more outdoor seating areas, markets and food stall pop-ups. Birmingham City Council will receive £1,016,936 from the fund to help local high streets reopen and attract shoppers and tourists.
  • £54 million for innovative green projects across England, Wales and Northern Ireland – helping to secure nearly 10,000 jobs and saving 45 million tonnes of CO₂.

This week it was announced that train companies will continue to provide free train travel for those fleeing domestic abuse. Rail to Refuge is an initiative where train operators cover the cost of train tickets for adults and children escaping domestic abuse and travelling to refuge accommodation. The scheme was first introduced by Southeastern in 2019 and at the start of the pandemic last year, all train operators joined the scheme. Since then, operators have provided free tickets to over 1,348 people, including 362 children over the age of five.

The Government has published a review into reducing inequalities to improve babies' and children's healthy development in the first 1,001 days of life. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-publishes-review-to-improve-babies-and-childrens-healthy-development

The Home Secretary has announced a new plan for immigration which includes a public consultation on the proposals. You can find further details and the consultation portal on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/new-plan-for-immigration

On Wednesday I spoke to Jon Levett, CEO of the National Association of Funeral Directors to discuss the ongoing challenges facing the industry. Following a series of complaints about Newhall Cemetery I have also been in touch with Birmingham City Council again to highlight issues around the cemetery management, opening times and delays to funeral services.

 

Opportunities and Events

The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Midland Mencap are working together to find out how lockdown restrictions have affected disabled people’s ability to access exercise. As part of the ‘Include Me Citizens Network’ programme, they are appealing for anyone with a disability to get in touch to discuss their experiences – good or bad. To get involved, email: ashleigh.jones@midlandmencap.org.uk

The National Trust has launched a campaign to celebrate our beautiful blossom season. Japan’s spring blossom season is world-famous and inspired by Japanese Hanami celebrations, the National Trust is encouraging us all to take a moment outdoors to celebrate local blossom whether apple, blackthorn, hawthorn or cherry. #BlossomWatch is taking place from mid-March through to the end of April. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/features/blossom-watch

Dr Nihara Krause, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and founder of stem4, has authored two mental health booklets: one for parents /carers and one for teenagers. Each provides helpful information and practical advice on how to protect the mental health of young people during this difficult time. https://stem4.org.uk/resources/

South Staffs Water is encouraging the use of water meters. Their evidence suggests that the average person will save about £100 a year when switching to a meter. As well as being free of charge, the process to switch and install a meter is straightforward. Customers can revert back to an unmeasured charge within two years if they find they are paying more for their water than they were before they had a meter. www.south-staffs-water.co.uk/meter

The Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition launched on Monday. The £20 million competition is part of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and builds on the vision set out in the Clean Maritime Plan. It represents the single largest investment into maritime decarbonisation made by any government and will drive forward UK shipbuilding and the design and development of clean maritime technologies, supporting the sector’s transition to Net Zero by 2050. The competition will fund feasibility studies and technology trials in clean maritime technology. Scientists and academics are invited to collaborate with UK shipping operators, ports and shipbuilders to enter the competition. More information can be found at: https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/888/overview

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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