17 November 2023
Weekly Message to Constituents 188 - Reshuffles and Remembrance
In the Constituency

Remembrance Day

Last Sunday, the Royal Town, along with the rest of the country, remembered the men and women in our armed forces who perished in defence of our freedoms, and those many people who have fought and suffered to protect us over the years.

I joined the Royal Town Mayor, Tony Briggs, Veterans, and other participants at the ceremony at the King Edwards Memorial after attending the Holy Trinity Parish Church service.  

Very many thanks to Adrian Harvey for so generously providing free parking at the Townhouse Hotel for those who attended the Remembrance service this weekend.

Above: After the service at Holy Trinity, the parade marched to King Edward’s Square and the laying of the Wreaths


Islamic Relief 

Last weekend, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and I had a meeting with the Chief Executive of Islamic Relief who are providing on-the-ground humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

Islamic Relief do much good work around the world in places of great difficulty. The charity is a proud local Birmingham beacon of hope.


Maney Hill School

I enjoyed visiting Maney Hill school and attending an assembly there where I spoke about the life and work of an MP and was asked many interesting questions on the work that I do for the Royal Town as well as internationally.

It is always a great pleasure to visit our excellent schools in Sutton Coldfield and to be held to account by the next generation!


Little Owl tuition

Last week I reported that Little Owl Tuition, a local family business with centres in Boldmere and Four Oaks, was named Birmingham’s Small Business of the Year. Today I visited their Boldmere branch.

Little Owl Tuition is designed to help local children achieve their potential and gain confidence in school, providing a unique learning opportunities for children who wish to take the 11 plus, as well as supporting those who need a little extra support with their school studies. Little Owl Tuition works solely with qualified teachers, allowing children to flourish and benefit from the small group setting.

I enjoyed dropping in today to congratulate them personally and take questions from their students such as what my favourite part of Sutton Coldfield is, my favourite part of my job, and how important it is to get our primary school kids in to local secondary schools. I was also asked about my love of dogs.

Above: Here with founder of Little Owl Tuition, Kate


The sale of Gracechurch Centre

You may have read the good news that the Gracechurch Centre has been sold, leading the way to a transformative new era for our Town Centre, making it better for existing and new retailers and residents. You can read more about it here:


I very much support these ambitious plans to make Royal Sutton Coldfield Town centre a dynamic, mixed-use neighbourhood incorporating residential, retail, leisure, hotel, and other uses, in line with our Masterplan.

It was great to meet with the new owners of the Gracechurch Centre today, SAV Group and BPG, following completion of their purchase last week. Whilst things are at an early stage, it is refreshing to see such energy, enthusiasm and drive to transform our Royal town centre.

Their plan seeks to reimagine the town centre in line with the masterplan we adopted in 2021. Consolidating and enhancing the retail offering, whilst bringing in new uses, including residential, will support the vibrancy and vitality of the Royal Town and leave a legacy for years to come. What is particularly encouraging is that our calls for engagement with the community are being taken seriously, and we have confidence that the scheme that comes forward will be one that we, as a town, believe is right. 

It is also encouraging to hear that there are plans for short term interventions to enhance the retail environment whilst the longer term vision is consulted on and established. We acknowledge that this is a complicated site, but we have every confidence that next year things will start to progress at an appropriate speed, and ultimately we will see a scheme that is deliverable and re-establishes the heart of our town. I will continue to work with the developers to ensure that the shared vision is delivered in a timely manner.

Above: Your MP and Simon Ward, leader of the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, hold a detailed meeting with the new owners of the Gracechurch Centre with their team of expert advisers.



This afternoon, I also paid an impromptu visit to Boldmere High street with delicious refreshments at the much loved Deli. I also visited Edge menswear who are raising money for Children in Need. Do drop by on Sunday when the Christmas lights will be switched on by the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town mayor Tony Briggs and collect from Edge your free socks!


My annual report

It is once again time for my annual report to be circulated around the Royal Town. Shortly, you can expect one of these through your front door where I hope you may be interested to read some of the key stories and highlights from my work in the past year. 


Home-Start Birmingham North West

Home-Start Birmingham North West, for which I am a patron, are looking for new trustees to join their board to ensure the effective running of their local charity.

Working in local communities since 1993, Home-Start Birmingham North West currently support families across Kingstanding, Oscott, Perry Barr, Sutton Four Oaks, Sutton Newhall, Sutton Vesey and Sutton Trinity. We offer locally trained volunteers to provide emotional and practical support to families in their own homes.

There is info about being a trustee here:


Anyone interested in becoming a trustee should contact: jackie@homestartbnw.org.uk


Cherished UK

A very big well done to Cherished UK, a Sutton Coldfield-based charity, who have just won the King’s Award for volunteer service. I look forward to dropping them a visit in the near future to congratulate them in person!

Cabinet reshuffle

I am sure many will have heard about the cabinet reshuffle this week and the return of our former Prime Minister (and my former boss!), David Cameron, to the government as our new Foreign Secretary after being appointed to the House of Lords.

As we know, constitutionally, the government can be made up of members of both houses of Parliament and this has happened in the past. I have great confidence in David Cameron and this reshuffle as we attempt to tackle difficult challenges internationally such as in the Middle East and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The Foreign Secretary will still be held to account in the House of Commons as I explained earlier this week and I will be deputizing for him in the House. He will however be held to account by the select committee and other mechanisms in the House of Commons.


Statement on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza

On Tuesday I gave a statement to the House of Commons on the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel.

Here is my statement:

‘With permission, Mr Speaker, I will begin by responding to your helpful statement yesterday.

The Foreign Secretary, the business managers and I all believe it is essential that this House properly scrutinises the work of the Foreign Office, especially as we face such a daunting set of challenges across the world. As Minister of State, I will follow the precedent set by successive Governments of different parties, from the days of Lord Home and Lord Carrington to more recent times when Lord Mandelson served in the Cabinet from the House of Lords. I will deputise for the Foreign Secretary in this House, making regular statements like today’s and respecting the primacy of this House in the normal way; and, of course, the Foreign Secretary will appear before the House of Lords and relevant Committees regularly.

The terrible events in Israel and Gaza have underlined the critical importance of British diplomacy and development work. As Israel battles to defeat Hamas, the humanitarian situation remains extremely difficult. As the Prime Minister said last night, Israel must respect international humanitarian law.

With services and communication in Gaza under unprecedented strain, it is difficult to be absolutely certain about how events are unfolding, but the reports we have had from partners make clear the appalling loss of life, including among children and aid workers, and the situation in hospitals in Gaza City, notably Al-Shifa, is now acute. Al-Shifa has hundreds of in-patients and was able to offer a set of services unavailable elsewhere in Gaza. Reports indicate that operations have stopped due to the lack of fuel and supplies, and that premature babies have died due to the lack of electricity. Fuel is urgently needed to power hospitals as well as desalinisation plants to ensure access to clean water. Hospitals should be places of safety, able to treat patients with compassion. It is distressing to see them unable to do so. Every civilian death is heartbreaking, and it is impossible to comprehend the pain and loss that innocent Palestinians are enduring.

As the House knows, since 7 October the Government have been engaging intensively with our close allies and partners in the region. Since my last update to the House, I have met—in Birmingham on Sunday—representatives of Islamic Relief, who still have humanitarian supplies in Gaza, to hear clearly from them about the situation on the ground, and this morning I spoke to Martin Griffiths, the head of the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. I will travel to the region overnight tonight. The new Foreign Secretary has discussed the situation with US Secretary of State Tony Blinken. The Government will be able to draw on his extensive regional experience in the weeks and months ahead.

Our goals remain unchanged. As I told the House last week, we are focused on getting life-saving aid to those in need in Gaza; supporting the safe return of hostages and British nationals; backing Israel’s right to self-defence; and preventing a dangerous regional escalation. Toggle showing location ofColumn 508Our efforts have contributed to some delivery of aid via the Rafah crossing and to over 150 British nationals being able to leave Gaza safely. Since I spoke to the House last week, more British nationals and their families have left, and we will continue to offer all the support we can to those British nationals still in Gaza, so that they too can cross into Egypt.

As the House knows, we have more than doubled our aid to civilians in Gaza, committing £30 million, and we stand ready to do more. For over a week, British flights carrying aid have been landing in Egypt, with shipments including life-saving items as well as the vital equipment that the Egyptian Red Crescent needs to be able to manage donations from across the world effectively. We are also urging the Israeli Government to increase humanitarian access, including through Rafah and by opening up the Kerem Shalom crossing. At this point we assess that land presently offers the most viable and safe way to get humanitarian aid into Gaza in the quantities needed, but we are also considering air and maritime options, including through our bases in Cyprus.

The Government have been clear that all parties to a conflict must afford civilians the protection that is their right under international law. That includes respecting the sanctity of hospitals, so that doctors can continue to care for the sick and injured. Events on 7 October and Hamas’s subsequent statements have made it clear that they are a terrorist group who pose an existential threat to the very idea of an Israeli state. Israel has a right to defend itself against this terrorist threat, to restore its security and to bring the hostages home, but there are things that Israel must do as part of its response. We have impressed this on the Israeli Government: they must act within international law; they must take every precaution to minimise civilian casualties, limiting attacks to military targets; and they must stop extremist settler violence in the west bank. At the same time, we should be under no illusions. Hamas have chosen to embed themselves within the civilian population, and their willingness to sacrifice innocent Palestinians in this way only brings home their inhumanity.

Alleviating the suffering is our foremost priority. We welcome any initiatives that would allow more aid to be delivered and hostages to be released. We have therefore consistently called for humanitarian pauses. Four-hour pauses in northern Gaza are an important first step, but longer pauses that cover wider areas will be needed. We are discussing with the UN and other partners how best to achieve this. We must avoid measures that serve only to benefit Hamas and allow them to entrench their position. At the same time, we need all parties to the conflict to abide by any pause, allowing sufficient time and security for civilians to move and for aid to be delivered.

Responding to the immediate crisis is critical, but we also need to do more to create a new political horizon. The whole House knows that only one answer has come close to creating peace in these troubled lands: a two-state solution.

I commend this statement to the House.’

You can watch the session here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/67d7b29b-c1b5-4f2d-9557-9cdfa148b2b0?in=12:33:11



Yesterday in Cairo I met Ramy ElNazer, CEO of Crescent, Reprenstatives from UNOCHA, and Egyptian UN representatives to hear how the UK can help more aid urgently reach Palestinian civilians.

Three UK flights have already landed in Egypt carrying over 51 tonnes of humanitarian aid.

You can read more about my trip and the important work we are doing to get aid in to Gaza here: UK Development Minister arrives in Egypt in push for more critical lifesaving aid for Gaza - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


Upcoming Global Food Security summit

Next week, the government will be holding the global food security summit, to find ways to tackle waste and pests – and to show that aid works.

You can read more about this here:

Joint statement from the Action Review Panel (ARP) on Child Wasting ahead of the Global Food Security Summit in London (unicef.org)

‘Stop this obscenity’: could key UK summit turn tide on world hunger? | Food security | The Guardian

Further Information

Upcoming Events


MHRC Locations

Please see below the visits scheduled for the week commencing 20th November 2023 of the BCC Mobile Household Recycling Centre.

·       Thu 23/11/2023, New Church Road B73 5RT, 07:00 - 12:30 Sutton Vesey



Your Town Hall requires donations to protect our heritage building for future use.

We are launching an APPEAL FOR £200k in order to continue to support Your Town Hall and protect it for the future community use, value and enjoyment. 


In this present situation of rising material prices, heating bills and social costs, why should YOU consider supporting your town hall? Because it is a precious historical building, an asset to the area, and the Trust needs support to keep it functioning. 

How to Support:

We are asking you to be as generous as you can, to enable the Town Hall to meet its present commitments. We are relying on your support. Every little helps ! 

Thank you! 

From all of the team at Sutton Coldfield Community Town Hall Trust and the trustees.

Donate with PayPal Giving Fund

You can read and subscribe to the Town Hall’s newsletter here: The Town Hall Presents: Summer is Here! (mailchi.mp)