This is my 200th weekly message. Yes- 200th! I started it when our much-missed local newspaper The Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer closed, at least in part as a useful noticeboard for what is going on locally, as well as to keep my constituents informed about what their Member of Parliament is doing both here in the Royal Town and down in London at Westminster. I hope you continue to find it of use.
Safety in the Royal Town
While Sutton Coldfield remains one of the safest places in Britain, many of my constituents are horrified (as I am) by the decision of the police and crime commissioner to close our police station.
But there is some good news, as the appointment of a new Chief Constable in late 2022 seems to be having a positive impact locally. Craig Guildford has put more police officers into Sutton Coldfield Police Station and the stats speak for themselves - less crimes were committed in 2023 compared to the previous year.
I am grateful to Jay Singh-Sohal who was the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate and a constituent of mine, for his research. He is sharing his findings below to alert Suttonians to the need to save our police station from closure plan:
"We all know someone locally who's been robbed, attacked or worse and these numbers paint a stark picture about the lack of action by Labour PCCs over the past 12 years in tackling crime in Sutton Coldfield. But I'm encouraged by the proof that increasing resources into our police station is the best way to deal with criminality. Merging the PCC role with the West Midlands Mayor this year is essential if we are to keep our police station open and well resourced into the future. That's why I want to see Andy Street continuing as our Mayor with responsibility for policing."
Investment for youth centres in the Royal Town
I mentioned in my message last week that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) awarded Boldmere Falcons Junior FC nearly £4,000 for new floodlights at Boldmere Sports and Social Club.
This week I am so pleased to share the excellent news of even more investment into the Royal Town. As part of the Government’s latest round of the Youth Investment Fund, the 2nd Sutton Coldfield (1st Wylde Green) Scouts Group and the 1st Bannersgate Scout Group (33rd Sutton Coldfield) have been awarded £50,000 each to go towards renovating and refurbishing their facilities so that they can support more young people.
Youth centres play a key role in creating more opportunities for young people to gain the skills needed to succeed in life, in addition to engaging young people most in need. The West Midlands as a whole will benefit from £1,952,354.00 in funding from the Government’s long-term investment in youth centres across the country.
I look forward to visiting these two brilliant scout groups in the near future.
Our City Councillors defending our libraries and youth centres
As I mentioned in my message last week, three of our four libraries in Sutton Coldfield – in Boldmere, Mere Green, Walmley and the Town Centre – are at risk of closure because of Birmingham City Council’s disastrous financial situation.
Your hardworking Conservative councillors on Birmingham City Council - strongly supported by the Conservatives on Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council - are standing up for our local libraries and protesting these preposterous suggestions.
I will be raising the matter next Friday with Birmingham chief commissioner, who has been put in by the government to sort out the mess that Labour has made of Birmingham City Council.
Here are Councillor Ken Woods views on this matter:
‘Libraries across the whole City are under threat of closure as a result of City Councils administration abysmal handling of its finances.
Here in the Royal Town libraries in Boldmere, Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield and Walmley are all at risk. Under publicised plans Sutton Coldfield would be left with a single library - forcing residents to drive and travel distance to whichever location is deemed appropriate.
City Councillors Cllrs Ken Wood and David Barrie launched a petition to preserve library services in Walmley and such has been the level of support that Cllr David Barrie submitted the petition, with nearly 1000 names on it, at the meeting of Birmingham’s full council meeting on Tuesday 6th February.
Cuts to services and increases in Council tax are going to affect everyone and it’s purely down to Labour’s mismanagement and handling of problems they created but have failed to tackle for many years and I know that the hard-working City Councillors we have in the Royal Town will continue to fight in any way they can to preserve those services that are vital to our residents’.
- Cllr Ken Wood, Walmley & Minworth
And here are Cllr David Pears views on the effect of Birmingham City Council’s financial woes on Trinity and our Town Centre:
‘Residents will be aware of the financial woes of Birmingham Council, but I thought readers would be interested to know how this is affecting Trinity Ward and our Town Centre.
Libraries are under threat of closure and leaked reports have suggested this may be one per constituency. Following a meeting with members of FOLIO (friends of Sutton Library) recently, I am working to keep our library open, and for a future provision in our Town centre.
The library lavatory facilities have been left out of order for a long time, after local officers had been struggling to get the lavatories fixed, last month I asked the leader in the Council meeting question time, if he could help. No action had been taken, so on Tuesday this week I reminded Councillor John Cotton, Labour leader again, and was promised a response! I could not help but feel sorry for all those disabled and other users who had no library lavatory facility, through Labour neglect! Thanks to my intervention, as of lunchtime today, the lavatory has now been repaired.
I have started a petition as we need to say ‘No’ to the potential Library closure. See petition link: Save Sutton Library Petition | Royal Sutton Coldfield (suttoncoldfieldconservatives.com)
The Youth service budget is also under review; again, I do not want to see the closure of our long-established youth centre at Clifton Road after April or May. Again, I am working here to retain the Centre. See petition link: Protect Clifton Road Youth Centre | Royal Sutton Coldfield (suttoncoldfieldconservatives.com)
Over the coming weeks we are expecting to be told which assets will be sold in our Town to help pay for Birmingham City Council’s financial crisis, created in equal pay and overspending on the Oracle computer programme. I will be sharing more information in Trinity as it becomes available.
In the meantime, I hope everyone will sign the petitions via the links so we can tell Birmingham what we think in Sutton Coldfield about the effects of the appalling financial management’.
- Councillor David Pears
Local Roads Resurfacing Funding
I very often receive emails from Royal Town residents regarding the poor state that some of our roads are in, and since this falls under the jurisdiction of Birmingham City Council, I am in constant contact with them on behalf of my constituents.
I am glad to hear that the Government is providing an additional £8.3 billion of extra roads resurfacing funding for English local highway authorities between 2023/24 to 2033/34, to transform the condition of local roads, allowing all road users smoother, faster, and safer trips - paid for with savings delivered by the Prime Minister’s decision to cancel HS2 Phase 2.
The West Midlands, include Sutton Coldfield, will see an additional funding allocation in this 10 year time period of £151 million, but the additional funding allocation for the next year is £2.5 million on top of the £3.6 million that was announced in the spring budget last year.
I am glad that the government has required local authorities like Birmingham City Council to be transparent with this whopping amount of money, as they will be required to publish summaries of resurfacing work carried out with this new funding and produce quarterly reports.
I will also raise this in my meetings with BCC leadership and ensure that the Royal Town and my constituents are benefiting in FULL from this funding uplift from central government.
Local Government Finance Settlement
There is more good news to share with regards to increased government funding for our Royal Town.
Birmingham City Council will receive £94.2m in extra funding next year as part of the Conservative Government’s £64.7 billion Local Government Finance Settlement, and West Midlands Fire will receive £6.4m in extra funding next year.
The Government is sticking to the plan, continuing to drive down inflation and ensuring local authorities in England have the long-term funding they need through an increase in their Core Spending Power of up to £4.5 billion and additional measures worth £600 million this year. The settlement includes £1.5 billion of additional funding for adult social care and additional support for rural authorities.
This increase in funding for councils will enable councils to provide vital services for residents while helping them to manage their finances for the long-term, securing a brighter future for taxpayers.
With all of the funding and support provided by central government, Birmingham City Council should look to ease the financial pressures on residents as much as they can rather than burden them with council tax rises. This will require very tough decisions by Birmingham to address the terrible damage that has been done by their financial incompetence.
Andy Street in Reddicap
Our superb Mayor Andy Street stopped by the Royal Town last week for a visit to Sutton Reddicap to deliver his new West Midlands Progress magazine and his and my survey. During his visit he saw the brand-new facilities at Sutton United Football Club before joining our brilliant local councillors and volunteers for a campaign day delivering his magazine.
Thankfully the weather held up and he, alongside our fantastic local team, managed to get thousands of magazines delivered to residents across Reddicap.
Next weekend I shall be out and about with a huge team of local councillors and activists delivering Andy’s and my survey in Vesey ward.
Westminster Supper Club
The much-missed Westminster Supper Club - a Royal Town Conservative dining club - is back in action having been a casualty of the COVID pandemic.
Our speaker for this comeback is Peter Shergold, a local author who will be sure to provide us with a phenomenally entertaining talk about the Home Guard protecting our Royal Town during the Second World War (who were arguably the inspiration for Dads Army!)
Please do join us at 7pm on Friday 1st March for a wonderful two course dinner and fantastic evening with local Conservative friends, supporters and neighbours.
Tickets will be reserved on a ‘first come first serve’ basis so if you would like to secure yours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Last weekend I was in Ethiopia where the very destructive war has caused such trouble and misery to people’s lives. The deeply worrying humanitarian crisis continues to unfold, the number of critically food insecure people grows rapidly and will reach 10.8 million in the coming months.
the UK is taking positive action which will save lives on the ground, its efforts alone will not be sufficient to contain the crisis, and that urgent cooperation with international partners and agencies and government will be necessary to prevent the worst.
You can read more about my visit here:
National apprenticeship week
Last Monday marked the start of National Apprenticeship Week. Since 2010, this government has created a world-class apprenticeship system from the ground up and delivered 5.7 million apprenticeships across the country. Apprenticeship schemes open up new opportunities and career pathways and play a critical role in the Royal Town’s local economy.
So, this week I would like to congratulate all 530 of my constituents who started an apprenticeship last year from one of the nearly 700 training courses available.
In 2010, had you said that you could become a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or an accountant through an apprenticeship, no one would have believed you.
Fast forward 14 years, working with over 5,000 businesses, this Government has made this a reality!
Third Cost of Living payment
This week, Millions of households across the UK will start to receive a third Cost of Living Payment until 22 February as part of the Government’s £104 billion Cost of Living support package.
The payment will be sent out automatically and recipients do not need to apply to receive it. This includes tax credits-only customers who will receive the payment from HMRC between 16 and 22 February.
If a household becomes retrospectively entitled to a Cost of Living Payment, or believe they are entitled but do not receive one, they can report this via gov.uk from the 23 February.
Further Cost of Living support is available through Councils in England thanks to DWP’s £842million extension to the Household Support Fund, currently ending in March this year.
M42 and M6 closure warning ahead of major HS2 works
The M42 between junction 6 and 9 will be temporarily closed in both directions:
• Overnight on week nights from 10pm – 5am between Monday 29 January 24 – Friday 9 February 24.
• For a full weekend from 9pm on Friday 9 February 24 until 5am on Monday 12 February 24.
Should you require more information about this closure please contact National Highways Customer Contact Centre on:
0300 123 5000 (local call rate), Or email: email@example.com
MMR immunisation and measles awareness
Measles is circulating in the West Midlands, and the MMR vaccination provides the best protection against measles.
Please be aware of measles symptoms: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/measles/
If you think you or your child may have measles, contact your GP practice but do not visit unless instructed, as measles can spread to others easily, and 1 in 15 children can develop serious complications, such as meningitis and blindness.
For protection against measles, contact your GP practice to get your MMR immunisations.
Learn more: https://bit.ly/46QPPn1
Mobile Household Recycling Centre Locations
Please see below the visits scheduled for the week commencing 12th February of the BCC Mobile Household Recycling Centre.
- Wed 14/02/2024, Stonehouse Road B73 6LJ, 07:00 - 12:30, Sutton Vesey