16 February 2024
Weekly Message to Constituents 201 - Pride in Sutton; failure in Birmingham
In the Constituency

Privileged to meet a true local hero

I was both honoured and humbled today to meet Harold Jones, a remarkable centenarian from Royal Sutton Coldfield who, after being inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore, has raised £46,000 for Motor Neurone Disease by taking daily walks in his garden.

I had the privilege of presenting Harold, who is 100½ years old (he insists the ½is very important), with a ‘Points of Light’ award on behalf of the Prime Minister, when I met him at St Columba’s Church in Banners gate.

Harold, who like Captain Sir Tom served in the Army in India and Burma during World War Two, completes the laps aided by his late wife's mobility apparatus, having broken his back in a fall in 2016.

He chose to support the Motor Neurone Disease Association after losing three friends to this terrible disease, and hopes the money he raises will help sufferers, support their loved ones, research the cause of the illness, fund treatment and ultimately find a cure.

In my work as Sutton Coldfield’s Member of Parliament I am lucky to spend time with many remarkable people, but Harold stands out as one of the most impressive Suttonians I have ever met. He is a true local hero.

He told me: “I have always believed in public service, and doing what you can to help others. These days I don’t drive, so I can’t offer people lifts like I use to, but this is one way that I can still help others.

“But to be honest, I find it embarrassing when people pay me compliments about what I’ve done because I’m just an ordinary fellow doing an ordinary thing as far as I’m concerned!”

When Harold first began his daily fundraising efforts, he believed reaching £1000would be a real achievement – now his target is £50,000. Having met him, I’ve no doubt he will do it.

If you would like to donate to Harold’s appeal, visit https://bit.ly/3E1Byp5



On the Breadline Bakery - A little known local jewel  

I made a visit this morning to ‘On the Breadline’ bakery in Worcester Lane - a bakery started by Sebastian some six years ago. I last visited during COVID to support this fantastic local business which was obviously suffering at that time but which is now doing brilliantly. 

A steady stream of customers were coming and going and I also purchased some delicious freshly baked bread and homemade brownies. 



Meeting with Birmingham City Council Commissioner

This morning, I went to meet the Commissioner Max Caller CBE who has been sent by the government and Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities to sort out the bankruptcy of Birmingham City Council.

I can best describe my meeting with Mr Caller as ‘jaw-dropping’.

The incompetence and mess is hard to believe and I am afraid it will impact on us in the Royal Town - maybe for years to come.

There will be plenty of time for all of us in Sutton to chew over this. And in a democracy, the remedy must always be the ballot box. Clearly, we cannot expect the taxpayers of, say, Bristol or Liverpool to bailout incompetence in Birmingham. So, we will only be able to do it by a mixture of raising council tax, cuts to vital services and selling off council assets.

On behalf of all my constituents I made the following points:

1. That we want to see asset sales rather than trying to increase council tax. The government have capped any council tax increase for Birmingham at 10% this year and next - still a shocking rise.

This would mean the total amount of council tax charged by Birmingham City Council on Sutton Coldfield residents will rise from last year’s figure of £63 million to £76 million in April 2025, a staggering increase of £13m (21%) in just two years.

2. We want a full and transparent enquiry so that everyone can see who is responsible.

3. That we want as many services as possible devolved down to Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council.

4. A key priority in terms of our local requirements - which Birmingham City Council has been most unhelpful in pursuing - is The Park.

We need them to agree to the new Trust mechanism which should run the Park in future. This should be a three-legged arrangement including Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council,  a national body with expertise and investment capacity on parks and woodland and Birmingham City Council). Then this needs to be developed and implemented.

I set out the details of this - my fourth top priority for our Royal Town - in my Message two weeks ago ( message 199)- https://www.andrew-mitchell-mp.co.uk/news/weekly-message-constituents-199-fighting-future-our-cherished-park

5. I am opposed to the closure of any of the Royal Town’s libraries which are much used, much loved and much needed.

There will be a statement next week by the Commissioners setting out what is required of Birmingham City Council to the Secretary of State, followed by a response from the government.

This year, asset sales of £500 million will be required with a further £250 million next year. Revenue savings this year and next year, as a result of this disastrous financial mismanagement, will need to be in excess of £300m over the next two years.

I shall do my best to continue to protect all my constituents from being legged over financially as a result of mismanagement and incompetence.

Above: Max Caller, the chief commissioner, and I in discussion about the appalling mess of Birmingham City Council and what now needs to be done. I was very impressed by the chief commissioner and his team’s grip and demonstrable leadership.


First UK All-Weather Golf Short Game Area for adults and children with physical and mental challenges in Sutton Coldfield

Walmley Golf Academy & Foundation CIC have just finished installing the first all-weather short game area in the UK, for people with disability aids and wheelchairs.

The foundation is passionate about giving access to playing golf for people who normally may be excluded from the benefits of the sport and interaction. Along with Huxley Golf, the leaders in artificial golf surfaces, Walmley Golf Academy have designed and built a  revolutionary installation.

Walmley Golf Academy and Foundation CIC now fund taster sessions and lessons in the community, thanks to a grant from Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust. This helps attendees who have physical and mental challenges through the health benefits of golf. Sam Stuart, Head Teaching Professional has given children and adults over 1,000 funded lessons.

The Area also provides a blueprint for other golf clubs and centres to repeat the opportunity and create a network nationally of expanding golf inclusivity and diversity through their communities.

I very much look forward to personally visiting them soon to see this brilliant addition first-hand.

If you would like to get involved and support Walmley Golf Academy, they are hosting a Local Opening on Thursday 16th May. There will also be local professional golfers doing the ‘Great Local Hole Out Challenge’, raising money for more projects and taster sessions. There will be coaching demonstrations given; this all coincides with the G4D Open at Woburn Golf Club. This will be followed by complimentary canapés and drinks in the new modern clubhouse.

If you are interested, please contact Rob the Project Manager on email roberterobbins1962@gmail.com or via telephone 07410897977.



Meeting with Stephen from Friends of Birmingham Libraries

This afternoon I met with Stephen King, a campaigner for our local libraries in Sutton Coldfield and a member of Friends of Birmingham Libraries.

I pledged my 100 per cent support for stopping labour closing our libraries.

Here is Cllr David Pears’ petition against the potential closure of the library in the Town Centre: https://www.suttoncoldfieldconservatives.com/campaigns/save-sutton-library-petition

And here is Cllr Ken Wood’s petition against the closure of Walmley Library: https://bit.ly/Save-WalmleyLibrary


Above: Here with Stephen King, the leader of the Friends of Birmingham Libraries



St Giles Hospice and the Cancer Support Centre to continue supporting local people together  

St Giles Hospice and the Cancer Support Centre are pleased to announce that an agreement has been reached to enable both organisations to continue to support local people together at the St Giles Hospice site on Lindridge Road in Sutton Coldfield.  

Andrew Harkness, Chief Executive at St Giles Hospice, and Trevor Saadi, Chair of Trustees at the Cancer Support Centre, have been committed to achieving a positive outcome for both charities. They said: “The new lease allows both charities to continue to provide much needed and valued services which are beneficial for our local communities in Sutton Coldfield. This forms a key part of both organisations’ priorities to sustainably support as many people and communities as they can through their services.  

“St Giles Hospice and The Cancer Support Centre have worked very closely over the last 8 months to discuss and agree a multi-year lease that enables both charities to continue to operate from the Lindridge Road site.”  

To find out more about both organisations, visit: www.stgileshospice.com or www.suttoncancersupport.org

I have been a regular visitor over the last 20 years to St Giles and the Cancer Support Centre, and as their new Patron I am looking forward to my next visit.



Meeting with the Chief Executive of our Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council

I had an excellent meeting with the Chief Executive of our Royal Town Council this afternoon, discussing a number of important initiatives in the Royal Town including plans for this year’s civic service. Details to be announced shortly.

Above: last year’s civic service at Holy Trinity Church



Action Day in Vesey and Boldmere

Tomorrow a large team will be out and about in Vesey and Boldmere distributing Andy Street’s and my survey and literature.

We are hoping for good weather!

Above: The team out and about a few weeks ago along with our Mayor Andy Street



Stop press!

Next week, delivered throughout Our Royal Town to every home and letter Box- The Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council annual Newsletter! I have seen an early copy and it’s a great read.



Westminster Supper Club

It’s back!

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 jack.annett@conservatives.com

In the Commons

This week, parliament has been in recess so the House of Commons has not been in session. But, as ever, my ministerial duties in the Foreign Office continue.


FCDO international LGBT+ rights programme 2023 to 2028 launch

On Monday, the government launched a new 5-year programme worth £40 million to advance the rights of LGBT+ people globally, something I first announced in November at the UK LGBTI Global Giving Summit.

The programme aims to support LGBT+ rights organisations to reduce violence and discrimination, champion human rights compliant laws and policies, and promote political, social and economic inclusion for all.

The programme has 4 components designed to support locally-based, community-led(grassroots) responses to the main challenges faced by LGBT+ people with a particular focus on Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

You can read more about it here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fcdo-international-lgbt-rights-programme-2023-to-2028-objectives/summary-fcdo-international-lgbt-rights-programme-2023-to-2028


‘Stop! Think Fraud’ Campaign launched on Monday

Fraud is an awful blight on our society and can ruin lives, so I welcome news that the Government’s crackdown on fraud has cut fraud referrals by 12.7% in the West Midlands. The Government’s new ‘Stop! Think Fraud’ campaign will build on this excellent progress, raising public awareness on fraud safety and building on the Conservative long-term Fraud Strategy announced last year.

Since 2019,the Government has implemented a whole range of long-term reforms to tackle fraud by creating new national fraud squad with over 400 new investigators, banning SIM farms which are used by criminals to send thousands of scam texts and stopping cold calls for financial products so people cannot be duped by scammers.

Further Information

Sepsis Savvy Walk, Sutton Park 16th March

The Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust are backing the Sepsis Savvy Walk, run by The UK Sepsis Trust, a national charity that was founded in Sutton Coldfield by a consultant from Good Hope Hospital.

The Walk is being held in Sutton Park on 16th March, and preparations are underway.

Registration is now open, and you can register here: https://t.co/kMFAn7qJwQ


Coffee Morning, St Columba’s Church Hall:

A453 Closure


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 19th February of the BCC Mobile Household Recycling Centre.

-  Wed 21/02/2024, Langley Heath Drive B76 2XB, 07:00 - 12:30, Sutton- Walmley & Minworth