8 March 2024
Weekly Message to Constituents 204 - Best of times, worst of times

Before I begin my message, I would like to wish all of the inspirational women across the Royal Town a happy International Women’s Day. 

Today, we celebrate the achievements and contributions of women worldwide. From entrepreneurs to leaders, from caregivers to innovators, women make our communities stronger. Let’s continue to support and empower women in all facets of life.

In the Constituency


I am so pleased to say that, after extensive lobbying of the government and the presentation of a case made much easier by the success of our Royal Town Council, I have been successful in persuading the government to include us in the Long-Term Plan for Towns - a programme worth £20 million to Royal Sutton Coldfield.

The Long-Term Plan for Towns is a fundamentally different way of approaching the challenges towns face, putting power back into the hands of local people so that they can decide on local priorities and what is best for the future of the places in which they live. We want to make towns places where people and businesses want to invest, creating jobs and breathing new life into our high streets and town centres. As the local MP, I shall sit on the Town Board, and will be engaged in securing the appointment of the independent Chair of that Board and will be heavily involved as part of the development of our Town’s Long-Term Plan.

Each town will receive ‘endowment-style' funding and support worth up to £20 million, to give them the certainty to deliver projects over the 10-year lifespan of the programme, and flexibility to invest in interventions based on local needs and priorities. For towns in England and Scotland, we have published on gov.uk extensive guidance to support towns to set up their Town Board and develop their Long-Term Plan.

This is a further important step forward and I look forward to ensuring we consult widely about how this extra money can make a real difference in our ongoing work of making Sutton Coldfield one of the best places in Britain to live.



Government investment in grassroots sport facilities in Sutton Coldfield:-

I am delighted to report that the Royal Town has successfully won further funding to support it sport and games facilities.

The awards are as follows.


£3,960.00 for goalposts

£3,843.00 for new Floodlights



£2,887.00 for maintenance Equipment

£6,188.00 to upgrade the pavilion



£24,770.00 for maintenance Equipment


Millions of people across the country play, watch and enjoy sport every day - it is central to our national identity. We all know that being active and playing sport has the power to change lives for the better. Quite simply, an active life is a happier, healthier and more prosperous life, which is why the Government has set out our ambitious Get Active strategy to get over 3.5 million more people active by 2030, including 1 million young people.

To achieve this, we are working with local communities to improve access to high quality grassroots sport facilities, levelling up facilities across the whole of the UK supported by an historic level of investment.


University of Birmingham

This afternoon I had the pleasure of going to University of Birmingham from the Royal Town where I also undertake the role of visiting professor.

This was a debate with my Labour neighbour Liam Byrne MP on the following topics:

1. ‘What are the likely factors that will shape this year’s General Election?’ 

2. ‘What are the main challenges for the next UK Government?’ 

3. ‘What are the main issues that young people in the UK will be thinking about as we approach the next General Election?’

The debate engaged with a lively group of students as we dissected the run up to the next General election and beyond.

The University of Birmingham is one of the greatest academic institutions in the UK. It adds immeasurably to our local life, including in the Royal Town, and I commend all those who make it the success it so clearly is.


Worst of times

As you may know, this week was the week in which Birmingham City Council set out their spending plans for the next financial year starting on April 5. I have been battling hard to support our local councillors intent on protecting the Royal Town from BCC mismanagement including (as I reported in weekly message 201) in my conversation with the Chief Commissioner who has been given the job of sorting out Birmingham’s financial mess.

I am sorry to say, the BCC Budget inflicts us with the following :-

1.     It Increases Council Tax over the next two years by a whopping 21% 

2.     ⁠a moves to fortnightly bin collections 

3.     closing much-loved local libraries

I think there will be many people who will feel very let down and disappointed.

Judging by the thousands of emails I have received from across the whole Royal Town, that dismay and disappointment is very widely felt.

To cap it all, our brilliant mayor Andy Street is not imposing any precept AT ALL - for the 8th year in a row, and the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council (so thrifty with your money) are presenting a long-term sustainable future for our Park via the trust model we both worked up together.

BCC is now proposing ludicrously impractical parking charges in our park to raise funds to fritter away elsewhere in the city.


Amnesty group meeting

Last Friday after my regular advice session, my final meeting of the day was with the Sutton Coldfield Amnesty Group at the Holy Trinity RC Church, discussing the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as well as the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

I spoke about how the UK government remains resolutely committed to protecting and promoting human rights. With relation to the deeply troubling situation in the Middle East, I spoke about how, through diplomatic efforts, the government are committed to finding a sustainable ceasefire, getting essential aid into Gaza and the hostages out.

If you have any enquiries about the local Amnesty group, please see here: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/groups/sutton-coldfield 



Carparking at Good Hope Hospital

I have received the following notice from the deputy Chair of the Patients and Community Council at Good Hope Hospital with regards to car parking:

‘We have recently discussed the ongoing parking issues at the hospital and there are important changes which patients and visitors attending might like to be aware of. 

The parking has been contracted out to Q-Parks.  There are now red lines on all roads inside the hospital estate and anyone abusing the system will be fined.  Although not yet installed, there will be vehicle recognition cameras installed at both entrances, Rectory Road and Bedford Road which will be linked to the DVLA.  Motorists will have 20 minutes to either park, drop off or collect patients.  If they do not park or leave the site, they will be fined.

Notice Boards will be erected at each entrance to advise those entering.

Neil Turnbull is the Estates Manager if you wish to check the information.

I hope this information is helpful.’



John Wilmott set to give out more than 800 free blazers and ties

John Willmott School is to give more than 800 free blazers and ties to its students as it continues to reinvent itself - in a bid to become the town’s ‘school of choice’.

The generous move is part of a journey of improvement that will see the school renamed the Royal Sutton School in September, with the readopted motto of ‘Potential into Reality’, a redesigned school badge and a brand-new uniform.

Elsewhere at the school, which is part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), a revised curriculum is delivering results in the classroom, while innovative ‘Moral Virtues’ are improving behaviour and instilling a sense of pride in the students.

I have been hugely impressed by the improvements being seen at John Willmott, under the leadership of headteacher Nicola Gould. Earlier this year, the significant progress at the school resulted in its first ever ‘Good’ Ofsted rating – a huge achievement for a school that has faced challenges in the past.

Ahead of the new academic year, vouchers to get the new blazers and ties will be provided to students in Years 8 to 11, who will also get a free PE sports top. The vouchers will be redeemable at popular school uniform retailer Clive Mark.

The other parts of the uniform – such as trousers, skirts and jumpers – are all basic navy-blue items, which can be bought at a reasonable price from numerous outlets.

Headteacher Nicola Gould said: “We are so excited to announce this uniform scheme, which will really provide the icing on the cake when the school relaunches under its new name in the autumn.

“Providing the basic uniform items like this removes so many barriers – we are passionate about our students and are very proud of how they have embraced the new direction of the school, so being able to so this enables everyone to stand together and look forward.

For the full story, click here: https://suttonschoollife.co.uk/2024/03/06/john-willmott-free-uniform-school-to-give-out-800-free-blazers-and-ties/



Westminster Supper club

Our Westminster Supper Club held last Friday was a brilliant success and I want to thank everyone who came along.

If you would like to join this dining club where we come together every quarter, and make some new friends, enjoy a fabulous dinner and a speech by a guest speaker, then please email our agent Jack, at jack.annett@conservatives.com



Meeting of Indians4WM group

Our very own Cllr Dr Nitish Raut hosted a volunteer award over last weekend, honouring the volunteers in Indians4WM for their hard work.

Whilst I was not able to attend on this occasion, I have been told everyone had a superb evening!

Please see below picture of Cllr Dr Nitish, Andy Street and some of the many volunteers who attended the awards who I’ve been told enjoyed a delightful ceremony.



World Book Day 

Yesterday was World Book Day. Reading regularly is an excellent habit and every year  we can celebrate the joy of books, authors, illustrators and reading for pleasure.

Currently I am reading: 


In the Commons

The Royal Town Mayor Tony Briggs and Lady Mayoress visit Parliament

I was delighted to welcome our Royal Town Mayor Tony Briggs and Mayoress Pamela Briggs to Parliament on Wednesday for lunch, and to watch Prime Minister’s Questions and to listen to the Budget Statement. I thanked them both for their wonderful service to our Town during their mayoral year.

Here is a picture of the three of us on the House of Commons Terrace.



The Budget

Last year, the government cut National Insurance from 12% to 10%. On Wednesday it was announced that we’re cutting your National Insurance from 10% to 8%. That’s a £900 tax cut for people on average salaries.

Find out what it means for you with this tax calculator:


Because we’re sticking with our plan, the economy is turning a corner. Inflation is more than halved and is expecting to be below the 2% target in the second quarter of this year. Mortgage rates are starting to fall. Spending is under control.  Debt is set to fall. 

Slowly but surely, we’re recovering from the pandemic and the effects of the Ukraine war. 

So that’s why we can afford to cut taxes for hardworking families.

This is good for jobs, good for the economy — and ensures that work always pays.

If you would like to watch the full budget statement, please click here:



UN Human Rights Council 55

Last Friday morning, I remotely gave an address to the High Commissioner of the United Nations Human Rights Council with regards to the civil war in Sudan where over 12,000 have been killed and 18 million face acute hunger.

If you would like to, you can read my speech here.



Lord Fowler in the House of Lords

The Royal Town’s former Member of Parliament who sits in the House of Lords, Lord Norman Fowler recently spoke in the Upper House about military national service. 

If you would like to, you can watch Lord Fowler’s speech here.


Further information

Update from West Midlands Trains - Easter Engineering Works

This year the Easter weekend runs from Friday 29 March (Good Friday) to Monday 1 April (Easter Monday).

During this period Network Rail will be carrying out essential upgrades to railway infrastructure which will impact both London Northwestern Railway and West Midlands Railway services.

The primary impacts on the West Midlands Trains network are:

·       No trains will operate to/from London Euston between March 29-April 1 inclusive

·       No trains will operate between Northampton and Milton Keynes on March 30 or March 31 (Easter Sunday)

·       No trains will operate between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey (Abbey Line) between March 29-April 1 inclusive

·       No trains will operate between Lichfield Trent Valley and Birmingham New Street (Cross City Line) between April 2-April 5 inclusive

Rail replacement transport will be in operation on all affected dates. Customers travelling to London Euston are advised to travel either side of the Easter weekend, or use alternative routes.

More information on these works and travel advice for customers is available on the following dedicated web pages:

London Northwestern Railway: www.lnr.uk/easter

West Midlands Railway: www.wmr.uk/easter


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:


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 11th March of the BCC Mobile Household Recycling Centre.

·       Mon 11/03/2024, Littlecote Drive B23 5QZ 07:00 - 12:30 Sutton Vesey