22 March 2024
Weekly Message to Constituents 206 - Second day of spring
In the Constituency

Our Conservative Annual General Meeting takes place tonight in the Royal Town and I will be speaking about our plans for yet more future investment in Sutton Coldfield.

I will, as well as covering my work throughout Sutton Coldfield over the last year, be reporting back from Westminster and the Foreign Office.

Above: Last year’s AGM


An update on three important developments

This week a number of people have asked for an update on three important development issues within Royal Sutton Coldfield. As it happens l have been chasing for answers which I have now received so I can report back:

1. The Redrose Centre 

Meetings have been taking place to ensure that there is a joined-up approach to this centre, which houses our main library, with the Gracechurch centre development this week. I will report back further in due course, but I am happy that wheels are turning.

2. Brassington Avenue and Aldi 

On Brassington Avenue, I am advised that major structural difficulties with the culvert and the containment of river water have been addressed - following my earlier intervention.

We now hope that after so many years, life will breathe back into this area which has for so long been a wasteland.

3 . Midland Lodge in the Park 

This is moving forward with agents instructed. There is a need to ensure sufficient vehicular access, but a sales plan is in place. 


These are essentially planning matters, but they are of more than local significance, which is why as your MP, I take a very great interest on behalf of all of my constituents.


Fairfax Has Got Talent! Piano maestro Mindy wins annual contest

Congratulations to Mindy Wan, the brilliantly talented young pianist who won the annual Fairfax Has Got talent contest last week with her rendition of ‘Golden Hour’.

Fairfax Has Got Talent takes place annually at the school in Fairfax Road, with Year 7 pupils performing in a hotly contested competition between the four houses of Stratford, Warwick, Kenilworth and Coventry.

On Friday, March 15, the audience cheered on the acts, encouraging the singers to hit the high notes, dancers to put their best feet forward and musicians to strike chord.

The judges - Natalie Thompson, Mathematics Lead at the Fairfax Multi-Academy Trust (FMAT), the school’s Mental Health Support Worker, Siobhan Smith-Inniss and journalist Gary Phelps – faced the tough task of picking the winner and runners-up.

Fairfax is renowned for its prowess in the performing arts, with the annual Eisteddfod forming the highlight of the year and contributing to the academy’s passionately competitive house system.

I regularly visit Fairfax Academy and I am always impressed by the talent displayed by the students and the dedication of the staff.

For the full story, and to see a video of Mindy performing, click here: https://suttonschoollife.co.uk/2024/03/19/fairfax-has-got-talent-piano-maestro-mindy-wins-annual-contest/


Getting ready for this year’s School Debating competition

The countdown has begun to this year’s Schools Parliamentary Debating Competition, which sees teams of local youngsters take the stage to debate often tricky subjects.

As is the tradition this year’s event, on April 25th, is to be hosted by last year’s winner, John Willmott School.

This week the first round of motions to be debated were shared with all of the town’s secondary schools and Sutton College, who will begin shaping their arguments for the big night.

The first-round motions were: 

·       This house believes that bringing back National Service would be beneficial to today’s young people.

·       This house believes that we should ban air travel to help fight climate change

·       This house believes that Sutton Coldfield should not be part of Birmingham.

·       This house believes Parliament should be moved out of London.

However, it is the second round of debates, where the students are provided with new unseen motions, that really sees the competition come alive, as they think on their feet.

It’s always a fantastic celebration of education in the Royal Town and having founded the parliamentary debating competition over 20 years ago, I am very much looking forward to chairing the debate.

Last year’s winners were Hunor Veres and Tatenda Mutonga, who were the first ever winning team from John Willmott. They enjoyed the traditional prize of a visit to the House of Commons to see real-life political debate in action.

With this year’s event just weeks away, I’m looking forward to seeing local students proudly represent their schools.


Sutton Farmer’s Market returns on Easter Sunday

The monthly event, organised by Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield BID, will include more than 30 stalls along the Parade, when it returns on 31st March from 10am–3pm.

And following an Easter theme, the crowds will be entertained by stilt walking rabbits, while youngsters can get a bunny makeover courtesy of a free face painting stall.

Shoppers will be able to purchase quality, locally produced farm shop foods, bread, fish and cheese, as well as sweet treats like cakes, fudge, chocolate and ice cream. 

There will be authentic Indian and Caribbean cuisine, pizza and pies, and even natural, handmade pet treats.

Alongside the delicious array of food available, shoppers will find a variety of handmade artwork and crafts, crystals, soaps, clothing and jewellery. There will also be live music.

The Farmer’s Market is one of many regular events organised by the BID – which is entirely funded by local businesses – and aims to reinvigorate the town centre.


A New shop in Sutton Coldfield: S. Nutt Sewing Machines

My congratulations to Richard and Tony Nutt for opening up a new shop here in Sutton Coldfield to mark the 75th anniversary of their family business, S Nutt Sewing Machines.

The company was started in 1949 by Richard Nutt’s grandfather, Stephen and grandmother, Violet, who began selling pianos and bric-a-brac from a shop in Alum Rock. Richard’s 81-year-old father also helps out, and so too does his youngest son – four generations of technical expertise!

The family originally hail from the Royal Town and now, as part of their 75th anniversary celebrations, they have moved  back to their hometown.

I look forward to dropping by and personally visiting soon.

Above: Our Royal Town Mayor Tony Briggs has already visited the new shop in Avery Road

in the Commons

In defence of the Commonwealth

Last Friday in The Telegraph, Christopher Hope wrote an amusing column in defence of the Commonwealth, which I would like share:



New legislation to protect our furry friends

This week brings promising developments for the welfare of our beloved four-legged companions. Parliament has thrown its support behind a proposed new law aimed at safeguarding the health and welfare of puppies in our community.

Under the Animal Welfare (importation of Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets) Bill, spearheaded by North Devon MP Selaine Saxby, measures will be implemented to crack down on puppy smuggling. Sellers will be prohibited from importing puppies under six months old, and pregnant dogs will not be permitted to travel. Additionally, animals with mutilations, such as cropped ears, will be prevented from entering the country.

This legislation marks a significant step towards protecting the thousands of pets that enter Great Britain annually. 

The government is united in our efforts to eradicate the cruel trade of puppy smuggling and lead the world in upholding animal welfare standards. 

Stay tuned for more updates on this important legislation in the weeks to come!


Urgent Question on Gaza and Israel

On Tuesday, I made a statement to the House of Commons on the situation in Gaza and Israel. This was followed by 61 questions from colleagues across the House over the next hour and a half.

If you would like to watch it, please click here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/77605710-677b-4d91-96e2-5f40ba4a06ea?in=12:35:41


Westminster Hall debate on Human Rights in Sri Lanka

On Wednesday I spoke in the Westminster Hall debate on Human Rights.

If you would like to, you can watch it here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/13ea61b4-1802-4fb1-81ef-845c0838372f


Urgent Question on Hong Kong security legislation

On Wednesday, I gave a statement to the House of Commons (in my role deputizing for the foreign secretary) on the security and human rights implications of Article 23 in Hong Kong. This was followed by 13 questions from my colleagues.

You can watch the session here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/87cae7bb-75c4-4366-8c3a-70ffdd3fba6a?in=13:04:43


Bond manifesto launch

On Wednesday I spoke at the Bond Manifesto Launch, discussing how there needs to be a shift in the global development system and what can be done to facilitate this through the international development whitepaper.

You can see a brief of their manifesto here: https://www.bond.org.uk/resources/bond-manifesto-2024/


APPG on UN Global Goals

On Wednesday I also gave a briefing to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, discussing our International Development White Paper.

Further information

Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System’s Fairer Futures Fund

This ringfenced £22.2m Fund first launched in 2022, with various funding streams awarded up until 2027 for projects which will improve the health and wellbeing of citizens across Birmingham and Solihull; reduce health inequalities and support communities to stay well.

Applications are now open for public and VCFSE sector organisations in Birmingham to bid for Citywide Small Grants being made available via the Fairer Futures Fund.

A total of £2.46million is available through the new Citywide Small Grants, with organisations in Birmingham able to bid for up to £15,000 per year, or up to a maximum of £45,000 for individual projects over a three-year delivery period.

The deadline for applications for the Citywide Small Grants scheme is 5pm on 12July 2024. For more information on how to apply, visit the Heart of England Community Foundation website(https://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/ffcw-small-grants/)

. A free workshop is being held on 8 April 2024 to help organisations understand how to apply for the Citywide Small Grants. Organisations can register to attend here:https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fairer-futures-fund-citywide-small-grants-workshop-tickets-861400119947?aff=oddtdtcreator


Post Office - Hill Hook Drop & Collect - B74 4LT

A new service has been introduced, known as Hill Hook Drop & Collect Post Office, to the post office branch in Four Oaks (308 Clarence Road B74 4LT).

Please see below for opening hours and the products and services available:

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 North western 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 betweenWatford Junction and St Albans Abbey (Abbey Line) between March 29-April 1inclusive

·       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

Coffee Morning, St Columba’s Church Hall:

Farmers and Craft Market:

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