29 March 2024
Weekly Message to Constituents 207 - Happy Easter
In the Constituency

Sutton Coldfield Conservative Association AGM



Last Friday we held the Annual General Meeting of the Royal Town’s Conservatives chaired by our President Mrs Kay Noone. 


I spoke at the meeting and our Chair Nigel Waldron, and Treasurer Harry Parmar reported on what has been a very strong year for delivery by the Conservatives for Sutton Coldfield.






Sutton Coldfield Chamber of Commerce

Chris Brewerton is stepping down as director of the Sutton Coldfield Chamber of Commerce after over 5 years. I worked closely with Chris and he has done a great job for business in the Royal Town. We are extremely grateful to him for his drive and ambition.

In a note to me, Chris has said:

‘It has been an absolute pleasure working in the town of Royal Sutton Coldfield over the past 5 and a half years. 

I’ve worked with some of the very best businesses the town has to offer with special mention to current and past presidents Nigel Waldron, Katie Hale, Phil Arkinstall and Naeem Arif and far too many members of the Chamber to mention individually who have come together and supported each other through good, bad and indifferent times.

The Town Council, Business Improvement District, Charitable Trust, numerous educational establishments and the wider business community and strategic partners all work extremely hard for the good of the district and having been part of those efforts heading up the Chamber I wish all of them the very best in the future.’ 





Royal Town’s schools among best in the country

As schools across the Royal Town break up for the Easter holidays, it has been a real boost to read this week that Sutton Coldfield is the best location in the Midlands for state schooling.

Analysis from Savills examines built-up areas all over England and ranks them nationally by the proportion of pupils, who are attending an outstanding primary school, and by the average Attainment 8 score per secondary school pupil.

I asked Dominic Robson, Headteacher of Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School to pen a few words. Dominic, who has chaired the Sutton secondary headteacher group for the last seven years, said: ‘It is fantastic that Savills recognises the quality of state education in the Royal Town. We all collaborate well to deliver excellence for our pupils. A good example of this is the annual Sutton Secondary Schools Parliamentary Debating Competition. This year it takes place on April 25th at John Wilmott School. It will, I’m sure, be a wonderful showcase for the excellence that exists in all the Sutton schools.’



Above: from my meeting last year with the headteachers of our outstanding secondary schools 



Sutton Coldfield one of the most generous constituencies in the country 

I was delighted to receive the annual Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) report which demonstrated the sheer generosity of the Royal Town and just how much we donate to charity.

Sutton Coldfield was the most generous constituency in the West Midlands.

Royal Sutton Coldfield came 15th out of 650 constituencies in terms of generosity (estimated annual donations as a proportion of household income), with donations as percentage of income at 2.61%. 

It is always a joy to receive such reports showcasing the superb qualities of the people of Sutton Coldfield.



in the Commons

The House of Commons rose for Easter recess this week but, as well as my constituency work throughout Sutton Coldfield, my ministerial work continues. Indeed, this message comes to you from the British Embassy in Ethiopia, as I return from visiting Chad and seeing what more Britian can do to help the Sudanese who have been driven in very large numbers across the border into Chad as a result of the fighting and food shortages there.


In Chad - on the border with Sudan to where hundreds of thousands have fled - many of them children suffering from acute malnutrition . This little chap is one of the lucky ones . I met him and his mother at a World Food  Programme  distribution centre in one of the makeshift camps which have sprung up just inside Chad . Britain is supporting the WFP in its vital work and also intervening directly to tackle severe malnutrition amongst children



Girls Education Challenge Celebration at the Foreign Office

Last Thursday we celebrated the huge impact that the Government's Girls' Education Challenge is having. 

Over 1.6million girls have accessed learning including over 65,000 young mothers, almost 160,000 with disabilities, over 200,000 who had never been to school, and over half a million living in fragile and conflict affected places.

You can read more about it here: https://girlseducationchallenge.org/#/




Cyprus in UK

I also attended an event marking 60 years of the UN’s presence in Cyprus and honouring the British peacekeepers who served there. 

As a very young officer in the Royal Tank Regiment, I spent time in Cyprus as a member of the United Nations forces there in 1975.


Above: speaking at the event held at Cyprus House



APPG for France

On Monday evening I spoke at the All-Party Parliamentary Group for France, marking the 3rd Annual Franco-British Reception in Parliament. The event was attended by parliamentary colleagues as well as representatives cross the Franco-British business community, so it was also a chance for me to bang the drum for Sutton Coldfield and the West Midlands as the perfect place for business investment!

This year is a particularly important one for the Franco-British relationship. 2024 marks the 120th Anniversary of the Entente Cordiale agreement which brought an end the antagonisms between Great Britain and France, helping to pave the way for diplomatic cooperation going forward. This year, we also celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landings (6 June 1944), also known as D-Day, as well as the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Channel Tunnel. There is plenty to celebrate!


Above: here with the French ambassador, Stephen Crabb MP who is the chair of the APPG, and Greg Hands MP the minister for trade, among others.



Israel Gaza statement

On Tuesday I gave a statement to the House of Commons, providing an update on the situation in Israel and Gaza.

On Monday, the international community took a significant step, with the passing of United Nations Security Council resolution 2728 calling for a pause in hostilities during the month of Ramadan, as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages in Gaza.

You can watch my statement- and the 48 questions which followed- here:



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 between Watford 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