19 April 2024
Weekly Message to Constituents 210 - A potential new tenant for Sutton’s old M&S store
In the Constituency

A potential new tenant for Sutton’s old M&S store


Global retail giant Harvey Norman is in advanced talks to make The Gracechurch Centre its new UK Headquarters - including the opening of a new store and UK office.

I understand that they are looking at the former M&S unit. This is brilliant news for Sutton Coldfield town centre.

This deal would see a significant investment into Sutton Coldfield, in addition to a multi-million pound investment already committed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Harvey Norman, an Australian lifestyle, technology, and entertainment retailer with 317 stores worldwide, continues to expand its global footprint with a 'string of investments' across the Midlands, adding to its UK portfolio.

Sutton Coldfield would be Harvey Norman’s second UK investment and second in the West Midlands, having already announced plans to open a store at Dudley’s Merry Hill shopping centre.

Katie Page, CEO of Harvey Norman, said: “We believe that The Gracechurch Centre in Sutton Coldfield has enormous potential, and we hope it will be a fantastic UK headquarters for us for many years to come.”

Plans to regenerate Sutton Coldfield's Gracechurch Centre continue to win support from stakeholders and businesses across the region.

Anton Nikolaenko, investment director of SAV Group, said: “We are working closely with all parties to welcome Harvey Norman to Royal Sutton Coldfield. The people of the town deserve a quality retail offer, and we hope to make further announcements in the near future.”


A local charity we should all Cherish

Last week I visited Cherished, the Boldmere-based charity which was recognised with the King’s Award for Voluntary Service last year.

Hannah Simnett (pictured with me above), the CEO at Cherished, updated me on the brilliant work that they are doing across Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham.

Cherished, which has over 100 fully trained volunteers, was set up by Hannah in 2012 and now goes in to virtually every school in the Royal Town and across Birmingham - 70 schools in total. They help marginalised girls - and some boys - with confidence, guidance, support and encouragement as they chart the difficulties of young life.

I am very pleased to hear that Cherished have now secured office space in the Gracechurch Centre to carry out their operations.


Above: Cherished winning the King’s Award for Voluntary Service 

Cherished are hosting a conference next month, which I am looking forward to speaking at.

Here are the details:


Aldi, Brassington Avenue

I have chased up progress on the Aldi planning application on Brassington Avenue and I am pleased to report the following update from the assistant director of planning at Birmingham City Council:

‘In relation to the outstanding issues, the culvert issues is now resolved. The applicant is still working on updating the plans to align with new Biodiversity Net Gain requirements, and some tweaks to the highways. We are still awaiting those drawings but understand we will have these imminently. We now hope to be able to decide this under delegated powers so won't need to go to planning committee (so we will hopefully be able to make the decision relatively quickly when we have those amended plans in). The officer continues to engage with applicant and facilitate the resolution of the case.’

I know there is a great deal of interest in this across Sutton Coldfield, so I will provide updates as and when they come, through my weekly messages.




Yoga in rugby

For some time now, I have been a great supporter of the Sutton Coldfield based YogoJo Foundation ran by CEO Joanna Fletcher, and the work YogoJo has done with Sutton Coldfield Rugby Club in implementing yoga-based injury prevention sessions. They now have 300 players practicing yoga weekly as part of their training, through practicing ‘Pitch Ready’.

‘Pitch Ready’ includes physical movements promoted by the Rugby Football Union and it also brings elements of breathing techniques, mindfulness aspects, and relaxation-based practices.

The YogoJo foundation has made leaps and strides in progress with sharing the benefits of yoga in injury prevention, working directly with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Yoga and now with Sport England to expand their project to rugby-playing schools in the Royal Town.




in the Commons

As I write this message I am returning to Sutton Coldfield from Washington where, as part of my ministerial duties, I have been active as the British Governor of the World Bank attending their annual meetings and trying to advance our UK agenda there.

I shall be back in the Royal Town this weekend.



Deputy Foreign Secretary

Many thanks to my generous constituents who sent nice messages about my minor promotion to Deputy Foreign Secretary!

I now find as DFS I am named after a sofa company!



Humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia

I spent Tuesday in Geneva, raising money from many other countries and organisations to ease the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia.

This continues to worsen with hundreds of thousands of children suffering from serious acute malnutrition. 

Britain pledged some taxpayers’ money specifically to help save the lives of these children by feeding and supporting them, and as a result of our own pledge we were able to crowd in substantial sums from other countries and significant organisations. 

Further information


Sutton Coldfield Society of Artists Spring Exhibition 2024

The Spring Exhibition of the Sutton Coldfield Society of Artists will take place in the Bedford Suite, Sutton Coldfield Town Hall from 10.00am Saturday 4th May until 4:00pm Sunday 12th May. 

Exhibition open 9:00am to 5:00pm each day.


Advocacy Matters, Recruitment Event


Civic Society Summer programme


M42 closure alert near Birmingham Airport as drivers warned to check before travel

Drivers are being warned to expect disruption and prepare to divert their journeys ahead of an M42 closure this week and next week. Slip road and lane restrictions will be in operation between the M42 J6, which serves Solihull-based BHX, and J7.

More info here: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/m42-closure-alert-near-birmingham-28996909?int_source=amp_continue_reading&int_medium=amp&int_campaign=continue_reading_button#amp-readmore-target

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 12 July 2024. For more information on how to apply, visit the Heart of England Community Foundation website (https://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/ffcw-small-grants/)


Sutton Arts Theatre- what’s on


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 29th Aprl of the BCC Mobile Household Recycling Centre.

·       Fri  03/05/2024 Reay Nadin Drive B73 6UL 07:30 - 13:00 Sutton Vesey