24 May 2024
Weekly Message to Constituents 215 - Jumbo pre-election issue!

It’s been a busy week what with weddings and general elections being called!

In the Constituency

The General Election

Next Thursday I cease to be your MP and will be the Conservative parliamentary candidate in the General Election which is rather suddenly upon us!

This weekly message can continue under the rules but as I am not your MP, I will be writing it as a candidate seeking to win your support based on my 23-year record of service as Member of Parliament for the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield, alongside sharing my plans and priorities for the future. Above all, I will be seeking to build our local prosperity and security and protect us all from the terrible financial mismanagement and incompetence of Birmingham which has hurt all of us in Sutton Coldfield and inflicted such damage on our local community.

I will also be setting out plans to boost the role of the Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council locally and seek devolution of powers from Birmingham City Council in order to boost our extremely well-run conservative Town Council, which is local government closest to local people, delivering and respected across our local community.

I will have more to say about this here during the campaign.



Sea Rangers

I had the pleasure of visiting the Sutton Sea Rangers and their headquarters in Sutton Park this week.

The 18 young women who are members of this longstanding Royal Town organisation enjoy a wonderful time learning water skills in an extremely well supervised and safe environment -thanks to their dedicated team of organisers and directing staff.

Sadly, this group is another example of bad treatment by Labour Birmingham City Council, and I will be taking this up with the council in the remaining days before I cease to be your MP on Thursday next week to fight the General Election.



Four Oaks Primary School

I enjoyed meeting those who run this brilliant playgroup which is oversubscribed but delivers superb early education for its young people by its experienced leadership.

Working together with our experienced local councillor Maureen Cornish, we are trying to sort out an entirely illogical problem with Birmingham City planners which threatens the success of this outstanding organisation.

During my visit, I met their dedicated staff and helpers and saw for myself the absurd problems being caused by Labour Birmingham.

In the days before next Thursday, when I cease to be your MP and fight to secure re-election, I will be taking this up with the council on behalf of local people.

I will also be raising this during the Secretary of State for Education’s visit to the Royal Town shortly.




Behind the scenes as our cherished cinema is restored to its former glory

Above: The stunning lobby of the newly-renamed Royal Cinema is taking shape.

Now some brilliant, positive news about one of Sutton Coldfield’s most cherished buildings.

Today I was privileged to get a glimpse of the work being done to bring the former Odeon cinema back to life – and I can report that this beautiful Grade II listed building is looking fabulous.

Now officially renamed the Royal, this much-loved landmark is being returned to its original art deco splendour by skilled workmen, with the aim of reopening by the end of July.

The new owners, Paul, James and Deborah Jervis, are members of Britain’s longest-standing cinema family - a business with strong connections to Sutton Coldfield – and they deserve huge thanks for the way they are lovingly resurrecting this architectural gem.

I am so proud of helping facilitate the discussions that helped lead to the Jervis family becoming owners of this magical place.

Manager Des Christie showed me around the different rooms, the reshaped balcony area (which will soon include a licensed bar) and the auditoriums, all of which are seeing their original art deco features uncovered and restored.

Most strikingly, the cinema’s wonderful lobby area has been transformed, with the original high ceiling reinstated and the elegant tall windows uncovered, after being blacked out for decades. I cannot wait to see it when it is finished. I’m sure Sutton people will find it absolutely breath taking.

Above: With our cinema support group this afternoon at a happy celebration for the campaign and the tremendous success which is now our cinema



Golf stars help launch UK-first disabled facility in Sutton

This week I was honoured to attend the official opening of a UK-first in Sutton Coldfield, when a new disability-friendly ‘short play area’ was unveiled at Walmley Golf Club.

This pioneering new facility – effectively an artificial putting green that is accessible to people of all abilities – is the result of fantastic work by Walmley Golf Foundation CIC, and was funded by a grant of more than £44,000 from Sutton Coldfield Charitable Trust.

On Thursday I was privileged to speak at the official launch, before Keith Dudley, chair of the Charitable Trust, cut the ribbon to declare the green open.

We then watched as three stars of the game tried a chipping challenge on the new facility, expertly aiming their shots over an inflatable paddling pool!

Alison Nicholas MBE, a Women's US Open Winner and the European Solheim Cup Captain joined Ellie Perks, European Disabled Golf Association tour star and Ellie Potts, who is currently studying for her PGA coaching qualification- at Birmingham University in the fun game.

This really is a brilliant new facility, which is already benefitting dozens of users under the guidance of coach Sam Stuart, who had the original idea for it. It was hugely encouraging to see that Golf England attended the event, as it is hoped that many other clubs across the UK will now follow Walmley’s lead and build their own disability-friendly short play area.

After all, they have a template they can follow that was created right here in Sutton Coldfield.

Above: At the official opening of Walmley Golf Foundation’s brilliant short play area.



Donkey Sanctuary Meeting

This week in Westminster I had a meeting with Ian Cawsey, the Director for Advocacy and Campaigns for The Donkey Sanctuary.

I told him there was dismay among my constituents at the possible closure of this much-loved facility in our Park.

Ian explained that the Donkey Sanctuary in Sutton Park is one of 6 Donkey Assisted Activity Centres, which in total are costing the charity £3 million a year to run to look after just 100 donkeys. These Centres have become very expensive operations and this adds to the current financial stress in the sector particularly for a charity which aims to raise the welfare for donkeys not just in the UK but worldwide.

The charity have agreed a 45-day period for consultations (longer than the statutory 30 day requirement) and this will give time to reflect on possible ways ahead.

Already, both I and councillor David Pears have been approached with some interesting thoughts and ideas, all of which I have passed on to the charity. These include a possible centre for riding for the disabled or indeed a riding school which I think might also be a great facility for local people -particularly once we have a new ownership structure for our Park.

In addition, I have spoken to the Director of City Operations at Birmingham City Council and established the site is held on a lease for 75 years at a set cost of £3750 pa.

So, all ideas are welcome - especially serious and costed business proposals for what is a unique and rather wonderful place where I would like to see animal-related sanctuary riding leisure activities continue if at all possible, with a particular focus on children.






Brassington Avenue

At long last it’s happening - this decades-long derelict sight is on the match as part of our Town centre development work and the RSCTC masterplan.

Cllr Simon Ward, leader of Sutton Coldfield Town Council said: ‘It's great to see another vote of confidence in our town centre with Aldi beginning work on Brassington avenue. Our town centre masterplan sets out a clear roadmap and this is another step in its delivery.’

Above: With Aldi construction engineers inside the Brassington Avenue site



Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield BID

I had a meeting today with Michelle Baker of Visit Royal Sutton Coldfield BID, our manager for Sutton Coldfield Town Centre, who is doing great work with local businesses. We had a good discussion about our project to get CCTV into the Town Centre.




Lord Norman Fowler appointed High Steward of the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield

Historic news: I am delighted that an ancient local role, which dates back nearly 500 years, is being reinstated. The Royal Town is once again to have a High Steward - and my parliamentary predecessor, Lord Norman Fowler, the former MP for Royal Sutton Coldfield, has been unanimously appointed to this prestigious honorific position.

The installation of The High Steward of Royal Sutton Coldfield, The Lord Fowler will take place in an ancient but modern ceremony at the annual Civic Service at Holy Trinity at 2pm on Sunday 9th June. Everyone is welcome to this unusual, brilliant and historic occasion. The Town Council will be serving refreshments afterwards in the Trinity Centre.

Cllr Simon Ward, leader of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council, writes:

‘At the Annual Meeting of Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council on Tuesday 21 May 2024, The Rt. Hon. the Lord Fowler of Sutton Coldfield was appointed High Steward of The Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield.  This prestigious title has been bestowed on distinguished servants of the Royal Town for nearly 500years. 

It was announced that, on the recommendation of the Mayor, Cllr John Perks and the Leader of the Council, Cllr Simon Ward, the ceremonial role of High Steward has been resurrected and The Rt. Hon. the Lord Fowler be appointed by the Town Council to the honorary role.

Having served as MP for the Royal Town for over twenty-seven years, from1974 – 200, 1 when he provided exemplary representation for his constituents, his appointment is in recognition of his distinguished public service. Lord Fowler served in Cabinet roles as Secretaries of State for Transport, Health and Social Security and Employment and is highly regarded for his campaigning work around equal rights.

The position of High Steward was originally granted to the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield by King Henry VIII in 1578, under the Royal Charter which also formed the first Town Council for the Royal Town.

The last High Steward, Lord Leigh was appointed in 1951 and the role was suspended when the Borough Council of Sutton Coldfield was disbanded and Sutton Coldfield became part of the metropolitan district of Birmingham.

In 2028, the five-hundred-year anniversary of the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield brings with it a significant opportunity to celebrate the rich history and heritage of Sutton Coldfield. The office of High Steward is a key part of Sutton Coldfield’s history and as such, re-establishing this honorary office, which is the highest honorary office that can be granted by- the Town Council, creates the opportunity to recognise and mark the service and contribution of an individual to the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield.

Cllr Simon Ward said: “I am delighted to confirm the reinstatement of the role of High Steward. Lord Fowler’s appointment marks a significant milestone in the history of our Royal Town and celebrates the legacy of this honorary position. The Rt. Hon. the Lord Fowler did a tremendous job in serving the residents of Sutton Coldfield for 27 years and is truly deserving of this prestigious title. I am thrilled, along with my fellow Councillors to welcome Lord Fowler to his new appointment. “

Lord Fowler’s inauguration as High Steward will take place as part of the Civic Sunday Service taking place at 2pm on Sunday 9thJune 2024 at Holy Trinity (CE) Church, Mill Street, Sutton Coldfield. The service is open to the community, please contact the Town Council office at enquiries@suttoncoldfieldtowncouncil.gov.uk to get further details or RSVP.’

In the Commons


Israel and Gaza

On Monday, I made a statement to the House of Commons on Israel and Gaza, followed by 44 questions from colleagues across the House.

You can watch it here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/dd5aed19-c65f-4bf2-8a37-dcaad209b4cd?in=16:03:19




On Monday I also gave a statement to the House on Ukraine, updating my colleagues on the war and the UK’s support for Ukraine.

If you would like to, you can watch it here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/dd5aed19-c65f-4bf2-8a37-dcaad209b4cd?in=17:47:14



Business and Trade Select Committee

On Tuesday I was questioned by the Business and Trade Select Committee on UK arms exports to Israel, alongside my Foreign Office ministerial colleagues.

You can watch the session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH-taLi_w64

Further information

Civic Service


the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield's Civic Service to be held at Holy Trinity (CE) Church, Church Hill, Mill Street, Sutton Coldfield, B72 1TF at 2.00pm on Sunday 9th June 2024.


The annual service welcomes our civic guests and those who represent the many public and voluntary organisations within our town. The service provides a visible reminder of the important roles in our society which ensure our safety, well-being and public services. This year, we have moved the service to the afternoon to enable a greater number of our community to attend.


Get involved with UK Parliament Week this November


Over 2,000 organisations all over the country have already signed up for this year’s UK Parliament Week (18-24 November)!

Join in to explore UK Parliament. Find out what happens at Parliament and learn how your group can get involved. Sign up today to get your free kit!



Community games


I am looking forward to the Royal Town’s Community Games this summer, a jewel in our crown since 2012 and something very special that we all really enjoy. It is a great afternoon promoting health and happiness and something that I participate in every year with our annual tug-of-war challenge, a highlight in the Royal Town’s calendar!

Above: the tug-of-war at the community games between the town’s elected politicians and the youth of Sutton Coldfield. It will be held on Saturday this year.

Breast Friends, Make Up Workshops

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

Highbury Theatre

Civic Society Summer programme

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