If you’re in Solihull town centre this weekend and passing through Mell Square you’ll be greeted by the somewhat unexpected sight of a large whale called Moby. Don’t worry, it hasn’t swum up the River Blythe, it’s been brought there by Solihull BID to provide an excellent summer holiday activity. ‘A Whale’s Tale’ (pun very much intended) is an interactive adventure that helps to teach children about the importance of protecting our oceans. The attraction has proved very popular, but there’s still some spaces to see the show inside the whale that can be booked on the day, and plenty of other things going on around Moby to keep the children interested. There’s a marine life trail, facepainters, eco-glitter, a vintage bus and free storytime sessions provided by The Core Library.
I’m a little outside the target age group for Moby so probably won’t be venturing in myself, but I’m pleased that young people will be learning about the importance of keeping our oceans clean and safe for the enormous variety of life they support, including, of course, ourselves. Once you’ve seen all that Moby and his marine compatriots have to offer you can head over to The Core Library, as it’s not too late to sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge I mentioned last week.
Sticking to the theme of protecting habitats, I was pleased to see the government’s announcement of over £9 million of funding to enable the rollout of their Biodiversity Net Gain plan.
The plan was introduced through the environment act and is a key part of their commitment to halt species decline by 2030. Many housing developers are already successfully operating in a way that supports Biodiversity Net Gain, recognising the benefits for people and nature. From later this year, it will be mandatory for all major developments to deliver a 10% benefit for nature. What that actually means is laid out here. From our perspective here in Solihull, the funding is likely to be put towards enhancing the already excellent work of our ecology teams in safeguarding and enhancing habitats during the development process.
The timing is particularly welcome given that we passed a motion at our July Council meeting recognizing the importance of Biodiversity to the environment and to the health and wellbeing of our communities and residents. We noted the good work already done, but also set out a number of principles including the importance of the Meriden Gap to regional biodiversity and the integration of Biodiversity into our planning system. You can read the full text of the motion in the agenda papers for the meeting here, and see the recording of that meeting here.
I’ve mentioned in a previous edition of this message that all our meetings are broadcast and available to watch back via this page. Many meetings are open for the public to attend, but this function allows our residents to watch back what we do. If there’s a topic you’re interested in, please do just that. You might find that you agree with and support what we’re doing, or you might find the exact opposite. That’s something I welcome, as all Councillors should. It’s a central function of our democracy, and one for which I’m very grateful.
A welcome update from our friends at West Midlands Police this week, as they have confirmed that following the national police recruitment drive and some other changes, they will be basing emergency response teams in Solihull and Balsall Common. This will allow them to respond to emergencies faster and support their local neighbourhood teams as they tackle antisocial behaviour, shoplifting, vandalism and other crimes that impact residents’ quality of life. They’re also equipping officers with new tech that will allow them to spend less time in the office, and more out on the streets where they can have the biggest impact. You can find out more about policing in your area here.
Finally, if you are in one of our libraries this weekend for the Summer Reading Challenge or for any other reason of course, you can pick up a free bookmark. You may remember I mentioned the Coronation design a bookmark competition in this message a while back, and the winners have now had their creations printed and distributed, so why not pick one up as a souvenir of that historic event?
Thanks, and enjoy your weekend.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council