08 December – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


Winter is well and truly upon us; I’ve seen some very beautiful frosty mornings this week but the sharp drop in temperatures naturally brings challenges as well. The West Midlands is officially under a Level 3 Cold Weather Alert, issued by the Met Office in conjunction with UKHSA. With heating costs at their current level, it will be a difficult winter for many. We have some useful information in our ‘Here2Help this winter’ booklet. 

We have also arranged two open days for residents to get information and advice on the support available to them for cost of living pressures.

•            Friday 9 December, 10.00am to 2.00pm at The Core

•            Tuesday 13 December, 9.30am to 1.00pm at Chelmsley Wood Library

Both events will have staff from local and national organisations offering free and confidential advice and support on a range of topics, including energy and fuel, finance, work, housing, and mental health.

 If there is anyone you know who might be at particular risk from the cold, for example, an older person living on their own, make sure they know what to do to stay warm and are well stocked with food and medications. If you are worried about your health or that of somebody you know, ring NHS 111.

Today marks the second anniversary of the first ever Covid-19 vaccine delivered to a member of the public. Just down the road in Coventry, 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the historic first patient on December 8 2020. Vaccines have been crucial in getting us back to our normal lives, but Covid continues to put pressure on the NHS and make people seriously ill. You can protect yourselves and your loved ones by getting a top-up Covid vaccine and the flu jab. Check your eligibility and find out more here and read the comments of my colleague and Deputy, Councillor Karen Grinsell, here.

On Monday the Council will be holding a webinar to give information and gather feedback on our plans for several new Family Hubs across the borough. Family Hubs will be one-stop shops for family services from the Council, NHS, and local charities. There will be a presentation to give an overview as well as a chance for people to ask questions and give their thoughts and suggestions relating to the plans.

We’re also inviting residents to give us their feedback on our refreshed suicide prevention strategy for Solihull. It describes Solihull’s ambitions to reduce the number of suicides in Solihull and to prevent loss of life to suicide in Solihull.  The strategy acknowledges the profound impact suicide has on individuals, families, and communities. The aim is to drive targeted action by residents, local organisations and community groups in partnership with the Council and NHS as we work together to prevent suicide. Please click here to see the strategy and give your feedback.

Earlier Today I had the pleasure of attending the celebration event for the Lord Bhattacharyya Engineering Education Programme at the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick. The programme provides funding and support to a network of 25 schools and colleges across the West Midlands which enables them to undertake exciting projects in STEM fields. I was able to meet many students from across the region and they told me about the wonderful and innovative work they’ve been doing, including some of the very deserving recipients of £15,000 bursaries designed to enable them to continue their studies.

It was so inspiring to see the passion for innovation and development that these young people showed through their work. We have a proud record of encouraging businesses in these fields to set up in Solihull and these young people will be amongst the next generation of leaders. I hope to see many of them in future as they work for and start their own businesses in the region, bringing investment, jobs and sustainable growth.

Meeting inspiring young people is one of the most rewarding parts of my role as Leader of the Council, and sometimes it happens in unexpected places.  I was at the Dorridge lights switch on last week and bumped into a young man, Troy, and his friends Olivia and Charlotte who are sixth form students at Arden Academy. I don’t normally share fundraising requests in this forum, but their passion for conservation (and initiative - they made some great cakes for sale) has convinced me to make an exception and mention their fundraising efforts to enable them to undertake a wonderful expedition in Croatia to record local flora and fauna as part of Operation Wallacea. You can read more about the work they intend to do and donate here.

Finally, I was delighted to see that children from Monkspath School have been working with the Council and our contractors to further improve Hillfield Park’s main pond with some planting. It is really encouraging to see such young children eager to get involved and gaining an understanding of how to protect and support the environment. Their work is part of a wider project which will help to ensure that local wildlife flourishes and I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits of everyone’s work when the project is completed. You can read more about it here.

Have a good weekend,

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council