09 June 2023 – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


This week the Council announced plans to form a new partnership with Birmingham Children’s Trust to help implement our Children’s Services Improvement Plan. It’s no secret that our Children’s Services haven’t been at the standard we’d expect them to be, and it is our number one priority as a council to improve them - and improve them quickly, so that we are doing the best we can for our young people.

The partnership was recommended by Sir Alan Wood, the government appointed commissioner appointed to Solihull, and has now been agreed by Claire Coutinho MP, The Minister for Children, Families and Wellbeing. It will be put forward to a council cabinet meeting next week with the expectation that the partnership will start work on July 1 and run for a period of 3 years. It makes sense to work with our neighbours, as we already share key partners in the police, our Integrated Care Board (NHS), and local family courts. That overlap, along with the close geographical proximity that means many families interact with services on both sides of ‘the border’ through schools, healthcare and other aspects of their lives, should make it easy to work together on this important project.

We haven’t shied away from the need to make changes, indeed our commitment to improve was recognised by Sir Alan in his report. I know our own staff and those from Birmingham will be impatient to get underway and do what they need to do to ensure we reach the standards we expect, and our residents deserve.

This week is Carers Week. To mark the occasion Councillor Gough, cabinet member for Children, Education, and Skills and Councillor Dicicco, cabinet member for Adult Social Care and Health, met with Solihull Carers Trust CEO Brandon Scott-Omenka. They took the opportunity to discuss this year’s Carers Week campaigns and activities, and how they can improve support for carers in the borough all year round.

We know there are many people in Solihull and across the country who have caring roles at home or for family but may not see themselves as carers. Please do take a look at the Solihull Carers Trust website to see what support is available. They organise everything from training courses and practical help to give people breaks from their caring responsibilities, to days out and a get together for local carers. There may be more support than you think, so it’s certainly worth seeing what’s out there. 

I’d like to offer my congratulations to the Council’s Flood Risk Management team for their success at the International Flood and Coast Excellence awards last night. Amongst over 900 entries from all over the world including Africa, New Zealand and North America, the team were awarded the Highly Commended Climate Resilient Places award. They came in second place overall for their responsiveness to the June 2021 floods and the innovative and collaborative Property Flood Resilience project that was brought forward so rapidly. As this news is very much hot off the press, I don’t have many more details just yet, but it’s great to see work that brings huge benefit to our residents being recognised in such a way.

Our first priority with climate change is of course to try to reduce its impact through our comprehensive range of environmental schemes and by embedding an ethos of supporting green growth across our work at the Council. However, where we are already seeing the effects, such as in increased flooding, it’s great that we’ve got excellent teams who can make sure our borough can respond effectively to help our residents.

We’re looking into using new traffic enforcement powers that were granted by the government last year at 4 sites throughout the borough. I won’t pretend that the prospect of more cameras on roads will be popular with everyone, but they can play an incredibly important role. Things like yellow boxes at junctions and ‘no turning’ rules are there for a reason, and that reason is to keep everyone safe. At this stage, we’re only consulting with residents as to whether they’d like to see the new Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology applied at the 4 locations. You can see more details and a list of locations here and find the survey at Your Voice Solihull.

I’ll replace what is fast becoming my customary exhortation to enjoy the sunshine this weekend with a request that you do so with a keen eye on your health and that of those around you. The met office has issued an amber heat health warning for June 9 – 13, so please do be careful and follow the guidelines detailed here.

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council