With the continuing increase in COVID cases in the borough and the recent floods in and around Dorridge, it seems two challenges that threaten our health and wellbeing and our way of life, are making themselves known.
We’ve had a big hike in COVID rates which are now up to 294 per 100,000 people, and rising, with 637 cases in the last week. This is a real concern as it is causing business disruption, staff absences and disruption in schools.
Getting vaccinated and taking regular tests is vital. We need to stay very vigilant around hands, face, space and fresh air to stop the Delta variant spreading.
As I have said before, climate change is a focus for this Council and for me in particular as I am the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Environmental lead. While the floods in Dorridge and the surrounding area may not be directly attributable to ‘climate change’, they do follow a pattern of more severe weather systems.
Witness what has been happening in the west of Canada and America over the past few days with a heatwave touching 50 Celsius. The floods we experienced in 2018 were a one in one hundred years’ occurrence and the flooding on Friday was also unprecedented. We have no record of this area being affected to this extent in the past.
Early indications are that the rate of rainfall, simply created too much surface water in a small area which had to go somewhere. In just one hour 65mm of rain was recorded to have fallen – and at one point it reached 165mm per hour - whereas the average for the whole month of June for Dorridge is 80mm.
I went to the area on Saturday to see for myself what had happened and spoke to residents who had been affected. It was terrifying to hear what people had gone through as the water poured through their houses and the challenges they now face recovering from this incident. My heart goes out to those affected.
I am pleased the emergency services and our Council teams were able to respond on Friday evening. The welfare of residents is paramount and we have stepped in with offers of alternative accommodation where appropriate.
However, I recognise many of those affected will need support over the coming weeks and months, which is why our Council teams have been speaking to all of those who have told us that they have been affected by the flooding to offer advice and support.
We now know nearly 300 properties were affected and expect this number might still rise. If you or someone you know has been affected, then please get in touch with us on 0121 704 8004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re now helping residents with their recovery and clear-up. Our waste disposal teams will be out and about over the coming days to take away flood damaged items.
In my last message I mentioned the race to get every adult vaccinated as one of the ways we can ensure a swifter return to some sense of normality. Working with our health colleagues we are trying to accelerate vaccine uptake, encouraging anyone who hasn’t had a jab to get one now and make sure they have their second dose too.
Alongside the normal route where you can book your own jab or wait for your GP to offer you one, we now have a walk-in (no appointment needed) vaccine centre open tomorrow, Friday 2 July, at Chelmsley Wood Primary Care Centre, 16 Crabtree Drive, B37 5BU, from 9am until 5pm.
They will be offering the Pfizer vaccine which means anyone aged 18 or over can attend. You can also find other walk-in vaccination sites in Birmingham here.
Finally, my colleague Cllr Joe Tildesley has informed me that he wishes to stand down from his Cabinet role leading on Leisure, Tourism and Sport with immediate effect for personal health reasons and I have reluctantly accepted his resignation. He will of course be continuing his other Council responsibilities within the St. Alphege Ward.
I am really sorry to lose Joe from my Cabinet team, but his health and wellbeing is the most important consideration. I wish to thank him personally for all his support to me and his hard work on his portfolio.
I have asked my Deputy, Cllr Karen Grinsell to pick up the portfolio for the time-being with her other duties.
Do the right thing for Solihull – get vaccinated for you, your family, friends and this wonderful borough of ours.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council