1 June 2022 – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


The Queen’s 70-year reign is a remarkable achievement.  She has ruled longer than any monarch in Britain’s history, through a period of incredible change. 

At her coronation in 1953 Britain was a very different country. Tommy Taylor became the UK’s most expensive footballer in an eye watering £29,999 transfer fee from Barnsley to Manchester United. 

The double helix structure of DNA was announced by Crick and Watson, Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel, was published, while post-war sugar and sweet rationing came to an end and Mount Everest was conquered by a British expedition led by Edmund Hilary.

Today, footballers are sold for the equivalent of some country’s GDP; manipulating, splicing or sequencing DNA is a commonplace occurrence and there seem to be plenty of sweets and sugar around.

I think the technological change that most makes 1953 feel like ‘another country’ altogether is the humble phone.  70 years ago there were telephone exchanges staffed by telephone operators who would put you through to the person you want to speak to.

Today our smart phones include all our contacts, stored in the ‘cloud’, a camera, a diary, a calculator and word processor, they can pinpoint where we are on the globe via GPS (as long as you can get a signal!) and more and more people are using them to pay for goods and services.  Imagine taking an iPhone 11 back to someone in 1953, it would seem like magic to them! 

The extended Jubilee bank holiday this week is a fantastic opportunity for us all to celebrate her majesty’s 70-year reign and her incredibly successful role as our head of state. It is also a chance to reflect on how far we have come during her reign.

In Solihull you can kick-off the weekend’s celebrations at Elmdon Park at 9.45pm on Thursday 2 June for a Beacon Lighting event.  Prior to the beacon being lit there is a church service at Elmdon Church at 7.45pm, followed by refreshments.  (Please be aware parking is limited in the area, so do think about your journey to the park or church).

On Saturday 4 June head to Solihull town centre where Solihull BID has lots to keep you entertained.  Finish off the weekend at Castle Bromwich Historic Gardens with their Jubilee Cream Tea Party on Sunday 5 June, 1 - 4pm. Full details of these events can be found here.

With so many Street Parties and Garden Parties being held over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend, we have decided to suspend our parking enforcement service in residential areas where single yellow line parking restrictions apply. And there is also general information about changes to opening hours over the Bank Holiday.

I’ve talked in previous messages about the exciting work we are doing with our electric self-driving shuttle and how we have been carrying out a series of passenger trials.  So I was really pleased to hear that the project won an award from the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning & Transport (ADEPT).

At ADEPT’s Spring Conference last week, the annual President’s Awards recognised a wide range of collaborative and innovative projects from across the country.  Colin Maltby our project manager was there to pick up our award in the ‘Delivering Clean Growth’ category, which was presented by Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport.

The judges were fulsome in their praise and saw this innovative project was leading the way providing real world evidence on how self-driving vehicles can work in different settings and scenarios.

The trials are providing evidence for the commercial viability of replacing highly polluting single occupancy vehicles with new forms of future-proofed, low-carbon mass transport systems on our current road network. We are grateful for the support and funding from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Enterprise Partnership which has made this innovative project possible.

I’m convinced this autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to revolutionise in due course the way we get around our towns, cities and rural areas.  It could also be the future of transporting goods. This project is all about looking at how, in the future, we can practically and safely start to incorporate autonomous vehicles on our existing road network.

Well done team. This work is building our reputation for innovation around climate change solutions and is putting Solihull on the map.

Finally, I hope everyone enjoys this long bank holiday weekend and joins in her Majesty’s Jubilee celebrations.

Take care and have a great weekend.

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council