10 March 2023 – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


The wintry weather I mentioned in my last message certainly arrived as promised. I’ve seen some beautiful pictures of snowy scenes from around Solihull in the last few days, but the snow has of course been disruptive as well as picturesque. I’m aware that many residents have had missed bin collections today and yesterday, and many schools throughout the borough have been closed due to the inclement conditions. I’m sorry for those of you who’ve been inconvenienced by this, but these decisions are not taken lightly and ultimately, everyone’s safety has to come first. Our hard-working waste and recycling crews were out yesterday catching up routes that were missed and will be collecting additional waste at the next collection. Thank you to everyone for your understanding.

Wednesday was International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated as it is every year on March 8. It forms part of Women’s History Month which takes place throughout the month.

The two key themes this year seek to raise the profile, rights, and importance of gender equality for women and girls - ‘Ending the Digital Divide for Women’ and Embrace Equity’

The Core Theatre and Library are holding a couple of events this month to mark IWD and the wider history month:

  • On Saturday 11 March, the Core Theatre will be showcasing the hit comedy tour Ladies of Laughter for one time only
  • Do your children love drawing? There's great opportunity on Saturday afternoon on March 18 at the Courtyard Gallery in the Core for children and young people to create a beautiful Mother’s Day portrait

No Smoking Day also fell on Wednesday 8 March this year. The theme for 2023 was ‘stopping smoking improves your brain health’. Increased risk of dementia is, of course, only one of many health risks associated with smoking. Smoking is bad for you, those around you, and places a huge burden on our NHS. If you want help to quit, then resources are available here.

6-12 March marks Food Waste Action Week. 4.5 million tonnes of food waste is thrown away in the UK each year. The total cost to UK households of this waste is around £3.5 billion. The love food hate waste website has a useful quiz you can do that provides tips on how to reduce the amount of food that you buy but don’t eat. The impact of this goes further than just money - decaying food that goes to landfill is extremely harmful to the environment as it releases a lot of methane. This is something we can all act on together and make a difference. The quiz only takes a few minutes, so give it a go and see how much you could help your budget and our environment.

As I’ve mentioned previously, this year's Great British Spring Clean runs from 17 March to 2 April. It aims to bring together residents, community groups, businesses, schools, and colleges to make a difference to the local environment by removing litter. It’s easy to get involved. You can make a pledge via the Keep Britain Tidy website or join one off or regular organised litter picks across the borough supported by Solihull Council’s environmental campaign, Love Solihull. See Love Solihull Litter Picking Initiative for more details.

Continuing on an environmental theme, our contract partner Veolia has made £10k available to the borough’s local community groups and clubs. The Community Improvement Fund is aimed at groups who are looking to improve their local areas and constituted groups and clubs in Solihull can apply for up to £1,000. But the deadline is 27 March so please hurry. For more information click here.

With the Easter holidays not far away, I wanted to mention that the Solihull Holiday Activities and Food programme (HAF) will be running again. The scheme provides free activities and a healthy meal for school age children who receive benefits-related free school meals. We have continued to work closely with a range of existing and new providers, resulting in a wide range of fun activities which include dedicated sessions for children with additional needs. Eligible families should have received an email with information on available activities and details of how to book activities. If you have any queries, please email the HAF team via hafinfo@solihull.gov.uk  

The Here2Help Live events that took place in December proved to be very useful, so we’re running two more events later this month - Wednesday 22 March, 10am – 2pm at The Junction, 100 Chapelhouse Road in Fordbridge and Friday 24 March, 10am – 2pm at The Core, Homer Road, Solihull town centre. Do make a note of these dates, more details will be available soon.

Next week’s message will be the last until after the upcoming local elections in May. The elections will be the first to require voters to bring photographic ID with them in order to vote. You can find out more about the change, as well as how to apply for free ID if you don’t already have one of the accepted forms, by clicking here.

Have a good weekend,

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council