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


We pride ourselves on being a Council and borough that is small enough to care, but big enough to make a difference.

However, I recognise it is you, your communities and our wonderful voluntary and community sector partners that really make the difference and make Solihull the place it is.

That is why I am confident our new fostering campaign – Foster for Solihull - will bear fruit. We need more people to come forward and join our current foster carers and offer more of our children in care a safe, supportive family environment.

I know we are asking people to make a life changing decision, but a decision that will make an incredible difference to a child’s life.  If you are at all interested in being that person (yes individuals can foster) or that family please head over to our new Foster for Solihull website here.

Take a look and see what a difference you can make and how we can support you every step of the way.  Also, hear directly from our current foster carers just how much they get out of supporting children and being part of our fostering family.

The recent news about Arden Cross Ltd signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with both University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) and the University of Warwick to look at the potential to create a new Medical & Technology Campus at the Solihull HS2 Interchange Station site reinforces what this area of the borough could bring to Solihull. 

It could deliver world-beating innovation in healthcare and make Solihull a world leader in this growing sector.  It is early days, but none-the-less it demonstrates the potential of this development for transformative growth and bringing high tech jobs to Solihull. HS2 is already delivering on economic growth locally through the 6,838 people they employ in the West Midlands, the 540 people who have been helped into work from unemployment and the investment in local skills through the 950 new apprentices and T-Levels. I am pressing the case for an investment zone in the area and this designation would support our long-held desire to make the best use of the land around the new HS2 station, deliver top quality design and the necessary green infrastructure, as well as helping us relieve the pressure on other areas of our green belt in Solihull.

Last week I mentioned the jobs fair over in Birmingham, and now I want to focus on those thinking about what they want to do after leaving school and suggest they get over to Solihull’s Apprenticeship Show.

Taking place at Cranmore Conference Centre this Wednesday, 12 October from 3.30pm – 7.30pm, the event will showcase all types of apprenticeships, including those that offer an alternative career route to university with opportunities up to degree level. 

You will be able to speak to employers and training providers from a range of sectors such as construction, creative, law, logistics and health care.  Exhibitors include Jaguar Land Rover, NEC Group, Solihull College & University Centre, Taylor Wimpey and West Midlands Police. Also current apprentices will be on hand to share their experiences and answer any questions.

The event is free to attend and there is no need to book; however, to make the registration process quicker on the day please pre-register by completing this short online form.

Creating a high paid, high skilled economy relies on our young people taking up the academic and more practical opportunities an apprenticeship can present.  So, please do get along and take the first step in your career.

October is Black History Month (BHM) - an annual event to celebrate and raise awareness of the contributions of African, Asian and Caribbean people to British society, amongst others. This year’s national BHM theme is ‘Time for Change: Action not Words’.

It’s an opportunity for the Council to show its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.  With a population that is becoming more diverse this work is vital so that we can continue to deliver effective services to the whole community that live and work in our borough.  There is more information about Black History Month and how you can get involved here.

Today (Monday 10 October) is World Mental Health Day.  It’s an opportunity to talk about mental health, how we need to look after it and get help if we are struggling.  Since April around 150 Solihull residents have benefitted from a Council commissioned mental health drop-in service.  Sessions take place at three venues across the borough so wherever you live, support is at hand. You can find out more about the drop-in service here.

It is also World Homeless Day and from 11am – 2pm today, we’re holding a free drop-in session with homeless advice organisations at The Core Library. Organised by the Council’s Rough Sleeper Coordinator, there will be a range of organisations that the Council works with who can give advice and assistance if you are homeless or know who somebody is.

This month also sees the start of a new Rough Sleeper Outreach Team which will build on existing outreach work by targeting new hotspots of homelessness and rough sleeping in the borough. You can find out more about both the event and the new team here.

Finally, I was intrigued to see Solihull has the highest proportion of Electric Vehicle (EV) ownership anywhere in the Midlands*, with over 9,500 already registered across the borough.

As an electric car driver now, I’ve obviously added to those figures and so was glad to see we do have an ambitious new EV Action Plan. This identifies how we can encourage and support the switch to electric vehicles as road traffic currently accounts for nearly 40% of the borough’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. 

Have a good week everyone.

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council

*According to data from the Department for Transport