11 November – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


With the American Mid-Term elections in the news this week I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight and explain some proposals around our own future elections that some people have understandably found confusing.

The revised proposals for local constituencies put forward by the boundary commission would see Castle Bromwich and Smith’s Wood wards become part of the Birmingham Hodge Hill parliamentary constituency. This has no impact on local elections in Solihull wards, nor delivery of services by Solihull Council which will remain the same, and people will vote for their local councillor as they always have. The changes will be seen when people vote in a General Election for an MP.

 The proposed changes are in response to the fact that both Solihull and Meriden constituencies have more electors than are allowed under the guidelines, and this proposal was the one deemed by the boundary commission to have the most merit and support after a consultation. I hope that explanation helps. You can read more about the detail and the reasoning here.

Moving from politics in the West Midlands to politics in the East of Egypt, earlier this week the global climate summit COP27 got underway in Sharm El-Sheikh.

I’ve recorded a special edition of the ‘Courts on Climate Change’ podcast to mark the occasion. Part one is available now. I’m joined by former BBC political reporter Nick Booth and Ann-Marie, who works for the Council as a Low Carbon Project Manager. We discuss the challenges Climate Change poses both locally and globally. We saw terrible flooding in Dorridge last year, followed by a new record temperature in the West Midlands – 38.8C – during summer this year, so we’re already seeing the impact right here where we live.

A key part of the battle against climate change is lowering our carbon emissions, and our Net Zero Action Plan sets out how we will achieve that as a borough. Sustainable development in future is central to that plan, so that is why the £3.2bn development at Arden Cross has sustainability at its heart. Arden Cross Limited (the owner) has announced they will work with Muse Developments to deliver up to 3,000 new homes and 6 million square feet of space for businesses right next to the HS2 Interchange station already under construction. Developments like this on brownfield land, using sustainable construction and in close proximity to public transport, are a key way to deliver those things in a way that also meets the needs of our environment.

Earlier this year, the NHS announced that record numbers of young people were being treated for eating disorders.  It is particularly saddening for me to hear that over 10,000 young people began treatment between April and December last year and I am glad to hear that extra funding put into children’s mental health services is having an impact, and ensuring more people can get the help and support they need. Eating disorders have a huge impact on our young people and their families. The professional support needed is available and I’d urge anyone affected to seek this as early as possible. You can read more about the statistics and the impact of the new funding here.

If you’ve been inspired by the wonderful new John Lewis Christmas advert and feel you may be able to offer a home to those most in need, then please sign up for our Fostering Information Evening next week. The event will take place virtually on Wednesday 16 November, with experienced professionals from our fostering team giving a short presentation before taking any questions you might have. If you’re thinking about fostering but there’s something holding you back, or if you’re just curious, please go to www.fosterforsolihull.co.uk and sign up to hear more about joining the incredible community of foster carers here in Solihull.

The Safer Solihull Partnership (SSP) has issued a Statement of Intent to reduce violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Solihull. This violence, which incorporates domestic abuse, and sexual assault amongst other elements, is often underreported. The SSP are committed to supporting victims and communities affected by VAWG and ensure that work done by the Council, Police, and partner organisations such as charities is linked effectively to drive down the rates at which these appalling crimes are carried out. 

WMCA has secured £16.7m to fund a wide range of free maths courses for adults across the West Midlands. Education isn’t just vital for our children, it’s vital and can be intensely rewarding for everyone. Improving maths skills can help with career prospects and day to day life,  at a time when things like budgeting are so important. These courses will run face to face and online in partnership with councils, colleges, training providers, universities, and employers. It’s brilliant that many Solihull residents will benefit from this new scheme.

This Sunday is of course Remembrance Sunday. I observed the silence earlier today, thinking of all those who have laid down their lives for this country. I know many people will be attending services at churches and war memorials across the borough on Sunday. These services are an important opportunity for our community to pause, reflect, and be thankful to all of those who have died in defence of our country and our way of life.

Have a good weekend,

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council