Happy New Year – I do hope everyone was able to take some time off and relax over the holidays before ‘hitting the ground running’ in 2023.
The new year often brings a sense of optimism, looking forward to the changes and developments the next twelve months and years to follow will bring. That all may sound tricky at the moment when you listen to the news, but I am pleased that the Council has started this year by looking to the future and launching a 6-week consultation on a refreshed version of our borough-wide transport strategy and delivery plan. We’re already one of the best connected destinations in Europe, but I have been keen that we revisit this strategy, to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the potential for significant new investment in our transport network.
Solihull Connected 2023 repositions the Council’s approach to transport over the next decade, setting out its vision for a multi-modal transport system that accesses all parts of the borough, supports the economy, is safe to use and makes the borough healthier and fairer for communities, businesses, and visitors. The current transport network in Solihull is predominantly focused towards providing access to Birmingham City centre and, whilst that remains important, Solihull Connected 2023 seeks also to provide a system that links people to jobs and enhances the economy of Solihull. We know that different parts of the borough have distinctive needs and so this strategy contains recommendations tailored for six separate sub-areas. A key priority for me, and one that is reflected in Solihull Connected 2023, is a better focus on improving north/south connections, for example between the north of the borough and Solihull town centre.
Delivered properly, this strategy has the potential to help revitalise our local town centres, provide access to areas of new housing, enhance our natural environment, improve air quality, and tackle climate emissions, all while lifting life chances in our most disadvantaged communities by improving access to jobs, education, and housing.
A series of information sessions will be held across the borough for residents to find out more, discuss the strategy with members of the transport team and share their thoughts. These sessions will be held at:
• Chelmsley Wood Library / Monday 16 Jan / 09:30 - 13:00
• Knowle Library / Thursday 19 Jan / 09:30 - 13:00
• The Core Library / Friday 27 Jan / 11:00 - 15:00
• Balsall Common Library / Monday 30 Jan / 14:00 - 17:00
• Olton Library / Tuesday 14 Feb / 09:30 - 13:00
To view the draft strategy and take part in the consultation visit: https://yourvoicesolihull.uk.engagementhq.com/solihull-connected
One of the most commonly professed New Year’s resolutions is to get a bit more active, and the Council’s new So Go! physical activity campaign, encourages all Solihull residents to ‘be on the move’.
Look out for the social media campaign and outdoor advertising across the borough, highlighting the wide range of activities and ideas to help you on the road to an improved level of fitness. Images of real Solihull people have been used, with all ages, abilities and disabilities showing the way to ‘get active’. If you are a local organisation, group or club, you can increase awareness of your own activities in conjunction with the So Go! campaign, by downloading a new toolkit of resources. Getting fitter is also great for our mental health, find an activity that suits you here www.solihullonthemove.co.uk/SoGo
Next week (Thursday 19 January), colleagues from Public Health will be hosting a webinar to give people the chance to find out more about our new Family Hubs. These will be one-stop shops for families to access services from the Council, NHS, and local charities. I’d encourage you to attend the webinar so you can share your ideas on what services you’d like to see included in the Hubs. You will need to register for your free place here https://bit.ly/3QhtNmM
Regionally we are seeing high levels of people being admitted to our hospitals suffering with severe respiratory illnesses, including flu and COVID. I was most distressed to read just some of the stories of patients who have been hospitalised with flu and to discover that according to the latest data, just last week there were 5,500 patients in hospital with flu and more than 9,000 patients in hospital with COVID across England!
It’s so important that we top up our immunities each winter by having the annual flu jab and our booster COVID jabs as recommended. It is particularly crucial to get the flu vaccination annually, as it is adapted each year to combat different strains of the virus. If you have been invited for a flu vaccine but are yet to take it up, then you should come forward now. To check your eligibility for either of the winter vaccines and to book an appointment or to find opening times for local walk-in clinics please visit: https://www.birminghamandsolihullvaccination.nhs.uk/.
Finally, the New Year offers the chance of a clean slate to many, and Solihull’s libraries are getting fully into the fresh start spirit by running a full amnesty on overdue books, CDs and DVDs throughout January and February. Find out more here.
Have a good rest of the week,
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council