17 February 2023 – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


First an update on Children’s services

The final meeting of the Improving Outcomes for Children in Solihull Board took place this week, after being in place for the last 12 months. I would like to thank everyone for their time and commitment to this board, which has continually been well attended by colleagues across our safeguarding partnership including police, health, and probation. I would also like to thank Penny Thompson CBE for being our independent chair, bringing her wealth of knowledge and experience to the Board.

While we have achieved a great deal over the last year, we know there is still much to do and collectively as a partnership we are determined to move forward at pace to ensure we are doing the best we can for children in Solihull.

We will have a new Ofsted Improvement Plan and Partnership Improvement Plan so now is the right time for us to move to new governance arrangements. Both plans are being developed as a result of the work that has taken place, the recommendations from our recent inspection and the advice we have received from our Commissioner, Sir Alan Wood.

I will continue to play an active role in overseeing both plans along with my senior colleagues in police and health. Together we will provide support and challenge to our teams delivering these vital services to provide the best possible services to children in Solihull.

We pride ourselves on being a Council that is small enough to care, but big enough to make a difference. We have an outstanding reputation for so many of our areas of service, as well as sustainable economic growth, investment and innovation.  I am determined to make sure we have a similar reputation for our children’s services too. My Cabinet last week agreed to invest over £25 million of additional funding into children’s social care over the next three years, which I hope will be approved by Full Council next week at our budget setting meeting. I hope this gives people confidence that this is a priority for the Council and we are doing all we can to support some of our most vulnerable residents.

I am pleased that Solihull will be one of five areas to run a new pilot supporting businesses to prepare for new recycling regulations. Solihull Council is working with WRAP, a global sustainability charity, and Sustainability West Midlands (SWM) to deliver the pilot, which takes place for 10 weeks between 13 February and 21 April 2023. The pilot will promote the launch of a new Business of Recycling website which will provide a waste calculator tool to help businesses learn how much waste they generate, and how recycling can help save money. It also features step by step guidance to ensure they are compliant with the regulations, and free downloadable communication resources to promote recycling in the workplace. You can read more about the pilot and the upcoming changes here.

The Fairtrade Trail will return to the town centre this weekend. Schools across Solihull have been busy creating handmade sculptures and artwork for this year’s theme of ‘Choose Fairtrade now to save the future of our favourite foods’. To coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, the artwork will be on display from 18 February to 5 March in well-known shops in Solihull Town Centre. The Solihull Fairtrade Trail features a quiz where you’ll need to visit all the school’s artwork to reveal the answers. Take part by downloading the trail map and question sheet here or pick up your copy from the Core Library.

Finally, I had the pleasure of attending the Birmingham International Tattoo at the Resorts World Arena in Solihull last weekend. It was a spectacular occasion, full of the pomp and ceremony that we as a country do so well. We were very proud to see our own Shirley Pipe Band in action as part of such a grand event, as befits their talents. They were great. We also were pleased to see other excellent West Midlands bands and performers. We’re fortunate to have such a great events space in the borough, and I look forward to my next visit there and to next year’s Tattoo.

Have a good weekend,

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council