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


As the days draw shorter and the cold weather begins to bite, I wanted to begin this week’s message by highlighting free health checks that are available across the borough. My colleague Cllr Dicicco recently visited one of our blood pressure monitors, and you can read more about that here. I’m reliably informed they are quick and easy to use. They tell you your height, weight, BMI and blood pressure. Whether you have any health concerns or just want to check for peace of mind, I’d encourage you all to visit one of our four monitors at either the Core Solihull, Shirley Library, Chelmsley Wood Library or Hobs Moat Library and find out your stats.  


I’d also encourage all those who are eligible to get their flu and covid jabs, if they haven’t already. I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone of the dark days of the pandemic and lockdown. I think having a sore arm for a day or so is a small price to pay to know you’re protected against flu and Covid.   


There are an estimated 20,000 unpaid carers in Solihull.  We know that many more adults and young people still don’t identify themselves as carers but say they are simply doing what a parent/daughter/husband/sibling/good neighbour would do.  With Carers Rights Day coming up next week we’re encouraging people of all ages to recognise their vital caring role and come along to the event at the Civic Suite on 22 November to find out about the support available in Solihull. Find out more about the event here.  


Last week the ‘United By Legacy’ charity, which is overseeing the long-term impact of last year’s Commonwealth Games, announced the launch of their Inclusive Communities Fund. The fund provides support for not-for-profit organisations and community events across the West Midlands until March 2025 and is open for applications now. They’ll be running events for the next year, starting with some webinars next week. You can find out more about that here. 


Earlier this week, I visited Evac+Chair and saw their work first-hand. They make chairs that help people who need extra support to quickly evacuate a building. It was great to hear more about their plans, including their recent move to Blythe Valley Park. I was also able to try one of their chairs out, getting a good sense of how quickly they’re able to travel up and down stairs. As with my recent visit to Norton Motorcycles, it was a great opportunity to see the fantastic work being done by a local business. I always enjoy my visits, which help us as a Council understand what’s going on in the borough and help businesses see how their work can often dovetail nicely with Council plans.  

You can find out more about Evac+Chair on their website.  

Amongst the legislative programme set out in the King’s Speech earlier this month, I was particularly pleased to see Government’s Automated Vehicles Bill. Not only is our region a key player in this emerging sector, with our wealth of automotive and advance manufacturing expertise, but here in Solihull we are already playing a leading role. We have successfully demonstrated how it is possible to safely and practically incorporate this technology into our existing transport infrastructure, through our own pioneering passenger trials. Done properly, Connected Automated Vehicles (CAV) have the potential revolutionise the way we get around our towns, cities and rural areas.  This new Bill will help provide the sector with the certainty and confidence it needs to really kickstart serious development and investment in this emerging technology.  Building on our own successful pathfinder trials we are now taking the next step and undertaking the vital feasibility work necessary to start thinking about more ambitious deployments and establishing new commercial public transport services. The outcomes from these studies are likely to inform self-driving mobility challenges not just here in Solihull but nationwide.  

I’d like to offer my congratulations to local primary schools who were recent winners at the Greener School awards. Three levels of awards were given to six years, in recognition of their environmental and sustainable work. Unlike when I was at school, we’re all aware of the importance of sustainability, and it’s great to see that local schools are passing on that message to the next generation.  


Congratulations are also in order for my colleague Saqib Bhatti, MP for Meriden. Saqib is now a Minister at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job there. I know he, like me is passionate about innovating where we can and using new technology to drive things forward and I’m sure our cutting-edge work on CAVs will be of interest to him.  


Finally, like many people I marked Armistice Day by attending Remembrance Sunday events. I won’t repeat all my thoughts from last week, but wanted to again reflect on the sacrifice and service of so many in conflicts over the years, decades and centuries. The events, as they always do, help us to remember and reflect and it was good to see services held right across the the borough.  


Thanks, and have a good weekend,   

Councillor Ian Courts