19 January 2023 – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


We’re fortunate in Solihull to have so many residents active and engaged in their communities.  My message this week brings news of plenty of opportunities to get involved, whether through community funding, public consultations that shape services, school competitions or street parties. I do hope that these chances to get involved may inspire even more people to do the same.

Yesterday I attended a Solihull faith action project network event at the Olton Project. The hall was packed with people of all ages from different faiths and backgrounds. They were all keen to work together to build relationships and connections and to see how they can help others in the borough. The mood was overwhelmingly positive.

On the wall was a huge map of Solihull with dozens of post-it notes stuck on it, each with an idea or thought about something that is needed. In that moment I was again reminded of two things – as I have been so often over the years. Firstly - when we come together, there is more that unites us than divides us. And secondly, that there is something very good about helping each other. I look forward to hearing how the network develops and how their ideas start being put into practice with support from council officers.

The Council’s waste and recycling partners Veolia are offering money to local groups and organisations for environmental projects. They’ve created a funding pot of £10k for things like planting wildflowers, clearing paths, community upcycling and creating sustainable gardens in public spaces. It’s not match-funding so groups don’t need to have anything in their kitty, just ideas and a desire to improve their area. You can find out more here.

We’re working with partners from the Integrated Care System to create a consistent vision to support people with learning disabilities and autistic people of all ages. We want to involve a wider group of people, including professionals, business/organisations, people with lived experience and parents/carers to help finalise our visions and shape our delivery plans in Birmingham and Solihull.  You can do this by taking part in the online survey, joining us at one of the engagement events in Solihull or, from next week, completing a paper survey at your local library.  All the details are on the Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board website.

I want to remind community groups across the borough that the deadline is approaching to bid for part of £400,000 funding to improve their local neighbourhoods.

This funding is from the Community Infrastructure Levy, which is money collected from new developments as part of the normal planning process in 2021/22. Bids for funds must be submitted by Friday 3 February and can be applied for in 10 of the 17 wards in Solihull.

If your community group is looking for funds to improve your local neighbourhood, please have a look at the information and put in a bid.

Some new rules have been introduced around voting that will be in place during the upcoming local elections this May. You’ll need photo ID to vote in person, so if you don’t have a valid driving licence, passport or other photo ID then please take the time to apply for a free Voter Authority Certificate. You can find out more and apply here.

In March I’ll have the pleasure of being one of the judges in the Soroptomist’s Solihull Secondary Schools Public Speaking Competition. This excellent event helps to build confidence and brings pupils together from across the borough. I’m sure there are a few teachers reading this, and all the secondary schools in the borough should have received an invitation to enter. I’d urge you to put young people forward for this, especially if you’re teaching at a school that hasn’t entered before. Applications have to be submitted by Wednesday 11 February and there will be a limit on the number of entrants, but it would be good to see as many as possible come forward. For more information please contact sisolihull@yahoo.co.uk 

Finally, May will see the Coronation of King Charles III and there is an extra Bank Holiday to celebrate the event. If you’re thinking of holding a traditional street party, don’t forget you need to apply for permission. The deadline is Friday 24 March, so there’s plenty of time to get your applications in. The council’s street parties webpage also has some great tips to help you celebrate safely. You can find out more here.

Have a good weekend,

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council