19 November 2021 – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


Following my bout of COVID, I am starting to put it behind me and I have to put down my very mild symptoms and rapid recovery to my vaccinations.

I was pleased to receive an email full of praise for the staff and volunteers on duty at the mobile vaccine walk-in clinic in Mell Square at the weekend.   This satisfied resident was happy to be able to get a booster without waiting for the GP to call and wanted me to pass on thanks for the service and how well it was being run.

Last weekend was an incredible success for the team, 1,225 people got their jabs over the two days. That’s one person getting a jab every 40 seconds! Well done to everyone involved. Our public health team is working closely with our NHS colleagues to improve vaccination provision across the borough.

In other news, we have more than 27,000 carers in the borough, providing unpaid support to a family member or friend because of illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or addiction.  Next Thursday 25 November is Carers Rights Day, an annual event which raises awareness of the needs of carers and ensures carers are aware of their rights and where to get help and support. 

To coincide with this Carers Trust Solihull is holding an information event on Wednesday 24 November from 4:30pm – 7pm at Solihull Moors Football Club.  I encourage anyone who is providing unpaid support to a family member or friend to find out more and go along if you can.

While we are still chewing the bones of COP26 I was happy to hear that our work on introducing smart meters into our schools and academies is attracting national attention.

Yesterday one of our Property Services team was extolling the virtues of closely monitoring your energy consumption and reducing waste at the Schools and Academies show at the NEC alongside the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Solihull’s Property Services team has led the way in this work helping schools save money and using the smart meter data to drive pupils’ engagement and behaviour change.  The team has created several lesson plans which teach children the impact of energy consumption.

Even better, in most of the schools, the pupils have taken charge of the energy awareness campaign, monitored the usage, identified waste and put in place energy saving actions.

This is young people getting practical experience of leading us on our journey to net zero carbon - fabulous work and I commend the team for their efforts.  It’s especially pleasing that this presentation is showing the UK’s educationalists and government what Solihull is achieving.

I’ve mentioned before the idea of a “circular economy”, where we reuse and repurpose resources and the recent Sustainable Shirley fashion event, which we held in partnership with Solihull College & University Centre, demonstrated how clothing can be recycled, repurposed and still be ‘fashionable’. 

Fast fashion has led to incredible amounts of waste and pollution.  It is estimated the industry pushes out 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year, more emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined! And a 2021 report from the World Economic Forum identified fashion, and its supply chain, as the planet’s third largest polluter (after food and construction), releasing 5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Anything we can do to wean ourselves off this unsustainable consumption is to be applauded.  Well done to all the students that took part, I understand from colleagues that the event was really successful and the outfits on show could have graced any catwalk.

Last but definitely not least, I would just like to thank everyone who attended last weekend’s Remembrance Service, either in person or virtually, for making it a very special occasion. This national day of commemoration remains a moving testament to those who have lost their lives for this country.  I would like to thank the organisers across the borough for their efforts in allowing us to gather in our local communities and pay tribute to the fallen. 

Remember your best defence against COVID and flu is to: get vaccinated, including getting a booster // wear face coverings in crowded spaces, on public transport and in badly ventilated spaces // use hybrid working wherever possible.

And hands, face, space works for COVID, flu and all the other winter viruses.

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council