With over 4.2 million having had their first dose of one of the vaccines, it is great to see the vaccination programme ramping up to delivering over 200,000 jabs a day.
Ruth Tennant, our Director of Public Health has posted a summary of Solihull’s situation. You can read her full message. The new strain of virus is much more transmissible and we have seen the effects of this locally in the infection numbers which are still at peak levels. Sadly, UK deaths are running at record numbers, almost daily.
I have been lobbying hard to get supermarkets to be stricter and more COVID secure, so I must also mention the enforcement action we have recently undertaken against local restaurants offering takeaways. Officers have found two operating without legally required measures in place to make their premises COVID secure. This is so frustrating to see!
I do not claim to be a scientist, but I have to tell you that I remain worried that the virus is being passed in ways, or with an ease, that we may not yet understand. Now more than ever it’s absolutely crucial we reduce contact with others, and keep our distance, especially if we are indoors; use sanitisers much more than ever, for instance after touching things others have touched.
The ‘Germ Defence’ website is an excellent way of finding out how to keep you and your household safe. Home transmission is even more of a problem with the new COVID variant, but it’s not inevitable that you will get COVID if someone you live with is infected if you follow the simple steps Ruth Tennant mentioned in her message.
On Wednesday I attended a ‘Brexit and the Impact on Solihull Businesses’ webinar hosted by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. I found it very informative and would urge businesses across the borough to have a look at the support and advice available.
Our own Solihull for Success website has lots of useful Brexit information and of course there is GOV.UK which has all the details on the new regulations and laws that businesses have to follow to trade outside the UK.
This pandemic continues to be a challenge for our voluntary, community and social enterprise sector groups and organisations. But there are funds still available to help them provide COVID support via the Winter Wellbeing Fund.
Two organisations recently benefiting from the Fund are: Ordinary Magic C.I.C - to provide a variety of mental health support to children and young people in Shirley and Solihull Samaritans who can now continue their services for the next two months.
The Winter Wellbeing Fund was set up in partnership with the Heart of England Community Foundation. It is still offering small grants of up to £5,000 to support ideas and proposals which will contribute to the community response to COVID.
You can find out more about the fund and how to apply. If you would like help with your application or have any questions please contact our community development team or Solihull CAVA or call 0121 312 3717.
Finally, I want to draw your attention to the recently published Prospectus which summarises our ambitious Solihull Town Centre Masterplan and outlines the potential for the future growth of Solihull town centre.
As we start 2021 I’m excited to see the Masterplan take shape. We intend to play an active role, with partners, in creating new opportunities as detailed in the plan.
We will also ensure the economic growth we deliver meets our other key strategic objectives, such as our climate change goals of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2041. You can see the Prospectus and Masterplan.
Please stay at home. Keep doing the right things and help us stop COVID spreading.
Businesses and households, we must all re-double efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council