Our COVID rates of over 880 per 100,000 people are staggering, higher than anything we have experienced during the previous 17 months.
This third wave of infection is, in the main, affecting children and young people, but it is also catching out those who have not had their vaccines. Hospitals are reporting cases of very sick people in their late twenties and thirties.
Across the West Midlands 77,000 people have experienced long-COVID and over 40 people a week are looking for help to recover from COVID months after they were infected.
Vaccines are vital, so please get both of your jabs, but even more importantly, keep doing the right thing to avoid transmission of this invisible virus. The simple acts of keeping your distance, hands, face, space and fresh air, alongside regular tests will help to keep us all safe.
Because of the seriousness of the situation, my Director of Public Health has assured me she will use her powers under Section 3 of the Health Protection Regulations, that came into force in July 2020, to deal with any businesses, events or other activities that are an imminent threat to public health.
Whilst COVID legal restrictions are gone, the threat to the health and wellbeing of Solihull residents remains. I will support our Public Health team in taking any action necessary to stop the further spread of the virus by irresponsible businesses, promoters or even community groups. COVID is going to be a feature of our world for a long time to come, and we need to adjust to this in our behaviour.
Everyone must play their part to stop the virus spreading.
Following Monday’s end to most COVID restrictions on the economy, alongside the “stick” of taking legal action against those imperilling health and wellbeing, we want to encourage businesses to do the right thing and to sign up to our Business Pledge. Even though it is no longer law to wear masks or social distance any more, many businesses and hospitality venues are choosing to ask customers to continue to follow this advice.
This is not only to protect staff and customers but also to allow businesses to operate. Outbreaks mean more and more staff have to self-isolate and some businesses are finding it difficult to stay open.
At the Council we have had to suspend our very popular garden waste collections because our contractor has so many staff self-isolating due to COVID outbreaks. We have also postponed again this weekend’s Civic Sunday, an annual event in the Civic Calendar, because of Solihull’s rising COVID numbers.
The message is - keep doing the right thing, not only to reduce infections and keep us well, but also to keep the economy moving.
As we prepare for COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow later this year, I was pleased to see our school children are still working hard to reach internationally agreed global goals for tackling climate change.
The work we have done as a council on schools and education in relation to sustainability has been cutting-edge. Children like Juliet and Rufus and staff like Mrs Fisher at St Patrick’s CE Primary Academy are, as my colleague Cllr Mackiewicz says, teaching us how to make a better world. Find out more here.
HS2 has awarded Solihull £2.435million as part of its HS2 Road Safety Fund. We now need local residents to share their views and help us prioritise where and how this money should be used. This fund will provide communities living along the HS2 rail line with a lasting range of road safety enhancements to the roads impacted by the delivery of HS2 between now and 2026.
Another consultation we have started is on the future of Solihull Station. We recently shared some new illustrative plans and now we want your views on the new designs for the station. Transforming Solihull Station into a modern transport hub is an important project for the future, helping to deliver our ambitions for the town centre.
The designs for the wholesale redevelopment are both sustainable and ambitious, rejuvenating the station and creating a new gateway into the town centre.
Finally, next week – Wednesday 28 July – will be exactly 12 months until the start of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Look out for Perry - the Commonwealth Games mascot – in Solihull Town Centre at lunchtime and Chelmsley Wood in the afternoon as we mark one year to go!
The NEC, which is of course in Solihull, is one of the key venues for the Games. It is on our doorstep, offering the chance to see world class athletes and also opportunities for invaluable work experience too.
Currently you can take advantage of a priority ticket ballot for West Midlands residents. This means getting access to tickets before they go on general sale.
The volunteering experience on offer could kick-start careers or career changes. In Solihull we have lots of support available to help you fill in those all-important application forms, have a look here for details.
There’s also a chance to take part in the big performances at the opening and closing ceremonies. If you’re 16-30 and live in the West Midlands take a look here
But back to our current challenge with COVID, make sure that we keep getting our vaccination totals up, get tested - for you, your family, friends and this wonderful borough of ours. The team at the council is doing everything they can to help us get through these difficult times and they need all the support they can from all of us.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council