29 September – Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


It definitely feels like autumn is upon us, with a chill in the air, trees about to turn and thoughts about preparing for the winter.  I hope, if you are one of those who have been contacted about either flu or COVID jabs, you have taken up the offer.  

There is concern amongst epidemiologists that the flu virus could make itself felt in a big way this year.  For the last three years the COVID measures also protected us from flu and so there is little natural immunity within our communities.  And with the rising cases of COVID, it’s sensible to get vaccinated and reduce your risk of ill health.  As I am of an age that makes me eligible for both vaccinations, I’ll certainly be getting mine as soon as I can.

Speaking about health, as someone who had prostate cancer in the past (actually when I was Mayor in 2010), I would urge men and their families to take this disease more seriously.  The pandemic saw a rise of 4,700 deaths due to men not being diagnosed quickly enough.  Over 48,000 men a year are diagnosed but sadly 10,500 die.

I was very glad to have had the ‘problem’ spotted early and treated, I do hope men will take a little time to assess their risks and, if over 50, speak to their GP. Early prostate cancer can have no symptoms, but there are tests that can identify problems that will then be investigated.  If it’s caught early survival rates are very high.  Check your risk here.

While I’m talking about health matters there’s a free Health Information drop-in day at The Core Library, Tuesday 4 October from 11am-2pm.   If you would like to talk about your general health and lifestyle, find local health support or meet different health organisations to learn what they do, then please call in.  Organisations such as the Carers’ Trust, Healthwatch Solihull and the Solihull Prostate Cancer Support Group will be on hand to answer your questions.

Last week, after the announcement of the Investment Zones programme to drive growth across the country, I suggested Arden Cross as the perfect place for such a Zone.

This site and the adjacent Hub area could deliver sustainable economic growth, create jobs and provide the new homes we need. There’s a masterplan for the area and I’m confident it would provide the best solution for Solihull, the region and the UK, avoiding the massive surface car park originally planned by HS2.

This is the best connected place in the UK; with some of the incentives an Investment Zone brings and our strong environmental credentials, we could deliver a world-class development, optimizing on the arrival of high speed rail and the use of the land. We are determined that this new area will be a wonderful place to live, work and spend leisure time, with communities at the very heart of what we are do.

We will be promoting Arden Cross to colleagues in the West Midlands Combined Authority, to make sure this site is considered as part of any Expression of Interest submitted to government.

If you are looking to build a high-skilled and well paid career, I would strongly suggest you look at the construction industry.

There are hundreds of jobs with some of the region’s biggest construction companies up for grabs at the Construction Jobs Fair in Birmingham on Thursday October 6 at Edgbaston Cricket Ground. 

Organised by the WMCA it gives people the chance to meet employers, training providers and colleges face-to-face and even be interviewed for a role on the very same day.

More than 40 stands with major employers including Balfour Beatty, Doocey Group, Balfour Beatty Vinci JV HS2 and Tilbury Douglas are taking part. 

The companies are looking for people so take along an up-to-date CV, you never know! You will need to register, but it’s very easy. Information on the Construction Jobs Fair and how to register can be found here.

This week also saw the launch of So Go! – our year-long campaign encouraging residents to ‘get active’ to improve their health and wellbeing. We know that there is a link between physical activity and improved mental health and this campaign will provide the necessary inspiration to get us all moving. 

The campaign will highlight the wide range of low cost or even free activities available across the borough for all ages and abilities. These include exercise ideas from table tennis to tai chi, organised walking sessions, as well as in-home exercise and inclusive cycling for people with additional needs - there are activities accessible for everyone.

So Go! will show how getting active is fun, and for everyone.  Hopefully it will provide motivation to try an activity you have never tried before, find out more about So Go here

If you live or work in Solihull town centre and are interested in its conservation, please take a little time to have your say on our new draft appraisal and management plan for the Solihull conservation area.

There’s been a Conservation Area in Solihull since 1968 to look after the special architectural and historic interest in the town and ensure it is maintained for future generations to enjoy. The current conservation area boundary was last revised in 1977, and the new draft plan proposes that sections of Church Hill Road and Park Road are added to the area.

Over the summer we’ve been gathering views about our new five-year plan for adult social care.  If you have an interest in adult social care, use our services or care for someone does, please tell us what matters to you before the online survey closes this Sunday, 2 October.  

And finally, as our summer flowers wilt and we are surrounded by autumnal hues, we can at least look forward to a new vibrant flowerbed taking centre stage in Malvern Park next spring.  To celebrate Great Big Green Week, Love Solihull has launched a competition for school children in the borough to design this flagship flowerbed.

This year’s theme is ‘Your Future Solihull’, which is about climate change and sustainability, the chosen display will showcase elements of what a sustainable Solihull could look like in the future. 

The winner will not only get their design seen by thousands of passers-by but their school will also receive £100 worth of gift vouchers and they will get a Love Solihull goodie bag.

I can’t wait to see the winning design in bloom next spring.

Have a good weekend everyone

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council