The Commonwealth Games again dominates the headlines, as Birmingham, Solihull and other parts of the West Midlands take the stage in this once in a lifetime event. And what a week it has been. After the spectacular opening ceremony for the Games at the Alexander Stadium last Thursday, we knew it was going to be a fantastic week of sporting action, spanning venues throughout the region.
With the NEC on our patch and playing host to a jam-packed itinerary of events including boxing, netball, table tennis and more, I managed to head down there and soak up some of the atmosphere. I was really impressed with the ‘have a go’ badminton area and the other activities taking place to get the crowds involved and add to the excitement of this 22nd edition of the Games. One of the volunteers told me this facility had been very much in use and enjoyed by members of the public, so maybe we will see many others take up the game.
I had been asked to speak at a Commonwealth Games Business Forum Fringe Event in Birmingham earlier in the week about how businesses can play their part in reducing their carbon footprint. When leaving I was really impressed with the displays in the Atrium of the building (as you can see in my picture). The lady in charge was telling me they had been organising lots of ‘Commonwealth Games’ themed competitions, with prizes all designed to promote local business. She said this had been a good way of bringing people in the building together, as several companies were operating there. So, it is not just our communities getting together. Organisations are doing it too, which is great to see.
I do hope that you have been able to attend one of the many events or experience this brilliant sporting showcase that our region is hosting. If you haven’t managed to get tickets then do try and visit Birmingham city centre, as there is a real buzz about the place: of course, you will see the giant mechanical bull which featured in the opening ceremony and is now situated in Centenary Square. I read a lovely story about a teacher from Shirley who had a starring role as one of the bull chain-maker ladies. She said stepping into the packed Alexander Stadium, while pulling the heavily armoured bull, Ozzy, onto the stage was ‘magical’. Read the story here: Shirley teacher starring role as bull chain maker lady at Birmingham 2022 opening ceremony - The Solihull Observer
Closer to home we have our two festival sites in Mell Square and Theatre Square which are showing some of the events on a big screen. If you’re in Solihull town centre over the weekend, then do take a moment to sit down and enjoy the action.
You can also put your knowledge of Commonwealth countries to the test by taking part in our Recycled Flag Trail, which is running in Touchwood and The Core until 4 September. The trail features a huge variety of recycled flags made by students from across Solihull – pick up your trail sheet at Touchwood’s Information Desk or The Core. Find out more here: Test your Commonwealth knowledge in the Recycled Flag Trail | solihull.gov.uk
In other news, Birmingham has been shortlisted as one of the six potential locations for the headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR). GBR will be the new public body that will oversee a new era of innovation, investment and integration across the rail network, deciding where trains go, when they go and how much people pay. Attracting GBR to the region could be another catalyst for the economy in the West Midlands. New employers to the region help other sectors, such as retail and hospitality, not just helping with levelling up, but with enhancing further our civic pride across the region. Birmingham submitted its bid earlier this year and has made the final shortlist. The next and final stage involves a visit by the judging panel and a public vote which is open until 15 August. So please show your support by Voting for Birmingham.
I couldn’t leave my message without mentioning our Arden Free Tree Scheme, which is open for applications again. Run in partnership with Birmingham Airport, the scheme is open to individuals or groups who would like to create hedgerows or small woodlands on their own land within Solihull. The deadline for applications is the end of August and successful applicants will receive their free trees in time for the planting season (November 2022 – March 2023).
This is a brilliant initiative which aims to protect and enhance the rural character of Solihull, restoring features typical of the wider local landscape while also reducing carbon in the atmosphere. So, if you would like to take advantage then read more here: https://www.solihull.gov.uk/news/applications-open-free-trees and get your application in quick!
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council