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Thursday 19 November 2020 - Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council

Once again our scientific community has managed to do in ten months what some said would take years, by announcing another viable COVID vaccine. Modern pharmaceutical technology is incredible and delivering the news we all want to hear; let’s hope there is good progress in the plans for the enormous task of rolling out the vaccine in the coming months.

In the meantime, social distancing must go on, wearing a face covering, keeping to the one way systems in supermarkets and so on. To hammer home the message about how the virus is spread, I have asked for two posters to be produced to remind us all that, in the end, it is people who are transmitting it, and that enclosed spaces are the biggest risk factor.

I have been told that there has been some confusion about the self-isolating rules amongst those who have unfortunately caught the virus, have the symptoms or have been contacted by test and trace, in terms of how the rules affect the rest of the household. To work out how long isolation should last we have produced a handy visual guide to make it clear what you need to do.

The Government has now put in place another range of funding packages to support businesses impacted by COVID. The type of support does vary depending on the alert level of the area prior to the national lockdown (5 November to 2 December).

Businesses can find out more about the packages on offer by going to our Business Grant Schemes webpage or by emailing business@solihull.gov.uk and booking a place on our free webinar at 1pm next Wednesday, 25 November.

Some recent research by our chief medical offers has reinforced the benefits of going outside to be active, to walk, jog, cycle or do some strengthening exercises.  The evidence suggests that regular physical activity can help our mental health, improve our immune response and stop us adding ‘timber’. If nothing else, for those now working from home, going outside will offer a welcome change of scene. Even a 10-minute walk or bike ride around the neighbourhood, a few strength exercises such as squats or sit ups can improve our mood.

In the last couple of weeks, we have apparently hit a new peak for levels of acute loneliness, as the second lockdown and the darker evenings take hold. There’s no doubt about it, restrictions in winter are more difficult for most people. According to the Office for National Statistics, 4.2 million adults were always or often lonely and 2.6 million adults had not left their home for any reason in the previous seven days at the beginning of the month. Our Here2Help pages have lots of useful information about how you can stay well at this time, including contact details.

I want to encourage everyone to take daily outdoor exercise if they can and enjoy all our fabulous Green Flag parks, woods and other open spaces that we are so fortunate to have in our borough. 

More planting has taken place through our wonderful Wildlife Ways project. The pond at Langley Hall Park is currently getting some much needed love and care to help encourage more plant species and 11 of our woodlands will benefit from additional work over winter too.

You can find out more by visiting the Wildlife Ways website and signing up for monthly e-newsletters. As well as finding out more about this incredible project, it might inspire a walk somewhere new.

To continue on the theme of the outdoors, I have been asked to promote our first Cycling & Walking Strategy webinar which takes place this evening. It is vital we hear from you to help us shape our plans to make the borough more cyclist and pedestrian friendly, so do register and take part. 

These ambitions are baked into our local plan and the associated masterplan approach we are championing in our Draft Submission Plan, which is currently out for its final representations after years of debate, three previous consultations and lengthy discussions. You have until 14 December to make representations and there is more information here.       

Keep well, keep positive and continue doing the right thing for Solihull. 

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 19 November 2020

Useful links:

  1. Government guidance
  2. Council Covid information
  3. Flu vaccinations:  For more information on who is eligible to get a free Flu vaccination the NHS website has all the details here.
  4. Self-isolation fund – more info here
  5. Business support – more info here

Picture: Coleshill Heath Road, Marston Green (Wildlife Ways Route D)

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