This year has been the most difficult and challenging many of us have ever experienced.
I have been consistent in my messaging and leadership of Solihull by stressing that we must follow government guidance and restrictions to overcome Covid-19. I have made many difficult decisions with my council colleagues, our MPs, and the West Midlands Combined Authority Mayor (WMCA) to protect our lives.
Across this great borough of Solihull and indeed across the West Midlands, we have endured huge impacts on our daily lives, coped with adversity and some of us have sadly lost people we love and care about.
I am proud of how we, the people of Solihull, with our public services; including our NHS staff, our schools, our police, and our council staff, alongside our businesses and our learners have met this adversity. So many people are putting in tremendous hours to help us all, and I want to sincerely thank them for their efforts.
However, the green shoots of recovery from Covid-19 and a return to normal life have slipped away from us. We are now firmly in a second wave of the pandemic. Our Covid-19 positive case rates are rising to levels which we saw earlier in the year. People are becoming very poorly again and tragically more people are succumbing to this virus.
It is true that the death rate is currently less than before, but unfortunately there is a ‘lag factor’ from infection rate, to hospitalisation, to the dreadful fatalities. The impact of caring for our sick family members, relatives, friends, work mates, and neighbours is that our hospitals are now nearly full. We must decide on further measures without delay to get on top of this second wave of Covid-19, particularly as we enter the winter season.
In the coming week I will be working alongside my fellow leaders and the WMCA Mayor to lead discussions with government ministers. We now need to understand the case for national Tier 3 restrictions and push for new measures that will work for us. Crucially we need clarity on how we can spend the least time with any additional measures and how we then de-escalate them.
I will be pushing for the right financial package to help us prevent and overcome the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in Solihull. I have to be clear that this will mean more enforcement measures for the small number of people in our borough who are not prepared to follow the law and guidance.
As worrying, for all of us, is the short and probable long term impacts of Covid-19 on our jobs and businesses. Solihull is the engine of our West Midlands economy but it is spluttering and will stall if we do not get on top of the Covid-19 pandemic. So I am working with our business leaders and the government to get the right support for our jobs and businesses. This will be a key part of our discussions this coming week.
All of this work is based on one clear and unequivocal fact. Every single one of us MUST follow the current and any future restrictions and guidance.
This Covid-19 pandemic is costing lives, jobs, wellbeing and futures. What we do next is a MUST and not a request. I know I can count on you all to do the right thing for Solihull.