Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council


Our Covid-19 figures are still rising sharply and have increased to 230 cases per 100,000 people (last week was 205) in the latest week (19-25 October) while the average in England has been 147.

In total we saw 498 new cases from 19-25 October. The number of cases is now seriously affecting our local hospitals. Our NHS colleagues are currently seeing demand approach March and April levels. 

This continuing worsening of the stats cannot keep going on without action being taken. If we want the NHS to continue to deliver all our other services, we need to follow the guidance, do more to limit the opportunity for the virus to spread and encourage others to do so.

Now we are also in the flu season I’ve been asked to remind parents to take up the free NHS flu vaccination for their children. Flu can be particularly nasty for children and can cause serious complications.

Vaccinating your child will not only help to protect them from getting the flu, but it will help prevent it spreading to more vulnerable family members and friends. Parents can visit the NHS website and Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust who are delivering the flu programme in schools for more information.

To provide a test service in the north of Solihull we launched a pilot ‘drop and collect’ service this week in the Chelmsley Wood area. It’s also in response to higher rates of Covid-19 in this part of the borough. The pilot will run until Friday 6 November.

Accredited volunteers are going door to door to offer a Covid-19 test to anyone over the age of 2. They will be easy to spot in their ‘Covid-19 Support Officer’ hi-vis jackets. They will also have two forms of ID confirming who they are.

If you get a test kit make sure to register it (assistance will be provided for those unable to get online) otherwise you won’t get the result. The volunteers will return within the hour to collect the sealed tests - so if you take one please register as soon as you can.

Taking a test, whether you have symptoms or not, will help us understand how Covid-19 is spreading. If your test is positive, please self-isolate for 10 days. This means staying in, not mixing with other households and not going out to the shops or to work!

As the nights draw in we’ve launched the annual Winter Warmth campaign with Age UK Solihull to help people stay warm and well this winter.

You can call the Solihull Winter Warmth Helpline for advice, tips and practical help on keeping warm and making your home more energy efficient. The service is not just for older or unwell residents; it is for anyone who needs help staying warm this winter. Call 0121 704 8080, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Despite the pandemic we continue to look for ways of meeting the climate change challenge. As part of our march towards being net zero carbon as a Council by 2030 I want to draw your attention to a significant contribution to this ambition as our street lighting is now carbon zero. Street lighting will now come from a ‘Pure Green’ source, generated by wind, solar and waves. This completely eliminates 1,500 tonnes of carbon emissions every year from lighting our streets. There’s more information here.

After nearly five years reviewing our Local Plan we have a new Draft Submission Plan that will guide the development of the borough for the next decade and beyond. It will be published tomorrow for everyone to make final representations. 

It will be the basis for future planning decisions as it creates a ‘blueprint’ for when and where major developments can take place, and where they shouldn’t take place.

There is a formal six-week period for people to comment from tomorrow until 14 December, before it is submitted for independent examination. In this final stage, the grounds for making a representation relate to the soundness and legal compliance of the Plan. All the documents and some helpful videos will be available on the Local Plan Review pages from tomorrow.

As a councillor I am a ‘corporate parent’ to 495 children and young people in the care of the Council. I’d like to congratulate our children in care and care experienced young people who have come together as OVOS (Our Voice Our services) to put together this new website. It’s full of information for the young people but is also useful to all of us who are corporate parents. And even more appropriate as it’s also National Care Leavers’ Week this week. Well done!

Finally, I suspect that as most outdoor bonfire night events have had to be cancelled more of us might be tempted to have fireworks in our gardens. If you are, please be considerate to your neighbours and their household pets by buying quieter fireworks. And don’t forget the ‘rule of six’ either. There’s more information here.    

None of us want to see further restrictions, especially as we move towards Christmas. Keep doing the right thing for Solihull, wash your hands, cover your face and keep your distance. 

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 29 October 2020

Useful links: 

  1. Solihull is Tier 2 - high
  2. Flu vaccinations:  For more information on who is eligible to get a free Flu vaccination the NHS website has all the details here.
  3. Making your business covid-secure
  4. Government guidelines here
  5. Black History Month
  6. Winter Economy plan
  7. Further information on the app - NHS Test and Trace App
  8. What you can and can’t do
  9. Stoptober - visit the NHS website and download the free NHS Stoptober app.
  10. Self-isolation fund – more info here