The main message still remains: stay alert, control the virus, save lives – and keep social distancing!

One new symbol of Covid-19 will feature prominently from tomorrow – we must wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets. We are also strongly encouraged to do so in all enclosed public spaces.

I understand some people are unhappy about wearing a face covering, and some just don’t like being told what to do.  But really you are not wearing a face covering for yourself, it is to protect those around you; it is another means to help stop the potential spread of the virus.

If we are to continue this steady unlocking of our economy and society, we cannot allow infection rates to rise. These are being monitored very carefully. Rest assured, I have absolutely no desire to see the Council use the new powers we have been given to close premises or public spaces; however, if we have to use them, we will.  The continuing health of residents of this borough is our prime concern.

In other news, following our successful bid to establish a special free school to support children with autism, Forward Education Trust has been appointed by the government to run our new school, which is one 35 new special free schools across the country.

We are hoping the school could be open within three years, and will have 100 places for children and young people, aged between 7 and 16 years old, with autism, and associated social, emotional and mental health needs. The site for the school is the Bosworth Wood campus in the north of the borough.

The Forward Education Trust has a good track record of running special schools in other parts of the West Midlands.  They have a clear vision for the new school and an experienced and skilled team in place to deliver it. This is an important step towards us having a school in the borough which fully understands and caters for the individual needs of children and young people with autism.

If you have been out stretching your legs, I hope many of you will have noticed the wondrous wildflower displays across our borough, brightening our verges, parks and open spaces. 

This floral explosion is down to our “Wildlife Ways” project.  This is a £16.8 million programme – part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – which is improving the borough for the benefit of people and wildlife alike.

I am so proud of the impact this project is having in the borough that I have been out taking photos, to share with colleagues regionally, and at a national level. Whilst I was snapping away I was proud to hear people commenting on how good it looks, and what a clever idea it is.

We are also getting lovely comments from residents applauding our efforts:

I just wanted to say how much pleasure the Wildlife Ways project has given me and how it lifted mine and other people’s spirits during Lockdown. It is a tremendous project and the flowers in Shirley Park in particular are absolutely fantastic”

The programme includes trees, bulb and wildflower planting.  It will also make it easier for people wanting to walk and cycle across the borough by widening and connecting paths and cycle routes with green spaces, meaning Wildlife Ways can be enjoyed throughout the year!

Do take some pictures of your favourite Wildlife Ways displays and share them with us on our social media channels such as twitter or Facebook. I look forward to seeing them.

Take care!

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 23 July 2020