Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 12 May 2020

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives – a new message, but social distancing remains the key.

In the Prime Minister’s speech on Sunday, he outlined the first tentative steps to reopening society – the “first careful steps” to relaxing the current situation and getting the economy moving again.

The key to this crisis ending is the cutting back of infection rates and to do this we will still need to socially distance, thus reducing the overall risk of transmitting disease.  As the Prime Minister has said “it would be madness now to throw away what has been achieved …. by allowing a second spike”.  There is still a long road back to “normality” and we will need to monitor Covid-19 very carefully over the coming weeks.

The first step on this road is that people will be allowed more, even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise, use of open spaces for relaxation and being able to drive to other destinations….but maintenance of the rules on social distancing will be absolutely vital.

People who can work at home should continue to work at home, with some limited steps to get people who can’t do this back to their places of work. Businesses will be provided with guidance to put in place measures to ensure their workplaces are safe. Looking to the future, further plans were also set out for a potential phased reopening of shops and with certain year groups going back into primary schools sometime in June.  If Covid-19 numbers continue to fall, this would open the way for the lifting of other restrictions.

But to repeat …. maintenance of the rules on social distancing will be absolutely vital.

I want now to pay tribute to our waste collection team. Last week, we resumed garden waste collections and the team dealt with virtually double the usual amount of garden waste, alongside our normal high quality waste and recycling service. It was a fabulous effort and my thanks go to all the crews, and those behind the scenes, for their dedication and service in such trying times.

We have announced the re-opening of our Household Waste Recycling Centre on Monday 18 May.  Do think carefully about whether a trip is really essential.  There are likely to be significant queues, especially as we need to follow social distancing guidance.  Only five cars will be allowed in at any one time; only one person will be allowed to leave each car to remove waste.

On a totally different subject, we are in the midst of Foster Care Fortnight (11- 24 May).  This national campaign shines a light on the massive role that foster carers play in transforming the lives of our vulnerable children and young people.  In Solihull we are blessed with some wonderful foster carers.  Sadly, there are still many children across the borough who are desperately in need of a safe and loving home.  If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a foster carer, please call 0121 788 4253 or visit the website on

On a more sombre note, I also want to make people aware of the new bereavement helpline.  Many people in the borough will be facing the tragedy of losing a loved one, either because of Covid-19 or many other reasons.  The helpline is there to support anyone in Solihull or Birmingham deal with their loss.  Call 0121 687 8010 to talk to someone about your loss.

Please let’s continue to stop the spread of the virus and remain alert to the threat it still poses.  It is up to us to follow the guidelines, keep at least 2m from others when we do go out and carry on washing our hands frequently. We cannot afford the risk of a second spike.

My wish to you all for good health, happiness and harmony:  Stay alert, control the virus, save lives