Message from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council, 23 June 2020

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives – and keep social distancing

Over the last few days, the media has been full of speculation about relaxing the lockdown restrictions. It really concerns me, from what I see when I am out and about, that some people are now thinking that “we are on the way out” of this crisis.

Technically, with our alert level now at “three”, we are likely to see a more gradual relaxation of restrictions, although we must remember that level three means the virus is still in general circulation. As we open up more of the economy and our social spaces, we could run the risk of creating opportunities for the virus to spread.

We will continue to see cases locally for some time and it’s essential that people get tested quickly and self-isolate if they have any symptoms. We have also put in place plans to get on top of any outbreaks rapidly, as this is key to keeping the virus numbers low and stopping it spreading.

Prevention is better than cure. Face coverings are now mandatory on public transport and appropriate if we have to go into enclosed public spaces, but we must continue with social distancing, hand-washing and keeping social interaction to a safe minimum. 

The latest scientific evidence shows that the chance of encountering coronavirus in the community has continued to decline. This means that the government is relaxing advice to those 2.2 million people who have been shielding. The relaxation is in two stages, but of course, extra care should be taken to minimise contact with others by maintaining social distancing.

From Monday 6 July, they can spend time outdoors in a group of up to six people (including those outside of their household. This can be in a public outdoor space, or in a private garden or uncovered yard or terrace. 

Those who are shielding and live alone or are single parents with children will also be able to create a ‘support bubble’ with one other household of any size, following the same rules that are already in place for the wider population. 

Then from Saturday 1 August, the advice to those shielding will be further relaxed. It will mean people who are clinically extremely vulnerable can go to work or to the shops, as long as they are able to maintain social distancing. Support for those shielding will be extended to the end of July – this includes the delivery of food and medicines. More on this announcement here.

This is all welcome news for those who have been shielding over the past three months. Now everyone else awaits the outcome of the review of the social distancing guidelines and announcements about re-opening more aspects of life. Whatever relaxations are made, we have to recognise they will be gradual and we won’t see a sudden switch back to the way things were before lockdown. We simply can’t risk another spike. 

Looking to the future and as part of our recovery plans, I am pleased that we have reached another milestone for Kingshurst village centre. with the submission of an Outline Planning Application. This has been a long time coming and there is still a lot of work to be done. But it’s testament to the hard work of the officers involved in this project, that the scheme is on track despite the obvious working restrictions we have all been experiencing as a result of Covid-19.

The Outline Planning Application is not the final design, it sets out the principles of the proposed redevelopment. It does however bring us a step closer to getting spades in the ground and delivering on what is genuinely a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ to create a high quality, community focussed centre at the heart of Kingshurst.

I just wish to thank residents for their feedback and eagerness to get involved. I hope this continues so that together we can shape the new Kingshurst into a village centre that we can all be proud of.

As I have been out and about, I have seen more and more cars, but I am also seeing many more cycles, and people out for a stroll. Can I ask you please to be extra careful when driving, especially on some of the narrow country roads that we have in the Borough – you never know what is around the corner.

Finally, please do bring your library books back between 10am – 1pm this coming Thursday 25 June. We need these books as part of our preparations for rolling out a ‘click and collect’ service starting on 6 July. We will only be able to let you drop off books, and please do observe social distancing. Unfortunately you won’t be able to meet library staff!

Click here for more information.

Please take care