Published: Friday, 21st January 2022

Dear friends

We’re learning to live with Covid and as we revert to Plan A, to make the necessary adjustments to our day-to-day routines.

Local infection levels continue to fall, from 1,453.3 to 939.9 cases per 100,000 people this week, a welcome trend seen across the county. While this drop is encouraging, in real terms our infection level remains high, putting pressure on our hard-pressed, local NHS and health services. So, let’s continue the practices that we know will help keep us safe: hand washing, ventilating rooms and self-isolating, should we test positive.

Those aged between 30 to 39 years have the lowest vaccination rates locally. Not only does this group put themselves at serious risk of being hospitalised by Covid, but they also put those closest to them at greater risk as well. Vaccination is a shared effort, so let’s encourage everyone who is able, to do their bit in this game-changing programme. Getting vaccinated remains our collective best defence against serious illness.

The Recovery Plan has progressed this week:

  • Omicron hospitality & leisure grants are now available, with payments of up to £6,000 to eligible businesses; including pubs, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, theatres, tourist attractions, night-clubs, hotels, b&b’s and self-catering holiday homes. 
  • The Circle of Reflection & Hope’ pop-up art installations will be created by local schools and youth groups. Creative practitioners are invited to apply for the role to facilitate the creation of 50 flags made by young people aged 11 to 16. It is hoped that the five pop-up art installations to be created will reflect the effect that the pandemic has had on our children, and showcase their hopes and ambitions for the future.
  • Spark 2022! Returning live this year, this acclaimed arts, digital and cultural festival, will burst on stage at the Royal Spa Centre on Friday 11 February from 10am to 2.30pm.
  • Commonwealth Games organisers have launched the ‘Getting Games Ready’ training programme. To arm businesses with the appropriate skills, knowledge and behaviours to create positive experiences that will set us apart as a destination, businesses across the region are being invited to free training, as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Business and Tourism Programme. 

And finally… it is with great sadness that we’ll be removing a prominent and much-loved cedar from Jephson Gardens in the coming weeks. The tree, which is located on the junction of Newbold Terrace East and Willes Road, is suffering from honey fungus and has been declining for a number of years. Despite the efforts of our Green Spaces team to nurture the tree in order to prolong its life, last season’s heatwave has accelerated the spread of the disease and regrettably it now needs to be felled.

Keep smiling and stay safe.

Andrew Day Leader                                      Chris Elliott    Chief Executive

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