Again this year Solihull has been recognised nationally as one of the best places to live in the UK. Apart from the place itself, it’s often what we do that makes it the place it is – how we invest both our talents and our resources to ensure the people of Solihull get the best we can offer.
I can provide two examples of what that means for Solihull. Firstly, a recent Ofsted report puts Solihull at the top in the West Midlands for having good or outstanding primary schools. Secondly, in our joint working with the NHS we have been recognised through the Vanguard programme as being at the forefront in developing integrated working, particularly in the field of frail elderly care. I could give many examples which make Solihull the place it is, and they should be celebrated, but we always have to be mindful of new challenges around the corner.
The reduction in local government finance support is one such challenge we face. Over the next few years the central grant falls for us in Solihull, and we have been working to ensure that as these changes evolve, we have plans in place to meet the funding gap. The key to delivering the quality of service the people of Solihull expect and deserve relies on continuing economic growth. To this end we have created and are delivering an economic growth plan for the borough. This is built on the need to attract inward investment to meet some of the shortfall created by the gap in central government funding. It cannot meet it all, but will go some way to soften the impact it will have. 2016 will see more of that plan emerge.
Finally, I would like to offer a more seasonal note. During this festive period we should spare a thought to all those who will be working. The full list is too extensive to make, but we all know who they are. There’s one group in particular that deserve our thanks – those who care for others, either their own family or the most vulnerable in our community.
Thanks to them and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.
Coun Bob Sleigh
Leader of Solihull Council.