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6th Jul, 2022

WESTMINSTER DIARIES: Together we will conquer considerable challenges facing police

Last week I met our new police Chief Superintendent, Lee Wharmby, who has taken over from Bas Javid.

He has lived in the borough for some time and had a very good understanding of the policing issues we face. He understood the importance of customer service in a public service and the need to respond promptly to cries for help and to follow through on promises to come and talk to victims of crime.

The challenges facing the police service are considerable with an increase in violent crime of which the recent double murder in Solihull is a stark reminder. The nature of crime has been changing with a rise in cybercrime, which requires the police to hire new and different skills to stop the hackers and online fraudsters. Extra money has been given to the West Midlands Police to tackle terrorism so hopefully in the future we will get the resources back to the rural sector which we transferred to the city centre to keep public spaces safe.

At a meeting with the Home Secretary this week, Sajid Javid was explaining just how much police time is now taken up dealing with mental health cases and my colleagues suggested some of the extra money for the NHS should be redirected to the police who are on the front line of dealing with those who are mentally unwell.

We need to do all we can to help the police do a good job, making our property harder to steal, by having good security measures and reporting suspicious behaviour. Their job is a hard one and needs the confidence of the public to carry it out well. I wish the new Chief Superintendent and his team all the very best.

We also had good news last week that after several years of consultation to the Boundary Commission, including strong representations by us, your local MPs, with your support, the Boundary Review have decided to recommend keeping the constituencies of Solihull and Meriden within the same borders as Solihull borough. That means that when the constituency outlines are redrawn, your constituencies will largely stay the same. This will be good news to many readers.

Originally, the Commission had proposed to break up the Meriden constituency, as the two wards of Knowle and Meriden would have been merged into five Coventry wards. The Meriden constituency receives next to no services from Coventry and its voice would have been drowned out among the city concerns.

However there will be some change as the Blythe Ward will amalgamate with Solihull and the Elmdon Ward will be redistributed back into the Meriden constituency.

The new proposals will redraw the parliamentary map and in doing so reduce the overall numbers of MPs by around 50.

Thank you again to everyone who took the trouble to write in and helped us fight for one Solihull not to be split into North, South, East and West. It has definitely paid off.

Dame Caroline Spelman MP

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