When I became leader I pledged that we would involve residents in our decisions and listen to them as we shape the future of local services.
Earlier this week I reiterated my commitment to fully involve residents in both our immediate action and longer-term plans to improve housing services. No one could fail to be moved by Fransoy Hewitt’s account of her experiences when we asked her to address our meeting on Monday night. I am determined that Ms Hewitt’s will be the first of many voices we hear, as we give all of our residents a greater say in how our housing services are run.
We have also this week ruled out the closure of any library buildings after you told us how much it means to have libraries at the heart of communities. We need to make savings, but we will keep all 13 of our library buildings open and achieve these by partnering with an organisation or reducing opening hours.
I have always been clear that Croydon has to make some tough decisions to get our finances back on track, but we will be open with you about the choices and hear your views and ideas. Thanks to everyone who took part in our initial consultation on libraries – please have your say on the detailed proposals at the beginning of June.
We are currently consulting on plans for our children’s centres – you can get involved here. As with libraries, we need to make savings but we will listen to you in how we do this. Your views will help to shape the future of this important service for children and families.
There has been a lot in the media about the variant first detected in India and I want to reassure you that Covid-19 infection levels in Croydon remain low overall – the data is published here.
Where Public Health England (PHE) detect cases of a Covid-19 variant in our borough, they contact our director of public health, who works with her team and NHS Test and Trace to take swift and appropriate action – isolating cases and sometimes targeted surge testing in the local area. Where we need communities to take part in extra testing, we will always let them know.
However, the most important advice for all of us to protect ourselves from all strains of the virus remains the same:
- Get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible, because this gives you the best possible defence against the virus. If you are aged 34 or over, you can book your first jab. If you are over 50, your second dose will be moved forward – take it up as soon as you are offered.
- Follow the advice on hands, face, space and fresh air – wash your hands frequently, wear a face covering in enclosed spaces, keep your distance from others and let in plenty of fresh air.
- Use rapid (lateral flow) Covid-19 tests regularly – twice weekly is recommended. 1 in 3 people don’t have any symptoms and this can help to keep your family and friends safe.
- If you have any Covid-19 symptoms, get a free PCR test. If you test positive by any means, self-isolate immediately.
By taking these actions, we can all help to keep Croydon moving forward on the roadmap out of restrictions. I hope you all have a good weekend, enjoy some rest and relaxation with family and friends – and maybe even a long-awaited trip to a restaurant, pub or the cinema. Whatever you do, have fun – and stay safe.
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council