As we await the Prime Minister’s expected announcement on Monday to outline the roadmap for coming out of lockdown, I want to thank everyone for all they continue to do to keep Croydon safe.
Our NHS partners continue to do a fantastic job rolling out the vaccination programme and I’m sure that, like me, you are all hearing about more family members, friends and colleagues who have now had their first vaccination. This week we shared stories from two of our faith leaders, Pastor Damian Luke and Imam Suliman, about why they said yes to theirs – click on the links to watch their videos. If you have questions about the vaccine, you can find information on the NHS website.
Thanks to everyone staying at home and minimising your social contact, we are seeing the number of Covid-19 cases slowly decrease. Together, our hard work is making a difference. However, I must urge you all to keep going. Covid-19 cases remain extremely high. While we all want to return to normality as quickly as possible, doing so too soon could undo all the hard work we have done to get to this point.
Please continue to protect yourselves and others by staying at home, following the national lockdown restrictions and always, follow the social distancing guidance on hands, face, space. It is also vital that if you have any of the symptoms, you book a free NHS test – this helps to isolate cases, and to prevent them spreading in our communities. The virus is still out there and it is still deadly – we cannot let down our guard.
Earlier this week the government announced that it was prioritising 800,000 extra people in England to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and including them in its shielding programme, after new data revealed they could be at higher risk from the virus.
The data found that there are several health and personal factors which, when combined, could mean someone is at a higher risk from COVID-19. Factors include age, ethnicity, Body Mass Index (BMI) as well as certain medical conditions.
If you are affected, NHS England will write to you in the coming days and advise you to shield. If, when you register on the government’s shielding website, you indicate you are in need of support, your contact details will be passed to us and we will be in touch to help.
I’d like to remind everyone that whether you are shielded or not, if you need help or support during this time, we are here for you. You can find more information on our Covid-19 webpages or if you need urgent help, contact our Covid-19 helpline on: 020 8604 7787, Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm.
Renewing Croydon – our finances
My top priority is the council having robust, sustainable finances and last night my cabinet and I took some important steps to achieve this, determining how we will manage our assets and investments to achieve the best outcome for residents.
A key part of this is resolving the future of Brick By Brick and its development projects so they bring maximum benefit and minimum risk to local taxpayers.
We have agreed a series of actions, the first being to make sure that sites currently underway are completed by this autumn, so Brick By Brick pays money owed to the council and more local people on our housing waiting list get a much-needed home.
Later this year, we will decide on what happens to the longer-term sites the future of Brick By Brick itself, with a final decision on whether to sell the company being made by May 2021.
There is a wide range of sites that will now not be developed by Brick By Brick, and the council will decide what to do with each site based on the best option for local taxpayers. You can find out more here.
We also agreed last night that several disused, council-owned sites are set to be sold at the best possible price to boost the council’s finances, after approving an interim asset disposal strategy.
This strategy gives the council a clearer process around deciding how to get best value for Croydon taxpayers on selling surplus sites in the right way and at the right time.
The council has earmarked 15 sites for potential sale, including The Croydon Park Hotel, which could bring in much-needed income and reduce expensive running costs. Find out more here.
Finally, as we come to the end of half-term, I hope school staff and families have managed to have a much-needed and well-deserved rest. While our teachers continue to do an amazing job in delivering remote learning, I’m sure they, and pupils and parents have all welcomed the chance to have a break and hopefully some time away from their screens.
Have a good weekend, and stay safe,
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council