Weekly email bulletin from Newham Council 18 June 2020

Newham Council is issuing regular e-bulletins to residents about what’s happening at the Council and in the borough, including the latest information about how we are responding to Covid-19.

You can read the latest message from Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz below:

Today started with sad news about the death of forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn at the age of 103. I have offered deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to her family and friends on behalf of the people of Newham. I also arranged for a wreath to be laid at Vera Lynn Close in Forest Gate, on behalf of councillors, the Council and Newham residents.

Dame Vera was born and raised in East Ham. She galvanised the morale of the nation and those who served at home and abroad during the darkest days of the Second World War. She was a symbol of the spirit and resilience of this part of the East End, which suffered heavily during the War. She will be sorely missed, but will live on through her wonderful songs and continue to be an inspiration to our armed forces communities.

Newham, with our vulnerability because of deprivation and health inequalities, is paying a high price during the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the start of May I wrote to the Government asking that as we enter the recovery phase, they give us, and communities like us, the extra financial support to help those who have borne the brunt of the pain coronavirus has unleashed. There has been no reply.

I’ve written to Boris Johnson once again to keep the pressure on, which you can read here, because Newham currently spends around £150,000 per week just to meet the needs of our most vulnerable residents. Without substantial additional funding based on an enhanced equitable formula, referred to in my last letter to the Prime Minister as a Covid-19 Deprivation premium, Newham residents will once again be further significantly disadvantaged. I want to do whatever it takes to help our most vulnerable residents during this crisis, but need more money to do so.

At the moment it is difficult to quantify the full cost to the Council on dealing with the pandemic because of all the ongoing uncertainty. We are looking at the overall economic impact and members of Newham’s Cabinet will discuss the situation in July. What I do know is that the impact will be significant.

This week we have seen significant changes to lockdown as shops classed as non-essential on our high streets and in shopping centres re-opened on Monday for the first time since March. Places of worship are also now open again but for private prayer only.

The return of many shops to the fold is an important step on our road to recovery. Our local businesses and economy have been badly impacted by coronavirus and the Council is doing everything possible to help them recover. As well as distributing the financial support provided by the Government, we have been offering advice to allow them to re-open in a safe, socially distanced way.

It is great to see many of you supporting your community by shopping locally, but as we return to a more normal way of life, it's still essential that we remain alert to the threat of a new wave of coronavirus. We all have a role to play by continuing to follow the public health advice on social distancing and hygiene.

If you are planning to go to the shops this weekend for some retail therapy, follow the rules put in place by individual retailers to protect ourselves and others. If a shop looks busy then try to go back at a less busy time, and if you can, wear a face covering. Although the number of cases has gone down, people are still being infected by coronavirus, so we must all do our bit to control the spread. And please continue to avoid public transport, where possible, to free up the limited space available to those who have no alternative way to travel. Walking and cycling is better instead.

For West Ham United fans there is an important milestone on Saturday as Premier League football returns to the London Stadium as the Hammers play Wolverhampton Wanderers behind closed doors. Avoid heading to Stratford as you won’t be able to get near the stadium, and in any case it’s much safer at home watching it on TV or listening to the radio.

We cannot risk a second wave in our borough which would be disastrous for all Newham residents. That’s why this week we’ve launched our Covid-19 Health Champions initiative to empower thousands of Newham residents with up-to-date information about the latest facts and guidance about the virus. This will help you make informed choices about the risks you may be exposed to as you get on with your daily lives.

Our Covid-19 Health Champions will be a new army of volunteers to keep all our communities up to date with the latest advice. We need champions from all age groups, neighbourhoods, ethnicities, employment sectors, faiths and special interest groups. They might be a person that everyone knows and trusts, or someone less visible who wants to help in whatever way they can. Our young people also have a huge part to play in helping us spread the word.

I hope it will empower thousands of you to help your family, friends and community members make sense of the latest information. We need to make sure all the important public health messages are reaching everybody so that we can make the best decisions to keep people safe.

If you want to be involved in the Covid-19 Health Champions network, sign up by visiting www.newham.gov.uk/covidhealthchampions or by calling 020 3373 2777.

One aspect of the unprecedented health emergency that has come to the fore is the extent of race inequality in Britain and the stain of the slave trade that unacceptably appears on many streets, memorials and buildings across the country. This must of course change and we are looking closely at what we have in Newham that is named after leading figures of the slave trade. I’ll bring you more details soon.

Last weekend you will have seen our town halls in East Ham and Stratford lit green to remember the 72 people who died three years ago in the fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington. It was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened and the anniversary was a time to remember and reflect but also call for urgent action from the Government to deal with all those remaining residential properties that still have lethal cladding.

Finally, please continue to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Consider who else is in your household and their vulnerability to infection so that you protect them. Wash your hands regularly and as soon as you are back indoors. Keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household or not in your social "bubble". Take hand sanitiser with you when you go out in case there are no handwashing facilities. Wear a face covering when on public transport. Stay safe.

Best wishes.

Rokhsana Fiaz OBE
Mayor of Newham

Read more Covid-19 updates from Mayor Fiaz or follow her on Twitter @rokhsanafiaz

Published: 18 Jun 2020