Across the world there has been understandable outrage at the killing of George Floyd on the streets of America.
Here in Croydon we have rightly stood in solidarity with our black community while our Town Hall has been lit in purple at night to remember George Floyd.
Black Lives Matter. And words and expressions of solidarity matter, but what matters most are actions and recognising the need for change.
Croydon is one of London’s most diverse boroughs and that is something we have always celebrated and are all proud of. At times of crisis we have always stood together, whether it be the tram derailment tragedy, floods or this health crisis we currently face, we have always united. That is as important now as it’s ever been.
I am proud our council workforce increasingly reflects at all levels our borough’s diversity – recently recognised by an independent assessment of our staff by the Local Government Association – and we are seeing some progress in terms of political representation on the council.
But we need to be clear – all political parties in Croydon need to up their game so that we see a greater elected representation from all our black and minority ethnic communities.
The next local elections are in 2022, so regardless of your politics – be they red, blue, yellow or green, maybe now is the time to get involved, and make sure together we continue to build on that progress made, and together deliver the change that must happen.
We are preparing to take some key decisions as a cabinet next week that will shape our borough’s future as we continue to address the impact of Covid-19.
Throughout the pandemic, I have kept you informed weekly about our immediate and ongoing response – our work to protect and care for the vulnerable; to support our businesses and to help all those suffering from the economic impact and experiencing financial hardship.
I’ve also written about our ongoing preparations to slowly and carefully unlock our local economy, helping businesses to restart and people to return to work – with the health and safety of our community at the heart of all our decisions locally.
But Covid-19 is not an immediate, or a medium term issue – it will have far-reaching, long-term consequences for communities everywhere. It has exacerbated every inequality and heightened every need, from health to poverty, housing and education. And all our planning for our borough’s future – across all these issues – must now urgently reflect this.
So in Croydon we are taking a proactive approach. Next week the cabinet is asked to approve the establishment of a new Sustainable Economic Renewal Board, which will bring together our partners across the private, public and voluntary sectors at a local and regional level to plan for a sustainable future for Croydon post-Covid-19 and look at how we will meet the changing needs of our community.
Together we will build on the work we have done as a strong partnership in our response to this pandemic and ensure that as we plan for Croydon’s recovery, and our growth and regeneration, local people are among the first to benefit.
For now, stay safe – stay home as much as possible, and if you do go out, keep following the social distancing rules to protect yourselves, your families and others.
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council