Croydon is the most amazing place to live in London. Having grown up here it’s a huge honour to have been elected last week to lead the council despite the difficult times we are facing as a borough.
Despite the unprecedented times, we have seen the best of Croydon over the Covid-19 pandemic, with communities coming together to support one another in their time of need. From wearing masks and following the government rules to stop the spread of the virus, to businesses and the council stepping up this week to provide free meals for pupils struggling over the half term holiday. It’s this sense of community which I want to harness as leader of the council. Working with everyone in our borough to build a better Croydon.
I am also committed to getting the council’s house in order. You may have read the report published last week setting out clear weaknesses in the state of the council’s finances. This has understandably shocked local people, myself included, and I am deeply sorry that the council has got into this position.
I want to reassure you that alongside addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, my absolute priority as the council’s newly-elected leader is to put this right.
The council’s financial problems have deep roots and while a decade of austerity and the Covid-19 crisis have had a major impact, they do not excuse the issues this report laid bare. Work to improve the situation is already well under way. We have a new chief executive and a new cabinet and together we will do what is necessary to stabilise our budget while protecting the services residents need most.
I look forward to getting out and about in the borough in the coming weeks to hear your views about the council and the change you want to see.
In our borough there were 689 confirmed Covid cases in the two weeks between 8 and 21 October, compared with 480 cases in the previous two weeks.
The latest 7-day incidence rate in Croydon is 110.9 per 100,000, and while this is lower than the rates seen across London and England, it is increasing and continues to grow.
The number of inpatients in our hospital remains low (25) but is also starting to steadily increase and the same is true of Covid-related deaths. I’m saddened to tell you that in the most recent five weeks, after around two months with no Covid-related deaths, six Croydon residents have lost their lives to the virus.
This is a stark reminder of the seriousness of the threat we face and I would urge you all to play your part in helping us to keep our borough safe.
Croydon, like the rest of London, remains at high local Covid alert level. You can check what the restrictions mean for you here – please follow them and do all you can to protect yourselves and others.
We all want to celebrate festivals that are important to us and Halloween is no exception but this year, we must all put our own safety and the safety of our loved ones, first.
At a time when the rates of Covid-19 continue to rise, the Trick or Treat tradition with many children going door to door, ringing on the same doorbells and rummaging in the same bowl of sweets is an unnecessary risk to take.
Please also consider vulnerable residents who may be particularly anxious as a result of the pandemic and alarmed by repeated knocks on their door.
There are plenty of alternative ways to mark the festivities, such as carving pumpkins or having a movie night, so I would urge you all please to stay home, celebrate differently and stay safe this year.
Bonfire Night is another event where we also need to put safety first. London Fire Brigade recommends you think carefully about holding a firework display in your garden or building a garden bonfire. Firework displays and bonfires are normally organised by professionals in large spaces as they can get out of control very quickly.
Remember the rule of six applies in private gardens and outdoor spaces, and households must not mix indoors unless they are part of a support bubble. This is against the law and the police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notices) of £200, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £6,400.
So please in all you do this season, put your safety and that of others around you, first.
Councillor Hamida Ali, leader of the council