Agenda item

Announcements on behalf of the Mayor or the Leader of the Council


The Mayor welcomed everyone back to the Chamber either physically or through MST and stated it would be an honour and was delighted to be Mayor for another year and confirmed that GIFT would remain his nominated charity. The Mayor thanked all NHS staff for their hard work during this crisis and how they had put themselves at risk at this difficult time. The Mayor praised the 500 volunteers who had volunteered through the Thurrock Coronavirus Community Action which had shown an exceptional gesture and community spirit within Thurrock. Also thanking those volunteer groups, local companies and staff for all their hard work and time. The Mayor also stated that he had made a number of personal donations from his mayor’s allowance to those groups and organisations to assist with the hard work that they were undertaking.


The Leader of the Council stated as this was the first Full Council of the 2020/21 municipal calendar and the first since the changes had been brought in since the country applied strict social distancing measures in the middle of March. That life had not been quite the same but here in Thurrock we had seen how our community had pulled together to fight this global pandemic and thanks to the actions and responsible behaviour of our residents over the last 16 weeks and for that the Leader thanked everyone who helped as a volunteer, who helped their neighbours, who helped their friends and family who all played their part to beat the virus and out of the150 similar sized local authorities, the rate of positive tests per 100,000 residents over the course of the epidemic in Thurrock was the 33 third lowest in the country and thanked everyone who had played their part over the 16 weeks.


The Leader stated that when pubs and restaurants re-opened last weekend there had not been a mad rush and flouting of the rules as many predicted but instead there were orderly queues as people made sure to follow social distancing guidance and keep themselves and each other safe. The Leader thanked them all.


The Leader stated that the next stage in the battle to control the rate of coronavirus infection was Test and Trace and was delighted to state that Thurrock had excellent plans in place to ensure that everyone in the borough could be tested quickly at the first signs of symptoms and swift action could be taken to control possible outbreaks of coronavirus in the borough. That a Thurrock Local Operation Control Centre had been set up, with its main responsibility to identify and manage any potential COVID-19 outbreaks in what are deemed ‘high risk’ settings such as schools, care homes, primary care centres, work places and vulnerable groups within the borough. The work of this centre would include supporting local testing and contact tracing within these settings to manage outbreaks and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Leader stated that anyone who felt any of the symptoms of coronavirus – that’s a new continuous cough, high temperature, the loss or change to their sense of smell or taste – they must self-isolate and contact the NHS to book a test immediately. If residents were contacted by NHS Test and Trace to listen carefully to what they said, follow the guidance they give and make sure to answer their questions honestly.


All had achieved a tremendous amount to come together and do things none of us thought we would ever be called upon to do. People had stayed at home, not visited friends and family and made sure to keep their distance. The actions had made a difference and the threat posed by coronavirus had been reduced but the Leader stated we must remember that threat was still there and it was for all of us to make sure we continued to follow social distancing. That there was clear evidence to say that staying 2 metres apart was far safer than 1 metre – in fact the risk of getting infected by someone with the virus was 202% lower if you are standing 2 metres away from them than you are at 1 metre. The Leader urged all the borough’s residents to remember that no matter what, social distancing was key to keep infection down and continue to observe 2 metre social distancing wherever possible in all Council buildings – including the libraries which began re-opening this week. The Council would continue to review this and ensure the latest guidance would be followed and had plans in place before any decision was made to re-open any council building or facility. The Leader was sure that as time went on we would see these social distancing rules change and the restrictions lifted to help bring us back to a normal routine and get our economy back on track.


The Leader stated that the pandemic had seen the Government make regular announcements and made clear how they were spending billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money in support of residents and business to get through the pandemic and to move to recovery. Such as the:


·         £2bn Kickstart scheme - directly pay businesses to create new, decent and high-quality jobs for any 16-24 year

·         £111million paying businesses £1,000 to take on trainees

·         Providing £2,000 to employers for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25

·         £32 million to recruit new careers advisors

·         £17 million to support work placed the number of academies, including Thurrock supporting those who are out of work with the new skills they need to re-enter the jobs market

·         Cutting VAT for hospitality and tourism from 20% to 5% for tourism and hospitality between 15 July 2020 until 12 January 2021

·         Launching a new Eat Out to Help Out scheme


The Leader provided a Clean It Cut It Fill It update that since 13 March 2020, when social distancing guidance came into force, Thurrock Council had:


·         Collected more than 2.25 million bins from people’s homes

·         Cleaned up over 600 tonnes of waste from the borough’s streets

·         Cleared more than 130 fly-tips

·         Filled over 1,000 potholes – every single one within target time

·         Issued 1,050 Fixed Penalty Notices for offences including littering, spitting and dropping cigarette butts

·         Issued 66 £400 fines to fly-tippers

·         Made more than 6,000 repairs on council homes

·         Housed 37 people who were rough sleepers or at risk of rough sleeping

·         Produced over 750 posters giving people critical advice about coronavirus

·         Distributed government fund lifelines worth more than £21 million to more than 1,650 local businesses

·         Dealt with 400 extra council tax support claims


The Leader thanked every single Council officer who had helped provide all those services to ensure that the borough remained safe and tidy.