Councillor Mayes stated that it had been a privilege to have become the portfolio holder report for health and air quality. That those two areas helped recognise the relationship between supporting people to make healthier lifestyles choices and how air quality had an impact on resident’s health and wellbeing. Councillor Mayes stated that there were links between his portfolio and that of Councillor Halden, portfolio holder for adults and social care and would continue to work together. That the lockdown of COVID-19 could never have been predicted and that key workers continued to work to provide vital services and thanked every person who played there part either by staying at home or as key workers.
In Thurrock, the Council continued to deliver services to residents as much as possible with restrictions in place, with the Council and community services coming together to deliver 596 essential food packages during lockdown. Councillor Mayes praised the work undertaken by the Public Health Team during the pandemic and established outbreak control plans to protect Thurrock’s residents. A lot of positive work on mental health had been undertaken but further work was required to ensure residents got the support that they needed and as part of that a Mental Health Steering Group would be established to discuss those needs. That work continued with health and third party sectors to adopt any new challenges that COVID-19 would bring.
Councillor Mayes was pleased to announce that construction work would commence in November 2020 on the Integrated Medical Centre in Corringham. That the Integrated Medical Centres would direct the appropriate health care that residents require as not everyone would need to see a general practitioner and would free up vital appointments for those that did. That a paper was presented to the Cleaner Greener Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee earlier in the year to refresh the Air Quality and Health Strategy and although this was still Councillor Mayes aim this would not be the right time due to COVID to refresh the model. That work continued with schools on the anti-idling campaign and encouraged all to switch off engines when in an idle position to reduce pollution. Councillor Mayes reminded residents of Tilbury that the dust issue had not been forgotten with the Council taking this very seriously and actively engaging with the environmental agency and encouraged residents to continually report issues to the environmental agency.
Councillor Holloway paid tribute to the fantastic work of the Public Health Team, Council and NHS Staff and Care Providers who ensured that Thurrock was one of the lowest affected areas and for looking after Thurrock’s residents. Councillor Holloway referred to the difficulties of accessing COVID-19 testing nationally and questioned what processes were in place locally for residents of Thurrock to get them back to work and back to learning. Councillor Mayes stated the testing capacity was dedicated by the national scheme and that two lighthouse labs were opened last week which had created 75000 more capacity for testing across the country but with Thurrock prevalence of COVID quite low and work would continue with officers and partners to ensure that those residents who need a test got tested.
Councillor Holloway questioned what Councillor Mayes was doing personally to make sure that Thurrock’s test and trace was not left to nationally and that Thurrock were being heard. Councillor Mayes stated that private testing had been commissioned to alleviate testing for staffing in care sectors. That work was being undertaken with officers and partners on how provision could be increased and that more testing would become more available over the coming weeks.
Councillor Ralph thanked everyone in the Public Health Teams that and worked during the pandemic and welcomed the changes being made to mental health and the COVID test centres that had been put up in Corringham.
Councillor Allen raised his concern on the red dust problem in Tilbury.
Councillor J Kent paid tribute to all those people working for the Council and those working in the wider economy who had done so much good work during the pandemic. Councillor J Kent stated that most general practitioners were not undertaking routinely face to face consultations at this time and were being held over the telephone. Councillor J Kent stated that it was becoming increasingly difficult for residents to get appointments with general practitioners or even get through to the surgery on the telephone to make an appointment and asked Councillor Mayes if he was aware of this problem and what could be done, working with colleagues in health, to give residents better access and better chances of speaking to a general practitioner. Councillor Mayes stated that he had spoken with the five clinical commissioning group chairs and face to face appointments had been raised and that face to face appointments would be made available for the most vulnerable and mental health patients but felt that it was a fine balance to make sure that face to face appointments were undertaken when needed and to use the telephone or teams for other appointments.
Councillor Byrne questioned whether the hubs would close just as the general practitioner surgeries had closed if there was another pandemic. Councillor Mayes stated they would provide a better integrated medical care and would help residents get the right service.
Councillor Massey referred to the idling enforcement and referred to the level crossing in his ward where a lot of idling took place and stated that commercial operations were guilty of that and suggested that the Council could in the future work with commercial partners to educate them to turn off their engines at level crossings which would help everyone in the area. Councillor Mayes agreed and would speak with partners.
Councillor Worrall raised her concern on the red filings and dark dust that continued to blight her jacuzzi and items in her garden in Tilbury and stated this was not acceptable nor heathy for residents to live like this and asked Councillor Mayes to now please sort out the air quality. Councillor Mayes agreed that this was not acceptable and the Council had a duty of care and that the environmental agency were the enforcement agency. That work continued with the environment agency with a steering group now being set up.
At 8.52pm, Councillor J Kent called Point of Order in relation to Council Procedure Rules, Paragraph 3.8 (b), the time allowed to introduce the report and receive questions on each report and questioned whether the Mayor would consider extra time to ensure that all had the opportunity to speak. The Mayor stated that extra time had been allowed for Members to speak and confirmed that the order of questions being asked.
At 8.54pm, Councillor Coxshall, called Point of Order, asking for confirmation on the order of questions to ensure that all had the opportunity to speak.