The Mayor made thanks to the continued support being received from residents and businesses through these extraordinary difficult times.
The Mayor stated that although his engagements had been limited he had attended a few virtual engagements with other mayors and some social distanced events.
The Mayor announced that he had given some thought on how money could be raised for his chosen charity GiFT and further details would follow shortly.
The Mayor stated that although there had been some technical difficulties previously he had been reassured that those difficulties had been overcome.
The Leader of the Council made the following announcements:
In regards to COVID 19, we are due to come out of this lockdown exactly one week today and thanked the residents of Thurrock for continuing to show such great community spirit and resilience as they had done throughout this pandemic. As many of you would have seen from the figures we published in the Council’s e-newsletter last week we had seen an increase in the number of people testing positive for COVID 19 but this was not unique to Thurrock, we were seeing a similar picture in all the surrounding Council areas.
We continued to see some outbreaks at schools, which were being dealt with by the schools themselves with support from our Public Health Team, and an outbreak in a care home. But most worryingly we were seeing an increase in infections spread and caught in the community. That was why it was so important that we all try hard to make sure that we were doing all that we can to protect ourselves and indeed each other. The advice was almost deceptively simple: we need to make sure to follow hands, face and space advice. We will learn for certain tomorrow what tier Thurrock would be placed in and to what extent there would be an easing of restrictions for us but we must continue to work together to follow advise, protect and support our most vulnerable residents and most importantly self-isolate when we need to do so. The Leader provided some COVID- 9 stats as of Wednesday 18 November, there were (actual positive test results by age brackets):
o Under 18s – 32
o 18-49 years – 219
o 50-59 years – 43
o 60-69 years – 23
o Over 70s – 30
o Total: 347
o Total number of tests carried out in the previous 7 days = 4085
o 7 day rate of positive test per 100,000 = 199
o Local authority rank (where 2 was highest, 149 was the lowest): 99th
The Leader referred to the additional support for residents and businesses that this winter we would be supporting vulnerable families with food, energy and utility bills thanks to more than half a million pounds in funding received from the Government.
We were also amongst the first in the country to launch a new discretionary businesses support fund last week which had been created by Thurrock Council, using £3.5 million of Government funding, to help smaller businesses which had been affected by COVID 19 restrictions which had not been eligible for previous funding because they worked from home or provided services from rented halls or other similar premises. These were just two examples of the help we and the Government had given residents and businesses as we had collectively faced this pandemic these last few months.
Including business rate relief, local businesses had benefitted from more than £70 million in funding and that was before the latest restriction support and discretionary grants were distributed.
The Leader announced that the Council wascommitted to supporting local traders and businesses and would once again offer free car parking every Saturday in December in all Council owned car parks and pay and display on-street parking. The high street shops and local businesses had faced many challenges over the past nine months, unlike anything they had seen before. This initiative, which was being implemented for the fourth consecutive year, would offer them a welcome boost when they needed it most, and as they begin to reopen when national lockdown measures come to an end and we entered into an updated tier system.
This free parking scheme would make it easier for residents to shop locally and have a positive impact on our local economy as shoppers to do their Christmas shopping in the wide range of local businesses that the borough had to offer.
At 7.18pm, Councillor Jefferies called a Point of Order stating that Members were unable to hear or see and questioned whether this was the right way to do business.
Councillor J Kent stated he had heard very little of meeting so far and questioned whether there was anything that could be done to improve on this.
At 7.21pm the Mayor suspended the meeting.
At 7.30pm the meeting was reconvened.
The Mayor announced that due to some technical difficulties, some Members were having problems accessing the meeting and proposed that one item of urgent business on the agenda, Item 10 - Senior Management Appointment Report, be heard and then following that report he would adjourn the meeting to another date. The Mayor apologised to Mr Perrin that his question would not be heard this evening.
At 7.32pm, Councillor Jefferies called a Point of Order stating that this was an important item which all members should have the opportunity to debate on.
At 7.34pm the Mayor suspended the meeting.
At 7.54pm, within the suspended period, Councillor Byrne was removed from the meeting.
At 7.57pm the meeting was reconvened.
The Monitoring Officer stated that the majority of Members had a good MST connection to the meeting so the presentation of the senior management appointments report would proceed.