Agenda item

Statements by the Leader


The Leader began his statement and outlined the daily change in the levels of COVID-19 across the borough. He stated that he would not give a breakdown of cases by age, but that added that Thurrock currently had 224 positive cases per 100,000. He confirmed that although COVID levels were rising across the borough, the number of COVID cases amongst people over 60 had dropped. He added that neighbouring council’s across Essex and London were also facing increased COVID levels. The Leader confirmed that the decision surrounding tiers was made by central government, and Thurrock’s tier position would be updated next week. He hoped that Thurrock would remain in Tier 2, and urged residents to practice ‘hands, face, space’, as well as social distancing and wearing masks in all shops, regardless of how large they were. He added that the Council would be working with businesses to make sure they continued to be COVID-19 compliant.

The Leader moved on and discussed the annual Give a Gift scheme, which ensured disadvantaged children from across the borough received presents at Christmas. He stated that donations were currently being accepted online via an Amazon wish-list, which would close at midnight on Sunday. He stated that the project currently needed donations of gift cards, to make sure that older children could choose presents they really wanted. He stated that all information was on the Council’s website, and urged Members to share the scheme on their social media pages. He added that an email from the Communications team was also being sent round, and outlined how easy it was to send a gift to a disadvantaged child. He thanked Thurrock Council staff for their help in organising the scheme, as well as Amazon, and the people who had already donated. He stated that donations had been received from people all around the UK, as well as from people overseas.

The Leader then discussed the free school meals scheme, which would ensure that eligible children received £15 per week over the two weeks’ Christmas break. He stated that the scheme was grant funded from central government’s Winter Grant Scheme, and would begin to be distributed on 14 December 2020 directly from the schools. He added that this would help ensure 6,200 Thurrock children had enough to eat over the Christmas period, and would be continued for the February half-term too. He stated that Thurrock Council were working with central government and volunteers to ensure the scheme would continue through later half-terms and school breaks. He thanked all charities and volunteers that were working with eligible families to ensure that no child went hungry.

The Leader then outlined the Transforming Homes scheme, which had continued to renovate and improve the homes of 205 families living in the borough’s high rises and flats. He stated that new windows had been fitted, as well as communal areas being decorated and new external doors fitted. He gave the example of Derwent Parade, and the benefits that residents had already seen from the scheme in this area. The Leader moved on and stated that the Local Plan consultation had started today, which would create a direction for Thurrock’s communities. He stated that the Council were working with the Prince’s Foundation on the ‘BIMBY Project’, which stood for Beauty in my Back Yard. He encouraged all residents to take part in the consultation process, and highlighted how successful the charrette process had been in Aveley.

The Leader then outlined the Clean It, Cut It, Fill It update, and stated that 1938 potholes had been filled, all within target time; 260 tonnes of litter had been cleared; 814 fly-tips had been cleared; and 2342 Fixed Penalty Notices had been issued.

The Leader summarised and stated that the discretionary grant scheme was still running and offered help for businesses across Thurrock struggling with the impact of COVID. He urged those businesses that needed support to discuss this with the Council, as the team would work with businesses on an individual basis to make sure they had the support they needed. He added that individuals struggling to pay their Council bills should also discuss this with the team, as the Council could help set up payment plans and offer support. The Leader then wished everyone across the borough a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, even though it would not be the same festive season as in previous years. He urged residents to follow government advice and help keep infection rates down over the Christmas period.