The Mayor stated he still had not attended any functions or with any Thurrock faced groups or businesses which had been disappointing but still hoped by the end of his time as Mayor he would be able to visit some functions but unfortunately this was looking very unlikely.
The Mayor stated he continued to make donations to Thurrock based groups from his mayoral allowance.
As this was the last meeting for Councillor Piccolo, as Mayor, he thanked all Members for their services this year and wished those standing for re-election in May all the very best.
Councillor Gledhill, Leader of the Council, made the following announcements:
In regards to COVID he was sure everyone in the borough had wholeheartedly welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement that there were now clear plans in place which would see us move out of the current national lockdown to better enjoy greater freedoms as we went through the year. This was a welcome light at the end of the tunnel for all in our borough who had worked so hard to follow Government guidance and had successfully help lower the infection rates in Thurrock. The roadmap would see schools opening on the 8 March, non-essential shops, gyms and beer gardens opening on the 12 April, pubs and restaurants on the 17 May and hopefully everything back to as near to normal as we could expect on the 21 June. The Council had made tremendous strides in fighting, slowing and halting the spread of infection locally but it was important that we continued to so to see those huge reductions since December continue. Thurrock had moved away from being the highest infection rate in the country but the strain was still there for the NHS. It was crucial to still stay at home with the ‘Stay at Home’ order would still in place until the 29March, those who were clinically extremely vulnerable were being advised not to attend work, school or education until the 31 March. Now was the time to make sure that we were doubling down on our efforts in order to keep the proposals for the roadmap on track and to get back to getting the shops open once again and to get the high streets back and viable.
The national vaccination programme had been a huge success and although local figures were not yet available these were being pushed for every week. The overall vaccination rate of over 18 million people nationally with three quarters of a million of those having received their second dose.
The Leader provided a COVID figure update on the actual positive test results by age brackets between the 12 February and 18 February:
· Under 18s – 31 (previous 7 days from 5 February to 11 February was 18)
· 18-49 years – 106 down from 126
· 50-59 years – 25 down from 47
· 60-69 years – 20 up from 14
· Over 70s – 15 down from 18
With the local authority rank (where 1 was the highest and 149 being the lowest) Thurrock was 81st.
The Leader stated that in this financial yeara staggering 3380 potholes across Thurrock had been filled, with just under 200 pot holes not meeting the criteria to be filled. Residents were urged to continue to report potholes to the Council so these could be assessed. That 37 capital resurfacing programmes had been undertaken this year which had delivered 90 kilometres of new road surfaces.
The Leader stated the keys to the remaining homes at Claudian Way had been handed over as part of the Council’s investment in new Council homes for affordable rent for people on the borough's housing register. The new development in Chadwell St Mary consisted of 53 new homes including apartments, houses and bungalows, three of which were wheelchair accessible. The high quality homes followed the Alma Court development that provided 29 much-needed Council homes in Grays last year and would be followed by 35 flats specifically designed to meet the needs of the boroughs older residents on Calcutta Road in Tilbury. The Leader urged those small or medium sized builders who wished to work for Thurrock on small site developments to get in contact so that the Council could work in partnership with them to deliver more Council homes for those that need them.
The Leader provided an update on School Meals and thanks to the Government’s £524k COVID Winter Grant Scheme the Council had made sure that £15 supermarket vouchers were distributed to support thousands of children across Thurrock. This followed on from Thurrock delivering vouchers through the two week Christmas school holiday and in total 17,400 vouchers had been issued during the Christmas and February school holidays.
The Leader wished those Councillors retiring this year well and passed on his thanks to those not seeking re-election in May, the Leader also wished those who were up re-election all the very best.