Agenda item

Statements by the Leader


The Leader began his statement by describing how COVID-19 cases across the borough had continued to fall. He urged residents to continue to follow the rules regarding lockdown, to only go out if necessary, and to always follow the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance, even if you had received the vaccine. He stated that the major incident that had been declared across Essex had now been lifted as the NHS was no longer under such immense pressure, due to falling case rates. He commented that all residents should still follow the rules, and not try to find loopholes, as this would increase the number of infections and delay the end of lockdown.

The Leader then moved on and discussed how Thurrock was seeing a good take up in the number of people getting the vaccine, and described how the borough was ahead of the curve in administering the vaccine to the four highest priority groups. He stated that they were now working on an accelerated timeline and were following the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation guidelines by now offering the vaccine to disabled young people and their carers. He stated that the NHS were still delivering the vaccine to those residents who were housebound in priority groups 1-3, but this process took time due to logistics. He urged residents in priority groups 1-3 to contact their GP surgeries if they had not yet been offered the vaccine. The Leader then stated that Thurrock currently had three vaccination centres: Stifford Clays, Chadwell St Mary, and Thurrock Community Hospital. He thanked the volunteers and staff at the centres for all their hard work, particularly during this cold period. He encouraged all residents to get their vaccine once they had been offered it, and to visit the Essex COVID vaccine website if they had any concerns. He summarised and stated that there were also a number of vaccination scams, whereby residents were being contacted and asked to pay for their vaccine. He urged people to stay alert for these scams and reiterated that the vaccine was free to everyone.

The Leader then stated that the Thames Freeport bid, which had been backed by Thurrock Council and private companies such as Ford Dagenham and the Port of Tilbury, had been submitted to government on 5 February 2021. He explained that if the bid was successful, the new Freeport would lead to 20,000 new jobs across the borough, billions of pounds of private investment, new training opportunities for residents, and increased wages. He felt that there would be lots of long-term benefits and positive change if the bid was successful.

The Leader then highlighted the amount of rain that had recently fallen across Essex, which had led to increased surface water and flooding risk. He explained that private properties had the responsibility for any flooding that occurred on their land, and management companies often had responsibility for potential flooding risks in blocks of flats. He stated that the Environment Agency managed the local waterways and rivers and residents should report any issues they had directly to them. He commented that if residents had issues with blocked gulleys along highways that could cause flooding, then they should contact Thurrock’s highways team. He summarised and described how the Environment Agency had introduced a flood warning system, which people could sign up to, who would then receive emails regarding potential flooding in their area.

The Leader then stated Thurrock Council had received £120million in COVID support from central government, which included £30million in business grants. He stated that Thurrock had also distributed £6.7million of support to 840 local businesses to help them during the pandemic. He explained that a further £2.4million had been distributed to 375 businesses and 184 hospitality businesses as part of Thurrock’s discretionary grants and top-up fund. He felt that Thurrock were working hard to make the pandemic easier for businesses, and stated that grants were still being distributed to businesses that needed them.

The Leader summarised by explaining the latest COVID figures across the borough up until week ending 4 February 2021. He stated that two weeks ago Thurrock had been the 42nd highest local authority regarding COVID cases, but this had fallen to 86th out of 149 local authorities. He explained that last week there had been: 47 cases in residents aged under 18, a fall from 76 cases the week before; 203 cases in residents aged 18-49, a fall from 325 cases the week before; 58 cases in residents aged 50-59, a fall from 89 cases the week before; 17 cases in residents aged 60-69, a fall from 38 cases the week before; and 30 cases in residents aged over 70, a fall from 475 the week before. He stated that overall there had been 355 total positive cases in the week leading up to 4 February 2021, which had been 575 positive cases in the week before that. He summarised and stated that Thurrock had given out 5493 tests in the week leading up 4 February 2021, and there were currently 201.9 cases per 100,000 across the borough.