Mayor's Blog

Thursday 11th February

I hope you, your families and loved one are well and safe as we contend with the
ongoing challenge of Covid-19, as well as the snow conditions this week – which
would have been fun for our youngsters in the borough but could have been
dangerous for our elderly and vulnerable residents. We’ve been working on gritting
the roads across all our major roads and high streets, plus areas around all our Covid19 testing and vaccination sites. You can read more about what we’ve been doing
in response to the severe weather conditions here [insert hyperlink:].

On the Covid-19 front, this week Public Health England (PHE) issued a statement about
a new variant ‘under investigation’ that has been discovered and another ‘variant of
concern’ – and you can read more about these here [insert hyperlink:]. Being investigated by the ‘New and Emerging
Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group’ (NERVTAG), which advises the Chief Medical
Advisor, SAGE, and the Department of Health and Social Care, experts have classified
a coronavirus mutation first identified in Bristol as a ‘variant of concern’, and the one
under investigation, was discovered in Liverpool.

So far, PHE has identified 76 cases of these two new variants, and say that they have
‘a high degree of confidence that the vaccines will work against variants’; and the
government has launched door-to-door testing in parts of the country (including in
London) where the other South African variant has been identified.

While that is good news, we must remain vigilant, as the UK recorded another 678
deaths and 13,494 positive cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours; and another 1,842
people admitted to hospital. On the vaccine front, more than 13.5 million people in
the UK have had at least one vaccine dose as of 10 February.

Medical experts this week have also aired concerns about the potential low take-up
by some ethnic minority communities – and you can watch a video of England’s
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam talk about this and his
worry about the spread of fake news about the vaccines here too [insert link:]. In a borough like Newham,
where 73 percent of our resident population are from ethnic minorities, it is a worry for
me too. I want all our residents protected and would urge you to not to be worried
about getting vaccinated when you time comes, as we must all work together to halt
the spread of Covid-19.

That’s why we have launched a programme of fortnightly Covid-19 vaccination
information sessions, to find out more from our Public Health team, Newham NHS and
medical experts. We’ve also launched a ‘Vaccine Peer Support’ [insert hyperlink:] network
of residents who are kept updated about the vaccines. So if you’re interested in
becoming one, or attending one of the Covid-19 vaccinations information sessions,
please email:

Here in Newham, another 74 residents have tested positive in the last 24 hours
following a lab-confirmed or lateral flow test, bringing our ‘official’ total so far to 33,738
people since the start of the pandemic. Since yesterday, another 3 residents have
died, within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the total to 590 deaths (within 28 days
of being tested positive); and the number of residents that have ‘Covid-19’ recorded
as cause on their death certificate in the past week stands at 46, bringing that total
to 667. My heartfelt condolences to their loved ones.

In the past week, we also know that the number of new cases of Covid-19 has fallen
(as have positivity rates) which is really good news – but community transmission
continues and the new variant is highly transmissible, so we need to keep alert and
follow all the current lockdown restrictions in place. You can read more via our weekly
Covid-19 dashboard here [insert hyperlink:].

As I sign off for this week, I wanted to let you know that yesterday we published our
Budget proposals for the 2021/22 – 22/23 period; as we’ve had to make changes to
the three-year budget we passed last year because of the impact of Covid-19 on the
Council’s finances. Covid-19 has cost the Council £75 million, and the government
hasn’t followed through on its promise to us that it would give us the money we need
to support and protect you.

From the start of the pandemic, I have worked around the clock to make sure we
protect all our residents, because my job as Mayor is to listen your concerns and be
you champion. I have heard from so many of you about your struggles and my priority
has been to make sure Newham Council supports our community in these awful times.

That’s why I’ve been taking action to support all residents, including our most
vulnerable and families hit hard by the crisis. We are making a difference by:

• Providing £500 of support per child per year for working families by guaranteeing
Eat for Free for all children in Newham primary schools
• Helping people in overcrowded homes to self-isolate by providing hotels for
those who have to self-isolate but can’t afford to
• Treating the homeless as people by not just getting them off the streets during
the crisis, but providing them with training, support and understanding they need
to change keep them in a home.

I am proud of the way our community has stood together since the pandemic.
Council has supported voluntary groups to distribute 264,000 food parcels to
vulnerable residents. With so many people struggling financially, I have asked Council
to do more by setting up a Covid-19 Hardship Relief Fund to help people hardest hit
who cannot pay this week’s food bill.

It appals me that children in London should ever go hungry. So I have teamed up with
some of the world’s leading food experts who are going to help me make sure that
our young people never have to wake up worrying if they will get a square meal. And
please know this, that if you:

• Have lost your job, we’re here for you
• Are struggling financially, we can help you
• Are a local business owner, we’re working night and day to get business grants to

As you Mayor, all of us here at the Council are here to help you, your loved ones and

You can find out more about the Budget proposals here [insert link:],
and in the meantime – stay safe and please continue to follow the Covid-19


As we come to the end of another week in this New Year, Covid-19 continues to
dominate our lives with more news on vaccines, increased hospital admissions, cases
and deaths. Today the UK recorded another 1, 290 deaths within 28 days of a positive
test and 37, 892 cases.

Yesterday, the UK reached another grim milestone with the highest number of Covid19 deaths recorded in a single day since the start of the pandemic last year,
representing 1,802 people no longer with their families who are now devastated and

In Newham, 413 people have tested positive in the last 24 hours, bringing the total so
far to 30,224; and in the past week a further 60 residents have lost their lives to this
ravaging virus. My thoughts are with all of their loved ones.

With the risks still so high, it remains absolutely vital that we all continue to stick to the
lockdown rules and stay at home. You can read the latest Newham statistics on our
Covid-19 dashboard here:

Hope continues to break through in the form of the vaccine, with over-70s now being
invited to attend vaccination appointments. With the NHS so busy, it is important that
you wait until you are invited to book a vaccination, please don’t contact the NHS
until you are asked. It is also so, so important that those who are offered a vaccine
take it. It is only through mass vaccination that we will be able to return to normality
and focus on a brighter future. There is more information about the Covid-19 vaccine
on our website here:
vaccination; and our public health team are holding fortnightly vaccine webinars on
Zoom, where you can find out more and ask any questions. Full details are included
in the link above.

I’m also pleased that we are offering community testing for Covid-19 at a number of
sites in the borough, meaning people who are asymptomatic can get a test. We’re
especially keen for people in high-risk groups – including those in multi-generational
households, those living with someone who is shielding, carers and those who have to
go out to work to get tested. You can find out more about all the test sites in Newham,
including advice on support you can access if you need to self-isolate, in the news
section below.

This week, I made two big announcements which underlines my unstinting
commitment to support all our youngsters in the borough. As part of our 2021 Newham
Year of Young Person plans, I announced that we will keep the full investment of £6
million in our Eat for Free programme, which offers a nutritious and healthy lunchtime
meal to all primary school children in the borough, regardless of background. The
programme is part of our ongoing commitment to supporting the health and
wellbeing of all young people – and our longstanding plans to address poverty and
inequality in Newham. You can read more here:

Earlier today, I also announced the launch of an expert-led food security initiative to
stamp out food poverty facing children and young people in the borough, which has
been compounded by the economic impact of Covid-19. Building on the raft of
measures put in place to support Newham children and families during the pandemic,
investing over £6 million to date; and part of our ‘Towards a Better Newham’ recovery
action plan; we will be addressing the impact of poverty facing more and more
young people across all age groups in the Borough, including holiday hunger. Read
more here:

With input from world-renowned experts and £20,000 initial funding from the Health
Foundation, the UK’s leading health promotion charity, the ‘Young People and Food
Security’ initiative will work with children, young people and their families to map the
scale of food security challenges facing households in Newham. The work of the
experts will shape a new strategy and programme of interventions to tackle holiday
hunger facing young people which will be launched in summer 2021.

Experts from the Association for Young People’s Health will work alongside health
inequality specialist, Professor Natalie Savona from the London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine; as well as Steven Allender, Professor of Public Health and founding
Director of the Global Obesity Centre (GLOBE) at Deakin University in Melbourne. Their
work will feed into policy proposals and interventions being developed by a working
group of Cabinet members, Councillors and Council officers that I established last
year to develop an action plan to support families at risk, or facing, food insecurity in

Having talked about hope for the future, I couldn’t finish without reflecting on the
tremendous scenes from the United States yesterday, as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
were finally sworn in as President and Vice-President. Watching Kamala Harris being
sworn into office as the first woman, and the first woman of colour, to take the office
of Vice President was emotional and inspiring. I hope their inauguration gives us all
reason to feel more positive about our international future, and already there have
been a raft of Presidential actions that are cause for celebration: addressing the
COVID-19 crisis, including re-joining the World Health Organisation; signing up again
to the Paris Climate Accord as part of actions to tackle the climate emergency;
removing the travel ban affecting Muslim-majority countries; and halting further
funding or construction to the wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. All
reasons to be hopeful.

I want to end my message tonight, by encouraging you to watch the powerful
inauguration poem by 22-year old Amanda Gorman. She made history as the
youngest inaugural poet ever, with her evocative ‘The Hill We Climb’ poem, which
you can view here: The following words of her poem especially resonated with
me, as I reflected on what we are doing and achieving for all our residents in

‘We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is
bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned
around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will
be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But
one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love
becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright’

In the meantime, as always, please stay at home and stay safe. Let’s keep working
together to protect everyone in this wonderful community of ours enriched by the
diversity of its people.

Link to Instagram Link to Twitter Link to YouTube Link to Facebook Link to LinkedIn Link to Snapchat Close Fax Website Location Phone Email Calendar Building Search