Agenda item

Statement by the Leader of Council


The Leader of Council made the following statement.


We had a milestone this week where deaths within the UK for those who have been diagnosed with Covid within 28 days have risen to above 100,000.  Please join me in a minute’s silence for those who have died during this dreadful pandemic in the UK, Wokingham and the hundreds of thousands of people who have died around the world.


The weekly rate to 22nd January in Wokingham is 266.5 today, which is well below the peak of 606 on the 4th January, but still compares very badly to below 5 in August. Sadly, deaths and hospitalisations will continue to rise for some time.


We can only reduce this significantly if all our residents take full advantage of the lockdown to minimise social contact. Minimisation means only absolutely necessary social contact. If we do, coupled with the roll out of the vaccine, we can look forward to returning to normal around about Easter.


I would like to thank again all those, who have played a part in helping those who have suffered not just the effect of the virus itself but all the problems which have accompanied it. This includes all carers, doctors, health staff, social care staff, health, police, fire, rescue, ambulance, teachers, school staff, charities and volunteers.  In short everybody who has stepped up to the plate and made it possible for life to continue during these appalling times. So, to all of you, a very big thank you.


The ‘golden thread’ within this Borough is the Council; this Administration has sought to knit all its institutions together including health, the voluntary sector, and the blue light services, which have served us well in this emergency.  Our GPs have told us that a provision for mental health is much needed. We have appointed Oxfordshire Mind; the pilot for the next eighteen months has generously been funded by Tatiana and Andrey Borodin of Park Place, to whom I am extremely grateful.


Coronavirus has now been with us for a long time. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the vaccine, developed here in the UK in record time. Thanks to our brilliant scientists.


We in WBC are navigating with a steady hand through the emergency, changing the way we work, supporting all our residents, and ensuring that services run as normally as possible. Whilst this has been expensive financially, it has been possible in the short term.


Much of that which has been done during the height of the crisis, we shall need to do for some time together with all the new requirements. The biggest and most important of which is the roll out of the vaccination across the Borough at the same time ensuring continuity in all our services.


I can only express my huge admiration for the doctors and staff in Wokingham Borough. They have been at the forefront of vaccination delivery in the country. Your doctors are vaccinating almost as soon as they receive deliveries.


This Executive tonight is to approve an additional £1.2 m to be made available during this financial year. This investment is only possible because of the well run and excellent control this Conservative Administration has exerted over the Council finances for many years.


These funds will be made available not only to help the roll out of the vaccination programme but to support a boost to our anti fly tipping initiative, assisting pre-schools, keeping the homeless and rough sleepers off the streets, and supporting charities with whom, along with the pre-schools, are very much part of the vital support structure of our community.


Tonight, you will hear my Executive talk about how this money will be channelled to the areas needed in the community, how it is designed to help get the Borough back on its feet, repair the damage done during the past ten months and ensure those things which have been on hold during the pandemic can start to fully function again as quickly as possible.


This Conservative controlled Council will not be found wanting to support residents be it child hunger, poverty, homelessness or any other need.