This will be my final video update as the leader of Ealing Council, but before I speak about that I want to give you the latest on COVID-19, the Indian variant and Monday’s further release from lockdown says Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, in his latest video.
The current rate of COVID-19 cases in the borough is 41.3 per 100,000 of population, an increase from last week and the third highest rate in London.
As you will have seen from media reports, the Indian variant is in London and cases are rising rapidly. We do have cases in Ealing and we are dealing with them appropriately. The council would like to reassure residents that there is currently no evidence to suggest that this variant is more serious than others, or that the regulated vaccines would not protect against them.
We are not in the same position as Bolton currently is but, if things do worsen, I do think that the government should carry out localised surge vaccinations and testing to suppress the spread of this variant. An increase in the self-isolation payment to people with symptoms or testing positive is, I believe, also critical to stopping the spread of the virus. We must also all continue to follow the hands, face, space and fresh air rules, get tested if we do or don’t have symptoms and also get the vaccination when our turn comes or if we still haven’t had it.
On Monday, we see the long awaited return of indoor hospitality at restaurants, pubs and cafes and also us being able to mix households in our private homes. We can also mix in groups up to 30 outdoors and also make overnight stays. This will all come as a very welcome relief to everyone and, if we all behave responsibly, should be able to be done in a safe way. Let’s support our local hospitality businesses and enjoy some return to normality.
Final video, pride and best wishes
As I have said, this is my final video update as leader of Ealing Council after 11 years of service to our great borough. This coming Tuesday the council will hold its annual general meeting and I will be handing over the leadership to my Labour colleague Councillor Peter Mason and I want to offer him my full support and my best wishes as he takes on this challenging role.
During these last 11 years it has been the greatest honour and privilege of my life to lead this borough that I love. I want to put on record my thanks to the many people and partner organisations that I have been able to work with over this time to serve the people of Ealing. As a team we have achieved many things.
I’m proud that we stopped the biggest-ever NHS reorganisation, which threatened our local hospitals, and which we couldn’t have done without during this COVID-19 pandemic; proud that we were the first council to introduce a PSPO (public space protection order) to protect women at the Mattock Lane clinic; proud that we have transformed our waste service into one of the best-performing in London; proud that we have delivered thousands of new genuinely affordable homes and are building council homes at scale for the first time in a generation; proud that we took a lead on taking child refugees from the Calais camps and are continuing to welcome unaccompanied asylum seeking children to the borough; and proud that we have managed to protect our essential services despite crippling government austerity.
I’m also extremely proud of the work that we have done to promote sustainable travel and to tackle the triple crises of inactivity and obesity, air pollution that kills prematurely over 9,000 Londoners every year and the climate crisis that threatens the very existence of the human species. These are all issues that remain close to my heart and that I will continue to fight for. Thank you very much.