It has been great to see thousands of our young people now back in school with more to follow next week. The effort from schools, parents, pupils and council staff to make this happen safely continues to be phenomenal and I want to recognise and thank all those involved.
Everyone is playing their part, from the school caretakers who are facilitating extra cleaning, to the teachers supporting pupils, parents who are following social distancing rules in the playground and the children and young people themselves, who are returning after such a long absence.
It’s great to see so many walking and cycling to school – we’re encouraging this as much as possible, with more School Streets than any other London borough to help them do so safely, and our Streetspace schemes in neighbourhoods across Croydon. Thank you all and please keep up your efforts so that we can keep Croydon safe and our young people never experience such disruption to their education again.
Our infection numbers continue to be low in Croydon and this is down to you – the sterling efforts of our residents. By taking some simple steps – wearing masks, washing our hands and respecting social distancing – we are all literally saving lives. As pupils return to school and more people return to work, it is more important than ever that we all follow the public health guidance to protect our friends and family as sadly, no-one is immune to the loss of loved ones.
While the true cost of Covid has been the loss of life, we all know the economic impact of the pandemic will continue for years to come and local authorities are no exception. As a council we are now facing significant financial challenges from our response to Covid-19 and while we have received some funding, we still have not received the full extent promised by central government to cover our costs. We have acted swiftly to combat this but despite the savings we have made, Croydon is still facing a £49m overspend and, like organisations across the country we will inevitably have to make some very tough decisions in the weeks and months to come. We will be open with you about the challenges we face, listen to your views and protect your local services as much as possible. At the same time, I hope you will support us as we will continue to make our case to central government for fair funding for Croydon.
There is something we can all do to help Croydon’s economic recovery and that is to shop local as much as we can. Our Love Croydon, shop local campaign continues, celebrating our high streets and district centres and we are working with thousands of local businesses to support them. You can do your bit by choosing to shop local where you can – whether that’s enjoying a coffee out with a friend, a meal from one of our fantastic local restaurants, or buying your bread from the bakery on the corner. And if you want to join us in celebrating them, share your pictures on social media with the hashtag #LoveCroydonshoplocal – and check out some of our stories on @YourCroydon.
Have a great weekend – and good luck to those back to school on Monday.
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council