Over the last two weeks, it has been wonderful to see so many of you supporting our local businesses as some of them welcome back customers for the first time in months.
The social distancing measures we have put in place in our town and district centres are designed to help you do so as safely as possible, and I want to thank everyone who has been following them.
And with our pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and many more getting ready to reopen on 4 July, we are working with those sectors to help them do this as safely as they can, whether that’s by introducing outdoor seating areas or accessing PPE.
I’m sure many of you are looking forward to a pint in your local or perhaps even a haircut and supporting our local economy is hugely important at this time.
We’re doing all we can to help you do it safely, so please do your bit and stay safe too, by following the latest social distancing guidance at all times.
We’re also looking at how we might begin to safely reopen more council buildings, such as libraries, and I look forward to updating you on this soon.
Earlier this week our £6.25m Legacy Youth Zone announced plans for reopening, and this is a hugely important step forward in terms of the support and opportunities this offers our young people, particularly at such a challenging time.
So as we head towards another milestone on our recovery, I also want to thank everyone who has worked so hard to get us this far –our fantastic NHS, our own council staff, our businesses and all our partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as all of you – Croydon has truly pulled together, and continues to do so.
However while there begins to be light at the end of the tunnel, there is still a very long way to go.
This pandemic has had a devastating impact on our economy and the consequences will continue for a long time.
I know many of you are already suffering from the impact of this and sadly more households are likely to be affected before we are through this health crisis.
So we continue to do our best to look after those hardest hit – those who are still shielded, the elderly, the vulnerable and all those experiencing hardship.
Like local authorities across the country Croydon has spent millions on supporting our community through Covid-19 – from swiftly setting up hubs to deliver food and essential supplies to thousands, to providing welfare support to many, many more.
Yet despite assurances from the Government at the start of this pandemic that we would be fairly funded for this work, to date councils have only received back a fraction of what they have spent.
And like private enterprises, we have also lost many of our sources of income.
Local government has been underfunded for many years, and the impact of the pandemic has created the perfect financial storm.
As a result, local government is facing the greatest funding challenge in a generation.
We did whatever it took and continue to do whatever it takes – now we need Government to play its part, honour its pledges and pay Croydon back the millions we were promised.
But while we continue to lobby Government on this, we are not sitting around waiting – in Croydon we are tackling our financial challenges head on. Covid-19 has changed everything and we must also change to ensure that we meet the emerging needs of our community.
It has never been more vital that we address inequalities and make sure that we look after our residents that need it the most.
We are also planning ahead for Croydon’s long-term future. Earlier this week, we brought together our local and regional partners and developers for the first meeting of our Sustainable Economic Renewal Board.
The Croydon that emerges from Covid-19 will be a different place and together we will work to make sure that our borough will be revived as a stronger, more sustainable, fairer place for all.
Have a good weekend, and to those of you celebrating – Happy Global Pride Day tomorrow.
Councillor Tony Newman, leader of the council