This is a national crisis and we’re all in this together

Councillor Simon Hogg, leader of Wandsworth Labour, remarks to Wandsworth Council’s Finance Commitee, Thursday May 7, 2020

Hundreds of people in Wandsworth have now died from Coronavrius and our deepest sympathies are obviously with their friends and families.

Alongside this dreadful illness, we now have a very serious economic collapse.

So many families will be grieving, so many jobs and businesses will be lost.

Locally, I’ve been impressed with the council’s response. Right at the centre of the response – caring for the vulnerable, delivering food, co-ordinating volunteers and providing outpatient services.

I’d like to pay tribute to the council’s officers. Their skill, compassion and professionalism has been extraordinary. Thank you. I hope you know that when we clap on Thursday evenings, we’re clapping for you.

This is a national crisis and we’re all in this together. The Labour Party has worked constructively to help manage this crisis and protect people. While being supportive, it is also our duty to challenge in areas where we think the authorities didn’t get it quite right.

I think Wandsworth’s three local MPs have done a great job. Supporting local people and challenging the national government when it has fallen short.

  • Marsha de Cordova in Battersea has highlighted the impact of Coronavirus on ethnic minority communities.
  • Dr Rosena Allin-Khan in Tooting has spoken from her front-line experience working in St George’s hospital about the slow response on testing and on the supply of PPE.
  • Fleur Anderson in Putney has campaigned for those who have fallen through the cracks in the govt’s support programmes, such as the self-employed.

We should of course pay tribute also to the local volunteers. Picking up shopping and medicine, delivering jigsaws, just having a chat. It’s been lovely. It’s a question for all of us how we can keep this fantastic neighbourly spirit alive.

Wandsworth has spent well beyond existing budgets to protect and support our most vulnerable residents in this crisis.

Two important things follow from that. First, Government must keep its promise to reimburse councils. It would be shameful if they didn’t.

Second, we as councillors must scrutinise carefully how the money has been spent – and we welcome the chance to do that at tonight’s committee.

Everyone’s story is different. We know this lockdown is not affecting people equally. In fact, it has made existing inequalities worse.

It will be a huge challenge but we must recover and rebuild a Wandsworth fairer, stronger and more sustainable.

I hope a we can agree this will be a place where we better value our key workers. Where we don’t have homeless people sleeping on our streets. Where every child has an equal opportunity to learn.

Author: Wandsworth Labour

News and opinion from Wandworth Labour councillors

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