My Labour council councillor colleagues and I have been blown away by the amazing efforts of community groups, key workers, NHS staff, the voluntary sector, local business and so many others who are helping residents through these hard times. That absolutely includes the work being done by the Council and its officers, but we also believe there is still a lot more it can be doing.
Westminster Labour argue that the council should be helping vulnerable residents with transport to be able to access vaccination centres and do more, with the local NHS, to ensure housebound residents are being reached and vaccinated at home if particularly they are unable to increase the number of local vaccination sites.
We have been keeping up the pressure on the council to push them to do more to ensure that every child who needs a laptop for remote learning for remote learning receives one, drawing attention to the piecemeal response from the Department for Education and the Council that has left children having to rely on charitable donations and emergency funding from the council’s ward budgets (such as the 30 laptops for Essendine School approved by Labour Councillors in Maida Vale). We know there are still at least 700 children in need of laptops.
The Council’s efforts to try to tackle vaccine hesitancy amongst vulnerable groups in our community are important but we have been making the case that there needs to be a more collaborative approach with voluntary sector, community and faith groups to determine what messages are most appropriate and to ensure that such messages are coming from the right people. This should also involve training for the voluntary sector to be able to discuss confidently about the vaccine with their communities and funding to support such work, operating in partnership with the volunteers who are currently carrying too much of the burden of such work alone.
Our councillors have also raised concerns about Westminster only approving 41% of applicants for the Test and Trace Support payments that are designed to support people who have been asked to self-isolate, compared to 75% in neighbouring Camden, with Westminster so far unwilling to use its own funds to fill the gaps.
Councillor Nafsika Butler-Thalassis, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Westminster City Council
Labour Councillor for Maida Vale ward