Westminster Labour is calling for the Council to undertake an independent, expert-led review of its pandemic response now that some of the short-term pressures are beginning to recede. The review should focus on learning lessons that can help the council going forwards in responding to new challenges or any future issues that may still arise from the current Covid crisis.
Labour believes that throughout the pandemic council officers have worked incredibly hard to support local residents and there have been a number of areas where the council has done well but others where it was initially slow to act or where political decisions were taken that meant Westminster was unwilling to go beyond the basic levels of support required by government. Westminster had to deal with a number of unique challenges given its position at the heart of Central London but also faced similar challenges to councils around the country in supporting residents at a time of great need and it is important to examine how Westminster balanced these differing priorities.
Westminster Council needs to learn from both what went well and what didn’t to strengthen our processes and preparedness for the future. Any review should also examine the engagements between the Council and other stakeholders such as the NHS (and its CCGs), the GLA, other pan-London collaboration and the UK Government looking at how interagency collaboration can be improved.
An independent review should empower non-partisan commissioners to be able to speak with officers, councillors, community organisations and residents, with effective methods for people to be able share their views both publicly and confidentially. The Commissioners should also have appropriate access to council records and communications to get a full picture of what has happened. The findings of the review should inform the council’s approach to reforming its processes and services over the coming years.
Westminster Labour Group leader Cllr Adam Hug said “It is time for Westminster Council to take stock of the extraordinary events of the last year to learn lessons for the future to better serve our residents and businesses”.