Opinion: Lack of strong national leadership or clear guidance

Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor thinks residents have been amazing during the coronavirus pan

Haringey Council leader Joseph Ejiofor thinks residents have been amazing during the coronavirus pandemic. - Credit: Archant

After several weeks in lockdown, the country – and our borough – continues to take tentative steps forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.

To say this period has been challenging is an understatement, particularly for the most vulnerable among us, and sadly there will be people who have lost loved ones to the virus.

For weeks we’ve been away from families, friends and our favourite places, and like me, I’m sure you’re all eager to return to a sense of normality. But there’s no shortcut back. As we continue to move forward without the strong leadership and clear guidance we need and expect from national government during a global pandemic, I would urge everyone to be mindful of others and to act with care.

I’ve been inspired by the many acts of kindness I’ve seen over recent weeks. Hundreds of residents have given time, money, and compassion to help each other. Our hubs at Alexandra Palace and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium have been able to deliver food and essentials to households in need thanks to donations from businesses and hard work by volunteers supporting council staff. Meanwhile, thousands of pounds have been raised for our most vulnerable people through Haringey Giving (please do still visit our Haringey Together webpages if you’re able to help).

The council has had to adapt. Many staff have taken on new roles or worked in unfamiliar circumstances to get things done.

From keeping waste services running, keeping parks open, and widening pavements for social distancing, to leading a London-wide project to secure emergency PPE for care workers and finding emergency accommodation for those sleeping rough, I’m proud of the steps we have taken to keep our residents safe. Of course, it has cost us millions, and we have called on central government to keep their promise to reimburse us and other councils across the country. In light of everything we as a society have achieved in the face of coronavirus, no government can now deny the importance of strong public services. There can be no return to austerity, which has failed our young people, our older people, and our most vulnerable residents, for the last decade. The government must now invest in the people and the institutions that help make our communities resilient and united.

As schools continue to reopen more widely, I am trusting that school governors have done the relevant risk assessments to minimise the risks of spreading the coronavirus to/from pupils, staff and parents.

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I also want to thank the amazing teachers and staff who have been working throughout the pandemic to be there for our young people.

I also want to thank again the NHS, carers and key workers who have done this borough proud. Next week, high streets are starting to reopen more widely, and there will be many more steps for us to take as the weeks go on.

You, our residents, have been amazing.

Please, let’s keep this up, and keep our neighbours and our communities safe.