'Keeping people safe in the shadow of Covid'

Westminster Council leader Cllr Rachael Robathan

Westminster Council leader Cllr Rachael Robathan - Credit: Westminster Council

We start the New Year in the unwelcome shadow of renewed Covid restrictions.

The council is doing everything it can to encourage vaccine take up – promoting walk-in centres, pharmacies, and our roving vaccination bus.

The Westminster Connects volunteer team is there to ensure the vulnerable get help while advice is available for people struggling with bills. That’s why we’ve worked hard to make sure Westminster’s council tax is the lowest in the country as we know any increase hits those on lower incomes the hardest.

Away from Covid, you’ve told us three things are key concerns – homelessness, feeling safe and clean streets.

The council’s rough sleeping teams go out seven days a week offering free accommodation, food, and help with addiction. We spend £7m a year on rough sleeping services, more than any other council. For people who want to give individually, there are details on our website of how you can donate to charities which work with rough sleepers.

Talking to people across the city, I know safety is a worry. I can update you that our Soho Angels scheme has relaunched and is expanding to the busiest parts of the city. In addition, the Metropolitan Police is providing an extra 50 officers to its existing Westminster team to patrol the most popular areas.

On the environment, the council will expand its food recycling waste service to cover all Westminster households by the end of 2022 – significant when nearly a third of our waste comes from the kitchen. The installation of electric vehicle charging points continues with a further 500 being added to the 1,000 already on the streets, making us a UK leader in this technology. Our seven day a week street cleaning operation will soon be an all-electric fleet powered by incinerated rubbish.

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Our focus remains on delivering affordable homes, ensuring children go to a good school, grow up in a greener Westminster, and older residents get the care they need.

Against a challenging backdrop, the council remains committed to business as usual – providing excellent services at value-for-money.

Rachael Robathan (Con) is leader of Westminster Council.