Resolution passed at an online EC meeting on 30th March 2020 under lockdown conditions.
This EC welcomes the Council initiative in setting up the # Help Newham Network of local hubs to distribute food, essential supplies and medicines to the most vulnerable. The provision of a chat line is also commended.
This EC recognises the hard work put in to achieve these services in the face of this unprecedented crisis amidst the dither and delay of the government. As LP members we pay tribute to the heroic work of all those delivering front line services and the army of selfless volunteers from within our community.
There is much more that needs to be done and as elected officers we ask you to involve us, to work in close collaboration with us and use us as a resource to inform and assist your decision making.
This EC therefore calls upon the Council, in addition to its current actions to do the following:
1. To publish a fully comprehensive plan on how it intends to deal with the crisis. We expect the Council to be open, transparent and democratic – the community needs to be not only involved in action but be part of the decision-making process. The Council should call upon the expertise and voluntary support of over 4000 members of the LP across the two CLPs.
2. Give full support to the Newham Community Support Covid-19 Mutual Aid groups that have been formed as well other as street level groups working to support the vulnerable. To include:
- groups to be invited to contribute to the teleconferencing sessions to ensure collaboration so that provision on the ground is informed by intelligence from community activists
- supplying of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to volunteers
- testing of volunteers when available
- financial support and council officer back up to support community groups
- Publicise a borough wide hotline number around Newham. Calls would be logged with follow up help to direct people to their local mutual aid group, local hub, as well as other agencies that can give specialist advice and help.
- Produce a weekly broadsheet with an update on the virus, health advice and contact details of support. The council should work with Royal Mail on the delivery of these.
4. Repurpose unused or under utilised resources e.g. communications resources, vehicles etc that can be used for food delivery, hospital transport, medical equipment deliveries etc.
5.Take any appropriate action to protect the vulnerable migrant communities as per the Migrants’ Rights Letter sent to Chief Execute of the Council 20th March 2020.
- Set up a housing task force of officers for a rapid response to those at risk of eviction
- Impose prohibitive sanctions and penalties on landlords attempting to evict residents during the current crisis
- HMOs should be regarded as priority areas for testing and support
- Introduce a 12 week moratorium on Council rents, Council tax etc as well as overpayment or backlog of rent shortfall and other Council debt faced by people on low incomes affected by Covid-19.Provide PPE for small local retailers staying open as essential services.
7. To provide PPE to any Council staff who are still working and whose job requires interaction with customers. Issue safeguarding and health advice to all employees. Stop all disciplinary and grievance action until the crisis is over.
8. Contact all care homes in the borough and offer material support and advice. Ensure that all workers including those providing social care to those with disabilities are given the correct PPE, this includes agency carers and those privately sourced.
9. Introduce a package of financial measures to stop people being forced to work because of little or no income to include a hardship fund and short term financial loans at low interest rates. These should be widely communicated to support people who fear they cannot afford to self-isolate.
10. We are supportive of the Nightingale Hospital in the Excel Centre. Local residents have voiced concerns over the lack of information circulated regarding any possible increased risks, raised in the risk assessment of the facility. Residents need to know:
- What containment measures are in place and how effective they are?
- Whether staff will be commuting daily or whether they will remain on site?
- Is there an exclusion zone, and if so what is the boundary?
- Will there be greater monitoring of Covid-19 both on the site and surrounding areas to ensure the facility is containing the virus?
- Will all staff be issued with protective clothing as a rule?
Many of the points raised in this paper may have already been addressed or partially addressed within the last few days and the point is, as LP officers in West Ham, we are unaware of the progress being made. As activists and grassroots campaigners we have access to our communities and have strong established relationships. We want the Council to use us for support and look forward to our offer being taken up in the spirit in which it has been offered.
Solidarity from West Ham EC