Balancing economy and environment

PUBLISHED: 08:30 25 July 2020

City and East AM Unmesh Desai is concerned about Newham post lockdown.

City and East AM Unmesh Desai is concerned about Newham post lockdown.


The London Assembly Health Committee has started a major investigation into the Covid-19 outbreak and the lessons we must learn.

I have asked Newham’s director of Public Health about the disparity between the number of reported cases and deaths locally and those of other London boroughs with similar demographics and levels of deprivation. This is a topic I have also recently spoken on at the council’s scrutiny committee.

Ahead of an anticipated second wave in the winter, it is crucial that we pinpoint the reasons behind why Newham has a very high mortality rate and almost as many cases as Tower Hamlets and Barking and Dagenham combined.

I continue to be concerned about government funding for the Met Police. The pandemic has already left in its wake a bleak financial picture for local government and public services, so it’s imperative that the government keeps its previous promises to put more officers on our streets to ensure that we can continue to clamp down on violent crime.

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Elsewhere, I recently attended a protest surrounding proposed changes to parking arrangements in Green Street.

I was invited by the local traders’ association, who are concerned about what they feel to be the current lack of a meaningful consultation.

While we must keep doing more to tackle air pollution and ensure that our streets can facilitate social distancing, the plan should take everyone’s needs into account as far as possible.

You may have also seen news about the council’s democracy review. It is perhaps unfortunate that the review seems to present its recommendation that we should retain the current mayoral system as the only viable option.

We need an extended, mature debate about which system can best meet future challenges, because the main concern is how services can be delivered successfully under unprecedented financial and resourcing pressures. Accordingly, the people of Newham must be trusted to decide on their own future in as open manner as possible.

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