Last night, the Council’s Cabinet met to discuss a report on how the borough has been impacted by coronavirus; how the Council has responded in supporting residents – particularly the vulnerable – and businesses, while keeping vital frontline services going; and how local organisations, businesses and hundreds of volunteers had come together in the joint effort.
We all agreed the way the Council and its communities have pulled together has been truly inspiring. It’s been a real joint effort of so many individuals, organisations and businesses; we’ve really seen the best of the borough.
However, we also agreed that without a major programme of investment, reform and collaboration the looming economic impact could be catastrophic. It is projected that Hounslow will be the second hardest hit borough in London, with a 40 per cent drop in economic activity and tens of thousands of jobs at risk because of its close links to the aviation industry.
We need to bring the borough together, to galvanise communities, local organisations, businesses and partners to rise to the challenge. It will also take a regional effort, working alongside neighbouring boroughs, and we need the Government to provide us with the necessary financial measures, investment and policy freedom. It’s not about handouts, but we need the tools and partnership working to provide local solutions and capture opportunities to support and empower our communities.
The voice of our residents, businesses and community groups will be essential in this. We need to hear from as many people as possible, to find out what you need or how you can help, and we will be stepping up our efforts on engagement. I’ll be updating you with more on that shortly.
We’re setting up a new Hounslow Recovery Board to lead on supporting the borough. It will be underpinned by boards covering economy, community, environment, and health and wellbeing, on which will be representatives from partner organisations, community groups and businesses. Projects include a piece of work to understand the impact of coronavirus and lockdown on our BAME communities, and to explore how the Council can better support them through the growing economic impact.
There’s no doubt things will be tough, but I have so much faith in the people of Hounslow and believe we will make the best of it and be stronger for it.