Agenda item

Leader's Statement

The Leader will present his statement.


The Leader presented a verbal statement updating the Assembly on a range of matters since the last meeting, including the following:


Central Government:  The Leader criticised the many policy U-turns by the Government over the summer period, most notably on Climate Change, which he felt harmed the country going forward. 


Visit by Sir Keir Starmer:  Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, recently attended Sydney Russell School and participated in the School Debating Team’s discussion on the Climate Change agenda.  Bridget Philipson, Shadow Education Minister, was also in attendance for the visit.


Housing: The Council found itself facing higher bills for repairs and maintenance to its properties following the Covid pandemic and as a consequence of the Government’s ongoing austerity programme.  Residents were struggling to heat their homes due to the cost-of-living crisis, which had increased issues with mould and damp in their homes.   The Leader advised that the Council had already addressed hundreds of mould and damp cases and continued to liaise closely with the Housing Ombudsman to ensure that every home with issues was dealt with.  The Leader commented that similar issues were being faced by Councils across the country, and not just by Labour-led Councils as had recently been alluded to by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.


Medium Term Financial Plan: Members of the Council had recently attended a briefing on the Council’s current financial situation, where it was explained that, across the local government sector, there was a projected £300bn funding shortfall.  In respect of Barking and Dagenham, the Leader advised that for every £1 the Council received from the Government in 2010, it now only received the equivalent of 66p.  The Leader commented that despite that significant reduction in funding, the Council had been very proactive in addressing its financial pressures and he was confident that it would not be necessary to issue a Section 114 notice.


OFSTED: Following a recent OFSTED inspection, 96% of schools in the borough were now rated as ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’. The Leader thanked the Cabinet Member for Educational Attainment and School Improvement, her predecessors, the Borough’s schools and Council staff for all their efforts working with the borough’s young people.


Industria Barking:  Industria, working in partnership with Be First, had brought the first multi-storey industrial development in the country to Long Reach Road in Barking. 


A House for Artists: The Leader was pleased to announce that the Council’s ‘A House for Artists’ social housing scheme had been nominated for the RIBA Stirling prize, the highest accolade in UK architecture. A House for Artists was an ambitious model for affordable and sustainable housing tied to long-term public engagement in Barking Town Centre. 


Nigerian Independence Day: Nigerian Independence Day would be recognised on Friday 29 September with a flag raising ceremony at the Town Hall.


Black History Month:  Black History Month would again be celebrated throughout October and the Council were holding a variety of events across the Borough in recognition of the contribution of the black community.