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:


Trouble and Violence in the Middle East:  The Leader reflected on the trouble and violence in the Middle East and acknowledged the long road ahead for lasting peace.  The loss of lives was truly heartbreaking, and the Leader called for more safe routes to be opened for humanitarian support, with a pause in fighting to allow for safe corridors out of Gaza for citizens and to allow humanitarian aiders to work in Gaza.  The Leader praised fellow Councillors who had led by example as community leaders and were supporting their residents. 


Autumn Statement: The Leader referred to the Autumn Statement, which had been released earlier in the day and the recent Government reshuffle, with the Prime Minister bringing back David Cameron into Government.  The Autumn Statement included the unfreezing of the local housing allowance which was much needed; however this fell short of the support that Councils needed to help their residents through the winter months.  The Leader advised that the unfreezing would not come in until the new financial year, and therefore would not help residents this year, despite the ongoing cost of living crisis.  The Leader commented that London Councils alone were facing a £600m shortfall this year, resulting in a need for Council Tax to be increased once again.


Seoul Digital Foundation, Thames Freeport and Connected Places Catapult Agreement:  In November, the Council agreed to a groundbreaking partnership with the Seoul Digital Foundation, Thames Freeport and Connected Places Catapult to launch a Smart Homes Innovation Hub in Barking and Dagenham.  The agreement was seen as the start of a long-term relationship to collaboratively develop smart city and smart home technology, promoting sustainable living, connectivity and urban development.


Interfaith week and Trans day of Remembrance: In support of local communities, the Council celebrated Interfaith Week and reflected on Trans Day of Remembrance to support all residents in the borough.  As part of the celebrations, the Council raised both flags outside of the Town Hall.  The Leader was proud that LBBD celebrates all in the community.


Weavers Quarter:  The Leader commented on the recent events at Weavers Quarter, Barking, where a balcony façade fell from the first floor.  Thankfully no one was hurt and it had not affected the building infrastructure directly.  LBBD owned the freehold and the land and since the incident Reside had investigated the incident and erected scaffolding and secured the balconies on site.  Bouygues Construction advised that they had urgently carried out checks and conducted remedial work required as part of their 12-year contract with L&Q.  The Leader assured residents that Bouygues and L&Q would be held to account. 


The Leader thanked Ward Councillors for their support to their residents during this time. Councillor Cormack, Ward Councillor for Gascoigne Ward, made a short statement on Weavers Quarter, addressing the concerns of residents who felt let down by Reside, L&Q, Bouygues and the Council.  It was acknowledged that there were outstanding issues across Weavers Quarter and there was an urgent need to make sure that all outstanding issues with balconies were resolved.  Concluding his statement, the Leader expressed his gratitude to all Councillors of LBBD for their support of residents in the current climate and their continuing commitment to the borough.