Monday, March 30, 2020

Protecting Public Health in the Stratford Centre - Special Newham Council Cabinet meeting 27.3.20

On Friday evening we held a special virtual Cabinet meeting under the Council's urgency rules in order to agree to ask the Courts to close Stratford Shopping centre between 8pm and 5am.

This was chaired by our Executive Mayor, Rokhsana Fiaz.

It followed Government advice (and financial support) to protect all rough sleepers by offering suitable alternative accommodation.

We had to have a quorum of 3 cabinet members (Mayor, myself and Cllr Julianne Marriott) physically present since the Government have not yet been able to change these legal requirements. As you can see we exercised self distancing but it would be better to hold all such meetings virtually.

Cabinet member for Adult Services, Cllr Zulfiqar Ali, presented the report from his home online.

However, other Cabinet, Executive and Scrutiny Chairs were able to Skype into the meeting to ask questions on the report to ourselves and our chief officers present, which  included our Chief Executive, Monitoring officer, Director of Adult Social services and Director of Public Health (in person and online).

There was a robust but constructive debate on the report which resulted in unanimous support for the call to close the centre overnight to save lives. Only the vote of the 3 Cabinet members actually physically present were legally valid.

On Saturday morning the Court agreed to issue the order and the Stratford Centre was closed. We were able to house around 30 rough sleepers on Saturday and 15 last night. Without being complacent in the slightest, I cycled around the Stratford Centre early this evening and I only saw one rough sleeper. No doubt there was more.

Many, many thanks to the Newham Council & homeless charity outreach officers and all our  voluntary sector colleagues for their superb work and commitment to protecting our most vulnerable. 

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