I think it’s safe to say that since the election in May, myself and my fellow Cabinet Members have been faced with a steep learning curve.
As I’ve said before, the Council is facing the toughest financial pressures that have been seen for a generation and the Cabinet will have to make some extremely difficult decisions about the way the Council does business as we move towards setting a new budget in March next year. Despite the challenging circumstances though, I’m proud to be able to talk about a number of achievements the new administration has made during its first 100 days.
The first 100 days
Firstly, we’ve cut councillor allowances to make sure that people are in politics for the right reasons– to represent the communities who elected them and change things for the better. We also shook up the Council’s bureaucratic processes by getting rid of area committees and introducing local forums. This is going to be important to make sure we are having the right conversations with residents as the Council changes how it works over the next few years.
Free thirty minute parking
Free thirty minute parking is also in place and will be fully implemented across Redbridge by the end of September, together with the removal of parking restrictions on Bank Holidays. This is a substantial step forward in supporting local business in our town centres as customers will be able to make short visits without having to worry about the cost of parking.
Free bulky waste
We’ve extended free bulky waste collection to cover the whole of Redbridge and will be reviewing the way the Council carries out its enforcement activities to clamp down on fly tipping. We also introduced weekly street sweeping to keep our neighbourhoods spic and span, and increased funding for crime prevention. Enabling residents to take pride in the way the Borough looks and feels is one of our top priorities.
South Woodford library investment
We secured the future of South Woodford library through an investment of £600,000 to help it diversify and meet the changing needs and tastes of the local population; distributed £196,000 of match funding through the Council Community Fund and invested a further £2.15m to increase the Council’s affordable housing stock through the Purchase and Repair scheme.
The next 100 days
I’ve been working closely with the rest of the Cabinet to develop the Council’s new Corporate Strategy, which will set out the values and key priorities until 2018. Putting forward a clear vision about what the organisation stands for and where it’s going is essential to make sure we make the right decisions during the difficult times ahead.
We’ll be consulting on a property licensing scheme to improve the quality of private rented accommodation in Redbridge and tackle anti-social behavior. This will include, among other things, measures to get tough on landlords who put beds in sheds and will build on the work the Council is already carrying out with its partners to tackle the issue. We are committed to helping residents find decent housing in the borough and driving up standards in the private rented sector.
We will also publish our initial budget proposals for discussion with residents about how the Council spends money and the services it provides.
We’re busy working up a range of initiatives to support residents struggling with the cost of living, and details of the long-awaited swimming pool in Ilford will finally be published.
An exciting time despite the challenges
All in all, it’s an exciting time at the Town Hall. Despite the budget cuts and uncertainty about the future, I want the Council to be at the forefront of fairness and the fight against poverty and inequality in Redbridge. I’ll be working hard with my Cabinet to make sure that these values underpin the work that the Council does over the course of the next four years.