A message from the Leader of the Council
Published Thursday, 23 December 2021
The following open letter is the lead article in Bromley Council’s Update e-newsletter.
I very much hope that this newsletter reaches you, your friends and loved ones in good health and fine spirit at this special time of year.
To those of you who have suffered loss or illness in recent times, I obviously extend my kindest thoughts and sympathy as well.
This morning’s excellent breaking news that early research strongly points to ‘Omicron’ being less damaging than ‘Delta’, for those who have been vaccinated in particular, is truly something to celebrate and the best early Christmas present that any of us could possibly have wished for.
However, today’s news doesn’t in any way negate the need to step forward to accept your vaccination as soon as you possibly can. Nothing has changed in that regard.
We are all safer, not safe, and it is never too late to join the programme, so I absolutely implore the dwindling minority of Bromley residents who haven’t yet done so, to do it now.
Your decision could quite literally still save lives and prevent extremely serious illness, so please, just do the right thing.
More widely, and despite the seriousness of the pandemic and the extent of the council’s response to it, we have continued to keep our eye very firmly on the ‘business as usual’ ball throughout 2021. I am very pleased to report there are an increasing number of ways this hard work and disciplined approach are now manifesting themselves in tangible results for residents to see.
Our initiative to plant some 5,000 new street trees to improve our local environment and air quality as part of our commitment to reach carbon neutral status by 2029 is now well underway.
We have been nationally recognised in the Public Finance Awards as the winner of the ‘Excellence in Asset Management' award which acknowledges our robust treasury management and the strong performance of the council’s pension fund. This is important as it offers us the prospect of lower council contributions to the pension fund in future and lower council tax as a result.
In housing, we are taking significant steps forward towards our target of providing 1,000 new ‘Bromley homes for Bromley people’ as we progress development opportunities on a number of sites across the borough. Good quality houses too, best demonstrated by the innovative project in Burnt Ash Lane which was singled out for national recognition recently at the Inside Housing Development Awards.
We are also very proud to have been honoured in recent MJ Achievement Awards where Bromley was named as the winner of the ‘Care and Health Integration’ category. We were selected for two initiatives: our care team’s remarkable work to improve the way residents leave hospital and the wide-ranging support we provided to care homes during the pandemic.
Our partnership work with NHS and CCG colleagues in particular, will remain critical over coming years as budgets tighten when the debts incurred nationally over the course of the pandemic have to be accounted for. It is extremely heartening to see us already so well placed to rise to that challenge.
And finally, ever mindful that Christmas can be a very difficult and lonely time for some, I am extremely pleased to see and report the progress being made in the council's 'Tackling Loneliness' agenda, the strategy to which was launched last week. I very much look forward to updating you with further news on this key strand of policy over coming months.
So, all things considered, a generally good and optimistic note to end another very difficult year on, but there can be no room or any time for complacency.
As 2021 slips away, largely unlamented by most of us, a new year awaits, no doubt bearing fresh challenges of its own for us to navigate and that is where our focus must now turn.
In closing, I would like to extend my personal thanks to every single one of you who has contributed to the stunning team effort we have seen across the borough these past two years, from professionals to volunteers far too numerous to even start naming individually.
You know who you are, and Bromley is extremely proud and grateful to have you as our own.
Whatever your plans and whoever you choose to spend your time with over the festive season, I wish you all the very best of Christmas cheer and a healthy, happy and successful 2022.
Councillor Colin Smith,
Leader of the Council
London Borough of Bromley
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