Redbridge leader pledges to put families first, despite low government funding


The Redbridge Council Leader outlined his plans to make Redbridge “the best place to live, work and raise a family” over the next four years.

Jas Athwal, who was officially re-elected as leader on May 30, pledged to build a “safer, healthier, cleaner, greener and fairer” borough for residents.

Wide-ranging plans include measures to continue to fight crime and anti-social behavior, tackle child poverty, improve air quality and open the first university campus.

Read more: Labor tightens its grip on Redbridge in 2022 local elections

Speaking to the council chamber, Cllr Athwal said: “Over the next four years we will work with local residents, businesses and partners to continue to transform the borough, to ensure a bright future for all. those who live in Redbridge.

“Together we can make a difference, this labor administration has a clear vision, and we have a plan to deliver on that vision and now we have a mandate: to make Redbridge the best place to live, work, raise a family. and call a home.”

However, the Labor leader warned of a ‘gloomy’ national image which ‘will hit the poorest hardest’.

He added: “I can’t talk about what we’re going to achieve and plan without talking about the national picture, it’s bleak.

“Earlier this month, inflation was 9%, that’s a fact. The highest rate since 1982, that’s a fact.

“Instead of throwing parties and covering up corruption, as the government has done, we will work together.

“The Conservatives on the other side of the House have more in common with us, because we are united.

“That’s why we’re mobilizing to become counsellors, because we’ll work together, we’ll put local families first, we’ll do everything we can to support people who need help.”

Cllr Athwal has criticized the low funding Redbridge receives compared to other London boroughs and the loss of 60% of government grants under austerity.

In response, Tory leader Cllr Paul Canal acknowledged it was unfair that Redbridge was receiving low funding and pledged to work with Labor to secure better resources.

However, he added: “It has been the case through successive governments, it is not a Labor thing, it is very much a civil service thing, we need fundamental reform of the how councils are funded.”

Cllr Athwal has defended investments made with council funds under his leadership, saying he avoids cutting services by using ‘capital gains’.

Redbridge Council’s property investments include £62million in commercial properties, including the Deco Building and Iceland in Ilford town centre, as well as a retail park in Beckton and an office block in Romford .

He asked, “Which service would you like me to cut, the left arm or the right arm?”

Cllr Athwal also argued that the council had ‘replenished’ the borough’s financial reserves and ‘handed over the money’.

When approached for further details by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) after the meeting, Cllr Athwal declined to explain how much the council had in store, until the first cabinet meeting on June 21.

To tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, the Labor leader has promised to set up “dedicated night police teams”, park patrol teams and more control centres.

The council will also “continue to implement” the findings of the Redbridge Community Crime Commission, which has identified areas such as women’s safety, domestic violence and drug-related crime as high priorities.

The first of five new community hubs in the borough, originally announced in 2018, which “will be completed”, said Cllr Athwal.

The leader has also pledged to create a child poverty strategy to create clean air zones with air quality monitors around schools and deliver the Wanstead swimming pool.

Regarding transport, he pledged to install 1,000 charging stations for electric vehicles and to “continue to invest” in cycling infrastructure.

Further details of the borough’s first university campus will not be made public until a deal is finalized, Cllr Athwal told LDRS.


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