The Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, has issued a Christmas and New Year message to residents.
This year has been incredibly different from previous years in many ways, but one thing has remained constant – Medway’s phenomenal community spirit.
We understand that many of you were incredibly disappointed that following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday, 19 December Medway moved into the Tier 4: Stay at Home alert level. It’s a difficult pill to swallow after all we’ve been through this year but given the still high rates of transmission in Medway and the new highly transmissible strain of the virus, it is critical that we make sacrifices this year to protect our loved ones and our community if we are to enjoy a better 2021.
We will continue to provide support to Medway’s businesses which have been affected by the new Tier 4 restrictions through the Local Restrictions Grant and the Additional Restrictions Grant. We are committed to supporting our local businesses and I would encourage business owners to visit our website for more information on the support available.
Please also remember that support is also available for residents who are told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace service and we’re using the Winter Support Grant to help families across Medway who have been the most financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic. We will be using the funding to give our vulnerable residents peace of mind over the winter months, by helping those who need it to have food on the table and other essentials, so every child will be warm and well-fed this winter.
We were pleased, using part of our winter support grant funding from the government, to be able to work with Citizens Advice Medway and all our schools in Medway to deliver food hampers to 9,000 Medway children eligible for free school meals to help over the Christmas break. We’d like to say a special thank you to those Licensed Taxi drivers who helped will all the deliveries across Medway last week.
Despite the many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Medway has responded heroically. Thank you to all our key workers including our health care colleagues in the NHS, particularly those at Medway Maritime Hospital and paramedics who are on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus. Many other organisations have been at the forefront of Medway’s coronavirus support efforts, including the voluntary sector and school staff, as well as our own council officers who continue to ensure our most vulnerable residents receive the help they need and deserve and our critical services keep on running.
Earlier this month, Medway became the first area in the south-east to offer targeted community testing for those without symptoms. The new type of testing has helped identify those who unknowingly have the virus. The symptom-free tests will help provide a more accurate picture of cases in Medway and will help prevent people from spreading it to their loved ones and people they work with. I am pleased to let you know that more than 26,000 residents have now taken a test.
There are brighter times ahead. It’s encouraging that the vaccine has started to be rolled out and we will continue to offer our support to our NHS colleagues. However, cases are still rising and it is vital that we all continue to follow the latest government guidance. The restrictions are in place to slow the spread of coronavirus and everyone has a responsibility to act now to help get us back to the things we love sooner.
We all hope that you will be able to spend more time with our family and friends next year, and there is much to look forward to including Medway’s UK City of Culture 2025 bid.
I would like to thank everyone who will be working over the Christmas and New Year period to provide support to our most vulnerable residents.
Although we may all be celebrating the festive period differently this year, I wish you all an enjoyable Christmas and a healthy New Year.
Cllr Alan Jarrett
Leader of Medway Council