‘Last year families were kept apart, many forced to spend Christmas on their own- all while the government held parties.’

Today Councillor Jas Athwal Leader of Redbridge Council writes in the Havering Daily.

In December 2020 there were 10,699 positive cases of Covid-19 in Redbridge, hundreds of our neighbours died because of the virus, and Number 10 Downing Street flouted Covid-19 rules to host Christmas parties.

On the 18th December 2020 Redbridge had the 16th highest rate of Covid-19 in the country, every single day between 2 and 3 of our neighbours were losing their lives to the virus. Families across our borough were losing their loved ones. On the same day Number 10 held a Christmas party with Secret Santa and party games.  

In December Redbridge Council Covid-19 Marshalls were going door to door giving out advice and tests, the Met Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick, joined me in Ilford Lane to help hand out masks and the council was engaged in a battle with the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, to allow our schools to close early for Christmas after 7000 local children were forced to isolate after being exposed to Covid. In the same week Gavin Williamson broke Covid-19 rules by throwing a Christmas Party for Department forEducation staff. 

Last year in Redbridge families were kept apart, many of our neighbours were forced to spend Christmas on their own, and local people died alone in hospital rooms without their loved ones, in line with government rules. All while the government held parties. 

This government’s repeated failure to lead by example is hugely damaging and puts all of us at risk. First Dominic Cummings, then Matt Hancock, and now apparently all of Number 10. The open disregard for essential measures that were put in place to save lives – which meant huge personal sacrifices for many – not only threatens the likelihood of people adhering to any future critical measures as we enter our next Covid winter, but it undermines messaging about vaccinations. For those sceptical about the existence or scale of Covid, Boris Johnson’s flouting of his own rules has just added fuel to the fire.

Let’s be in no doubt – at the time of writing more than 145,000 people have died of Covid in the UK since the start of the pandemic, and this week’s figures aren’t yet available. 

There must be a full investigation into the government breaking Covid-19 rules and there must be a reckoning. The people of Redbridge will not stand by while the Government lies to us and laughs at us. 

Cllr Jas Athwal

Leader, Redbridge Council

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