I am pleased to share brilliant news this week about our collective efforts to bring down covid-19 in our city.
At the time of writing, data tells us there are currently zero reported cases of covid-19 among the over 60s in Brighton and Hove.
There are still cases in other age groups and I am acutely aware that the figures can change in as little as a day.
However, after a year of incredible hardship and tragedy, reports of zero cases in such a vulnerable age group is truly significant and something that seemed almost unthinkable a year ago.
I have said before that we cannot be complacent. At the same time, low figures can remind us all that our actions can make a difference.
And I am hopeful that reduced rates of covid can strengthen our resolve to keep following the “hands, face, space” guidance.
This is particularly important as many more await vaccination and restrictions continue to ease, allowing us to mix with more people.
So I’m glad that more and more people in the city are going to places like the Jubilee library and local pharmacies to pick up their own free asymptomatic testing kits.
Alongside other measures like self-isolation, hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing, regular testing is another tool we can use to identify cases and prevent transmission.
Sadly, we still don’t know when we will fully supress the pandemic – so it’s critical that we continue to support each other through the pandemic.
I was reminded of just how Brighton and Hove continues to rise to the challenge at an event to mark Ramadan this week.
People from across the city asserted the community spirit that flows through Brighton and Hove and that has been essential to helping keep people safe and well.
It’s more important than ever that we sustain these connections to see us through the coming period.
Time will tell how successful the continued easing of lockdown and the government’s planned “roadmap” will be.
Plans are in place to help our city to thrive and recovery is also an opportunity to strengthen everything that makes our city a wonderful place to live. We continue to help the city to reopen, create jobs and support our economy.
With 17.5 per cent of all jobs in our city related to the tourism sector, the economic value of retail to the city is in the region of £1 billion and with many still facing unemployment this work is vital.
In the last week I’ve met with leaders in the tourism trade. A two-year recovery plan will include representing our city on a national stage, building back confidence, enhancing the look and feel of our city and extending our usual tourism season to ensure we are valued as a “must visit” destination at other times of year.
I am clear we need to take opportunities to revitalise our high streets, continuing our collaboration on short-term “pop ups” to take over empty shops and create space for young creatives, artists and crafters.
I also know residents want to see the city look and feel at its best. So we are fast tracking the response to remove graffiti with an increased budget and have allocated extra funding to tackle the problem of litter on the A27 and A23.
We want to upgrade opportunities to increase recycling, plant more trees and wildflowers and enhance green space, so our city is known for its access to nature.
Looking ahead, we also have events coming to the city to be proud of and celebrate – things like the Women’s Euro 2022 football tournament and the upcoming Brighton festival – and I am also clear about the opportunity to promote the vibrancy of our city over the Christmas break.
As we focus on supporting our economy and tackling unemployment, we know too that the pandemic is still with us and has not affected everyone equally.
In the weeks and months to come, we will ensure those hardest hit continue to receive support. This week money will also be put into supporting our families and schools, early years providers, housing support and other groups that are still in serious hardship.
Our focus is on building back better – rejuvenating city and environment and supporting those who are hardest hit by the pandemic.
Whatever the roadmap may hold, Greens stand with our city and will always be led by protecting communities. More Green voices on the council will help to make these plans a reality.
Next Thursday, residents have the opportunity to vote for a green recovery. Voting Eliza Wyatt in Patcham and Hollingbury, Zoë John in Hollingdean and Stanmer and Kahina Bouhassane for police and crime commissioner will help put these plans into practice.
Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty is the Green leader of Brighton and Hove City Council
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