Prepare for school next week, setting Council Tax, and picking up on waste in Romford.

Living masthead DMB hand sanitiser version

Monday 1 March 2021  (Update #187)

Cllr White blog masthead Doing my bit left hand image

This financial year has been a year none of us could have predicted. 2020 brought COVID-19 and with it changes and challenges on a scale most of us have never seen in our lifetimes.

As we do every year, we set our budget with a clear plan for the year. However, the pandemic changed all our lives and re-wrote those plans.

When we first became aware of the awful coronavirus  pandemic, we quickly responded to the needs of our residents. This included supporting the shielded scheme – delivering food to those who needed it most.

I asked for £1.5m of funding to be put aside for our Havering Helps scheme to help those residents most in need. Following this, in November, I was pleased that we could go even further with the COVID-19 Winter Support Grant. This funding has enabled us to help those of our residents who have been so badly affected by the impact of the pandemic.

The Havering Helps scheme has now helped over 4,000 residents with more than half a million pounds in cash grants and payments to replace and repair white goods, help with utility bills, assist with isolation and put food on the table.

You can read more on our plans for the next financial year in the article below about Wednesday's night's Council Tax setting meeting.

Today I want to reassure parents and pupils that schools have been working hard to prepare for the safe return to school or college from next Monday (8 March).

When they open fully for all pupils we will need everyone - teachers, pupils and parents or carers - to continue following the Government guidance in order to keep everyone safe. The hands, face and space message remains crucial and all adults and secondary school or college students must wear a face covering while on school or college premises where they can’t social distance. Also, please don’t hang about near school gates when dropping off or collecting children. Go straight home to help keep COVID-19 infection rates in Havering down. Read more on this later in this bulletin.

If you want to contact me directly, you can email me. However, please be patient as there may be a delay of a day or two in getting back to you due to the volume of messages I am receiving.

Cllr Damian White

Leader, Havering Council

Stay home after vaccine cartoon graphic

Council Tax setting

Town Hall March 2019

This Wednesday night (3 March) at 7.30pm Havering Council holds its annual Council Tax setting meeting. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this will be a virtual meeting with Councillors joining the meeting from home via Zoom.

The meeting will approve the Council's budget for 2021/22 and set the Council Tax applicable from April.

You can read the documents the councillors will be discussing and, if you wish, watch the meeting via a webcast.

Watch webcast

Positive Possibilities

Positivity event March 2021 495px

Our mental health awareness campaign, BeNiceToYourNoggin, and local youth charity Lifeline Projects are putting on a free online concert this Friday (5 March) to help raise awareness of mental health support.  

The event – headlined by MOBO winner Guvna B - will be exclusively for young people in Havering and hopes to provide a place for them to discuss mental health issues and learn more about the local help available.  

If you are aged 11 - 25, or know someone who is, click on the button below to join the event.


Next steps

Here's a summary of the first two steps the Government has outlined as it begins to relax COVID-19 restrictions:

Steps 1 and 2 revised


Cast your vote

Polling station sign

The Government has announced that door-to-door campaigning for England's local elections will be allowed from 8 March.

Activists will be permitted to canvas and leaflet as long as they work alone, with groups of six allowed from 29 March. But guidance says hustings and public meetings over this limit will still have to take place online.

Elections for the Mayor of London and London Assembly will be held across London on Thursday 6 May.

You must be on the electoral register to vote in Mayor of London and London Assembly elections - and indeed any UK elections and referenda. You can register to vote online in just a few minutes using a simple form. You'll need to provide your National Insurance number, your date of birth and your address.


Testing, vaccines and help

Stay at home after vaccine couple image 495px

If you have any doubts about taking a COVID-19 vaccine when it is offered to you, or you know that a friend or relative has concerns, see this video.

If you are 64 or over, an eligible frontline health or care worker, or eligible for carer’s allowance, and have not yet had, or been booked, for your first COVID-19 vaccination you can book online or call 119.

From today (1 March) a new COVID-19 vaccination centre will be open in the Liberty Shopping Centre in Romford. It has been set up by North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT). Attendance will be by appointment only and the centre will be open from 8am - 8pm, seven days a week. 


One in three people with COVID-19 have no symptoms, and can pass it on to others without realising. If you cannot work from home please test twice weekly at one of Havering's five lateral flow testing centres.

These centres are open from 7am to 7pm on weekdays and 10am to 7pm on weekends. Find your nearest rapid testing site.

See our short video that explains the simple process.

From today (1 March), you can also book tests or place an order online for home test kits if you are in a household where children will be attending primary or secondary school from next week.

Of course, it also remains vitally important to book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms. There is information on booking procedures, and opening hours for all our local testing locations on our website.


If you, or someone you know, has concerns around care, urgent issues with their health and wellbeing or lack of access to supplies, including food, please call our free to use helpline: 0800 368 5201.

It is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, and between 11am and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays for emergencies only.

You can also email us if you, or someone you know, needs help.

Picking up on waste

Brooklands waste poster March 2021

Havering Council in partnership with Keep Britain Tidy, is launching a campaign to help our borough get rid of its waste responsibly.

It will begin in Brooklands ward, Romford, where last year, £35,933 was spent by the Council clearing up fly-tipping.

For the next four weeks in the ward, the campaign will look at where fly-tipping takes place in the area, with Keep Britain Tidy monitoring the number of fly-tipping incidents and reports.

The campaign will also look into residents’ awareness, attitudes and perceptions of fly-tipping and see what can be done to help people who do fly-tip understand the impact it has on their communities.

Report a fly-tip

Fostering for loving parents

Fostering heart image Feb 2021

Havering Council believes that any loving person or couple can make wonderful foster parents.

Today (Monday 1 March) is the start of LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week. 

We consider applications from anyone over 25 years, with a spare bedroom and also applications from people who are working, but you’ll need to have some flexibility to meet all the needs of any child in your care.

To find out more about fostering, join the Havering Council team this Wednesday, 3 March, at 11 am for a special information session.


Safe return to school

Back to school graphic March 2021

The Government announced last month that all schools would fully open next Monday, 8 March.

Returning to school is compulsory, unless there are specific medical reasons for a child not being able to attend. Non-attendance could result in a penalty notice being issued.

Havering Council wants to reassure parents and pupils that everything that can be done is being done to ensure their safe return to school and why it is important for pupils to return – for their own wellbeing and their long-term learning and future.

If you or your child feels unwell, please don’t come to school, but isolate and get tested. If your child tests positive, arrangements will be made so they can study at home. From today (1 March) parents or carers can book tests or place an order online for home test kits if you are in a household where children will be attending primary or secondary school from next week.

Walk to school where possible. If you’re travelling by bus, please remember to wear a face covering.

COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. Please head home straight after school to help stop the spread of the virus.

Quit moaning

Diary of a brilliant teenager book cover image

This Thursday (4 March) is World Book Day.

Havering Libraries is holding a number of special online events to celebrate the day, including author Andy Cope doing a live Zoom between 7 and 8pm aimed at anyone aged 11 or over.

Amongst other things, he will be discussing his book ‘The Art of Being a Brilliant Teenager’ and encouraging teens to quit the moaning and start loving life, to become their very best self, with tips on how to stay cool under pressure and be determined and most importantly ‘happy’.

Register in advance by sending an email


Once every 10 years

Census pack photo

Very soon you will receive a letter that will tell you everything you need to know about how to complete Census 2021 online.

Paper copies of the census will be available if required.

Census 2021 takes place on Sunday 21 March.

By filling in your census, you will help shape Havering for the next 10 years.


Deadline day in June

EUSS Polish version Feb 2021

Up until the end of January more than five million people have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme.

So far there have been 22,850 applications to the scheme from Havering residents.

The largest number of applications were from Romanian citizens, followed by Lithuanians, Poles, Bulgarians, Italians and Portuguese. 

If you are a European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen, or a family member, you should apply now to secure your rights in UK law.

The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021.  


Time to give up

Stop smoking campaign image 1 March 2021 495px

This year No Smoking Day is on Wednesday 10 March. Make this day your time to quit for good.

The pandemic may have you thinking more about smoking and your health.

Click below to to keep motivated to quit for better health, as well as the other top reasons Londoners have for kicking the habit.

Help to kick the habit

Step up

Step up to social work graphic

Step Up to Social Work is a Department for Education initiative which aims to increase the number of social workers by supporting graduates and career changers to start a new career in social work, working with vulnerable children, young people and families.

Step Up to Social Work is a 14 month full-time, fully funded programme, starting in January 2022 that leads to a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work.

The programme is delivered locally by the University of East London in partnership with local authorities including Havering Council.

Applications for places close on 7 April 2021.

A series of online information sessions are being held, starting tomorrow (Tuesday 2 March). Book your place at one of these sessions.


Films from the Fanns

Harold Wood running club

The Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme has worked with local people to create ten short films that reveal some of the wonderful places and characters in the Land of the Fanns - an area that includes Havering.

The ten films evoke memories, record developments and showcase some of the interesting and beautiful places to be found in the Fanns area that runs from east London to Basildon.

Locations in Havering featured in these films include Bedfords Park Walled Garden in Havering-atte-Bower, the Rainham Hall Community Garden, and the Harold Wood Running Club training in Pages Wood (pictured).

Each film is available to watch on the Land of the Fanns websiteYouTube channel and on its Facebook page.


Better days graphic Jan 2021