Act now to avoid new restrictions - stay safe this Christmas - school expansion - and more

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Message from the Mayor

It’s been just over a week since national restrictions were lifted, and London was placed in tier 2 high alert level 

Since then, worryingly – cases of Covid-19 are risingIn Tower Hamlets, and our neighbouring east London boroughs, the rate of infection is increasing significantly, and it is vital we all act now to stop the spread. 

Following the tier 2 rules is the best way to keep your loved ones safe, protect your ability to form a Christmas Bubble (more on this in this newsletter), and avoid further restrictions.  

Remember that the alert levels are being reviewed by the government next Wednesday and then could come into effect on Friday 18 DecemberIf levels of infection continue to increase in the same way, there is a real risk that London will be moved into tier 3 very high alert level, which means even more restrictions. While, as a country we are celebrating the first people to get the vaccine this week - rolling this out to everyone will take time - until then, we must all play our part to turn this around urgently.  

It remains critically important to avoid mixing with other households inside - as this is one of the main ways that infection is rising again in our borough. Right now, you must only meet indoors with members of your own household or support bubble. Make sure you continue to follow the rule of six when meeting others outdoors and remember the basics – wash hands, cover your face and make spaceRead the full list of rules to ensure you’re up to date.  

It’s important to keep in mind that you’re potentially infectious for 14 days after getting Covid-19, even if you do not have any symptoms. Think about who you might be putting at risk over the festive season. I know we’re all fed up but remember the rules are in place for a reason – they save lives. 

Finally, and on a brighter note – I’d like to wish those in our Jewish community a Happy Hanukkah. It has been a challenging period and while celebrations will be different, I hope those celebrating are able mark this festival in their own way.  

Stay safe,  

Mayor Biggs 

Covid-19 cases are rising

Act now to avoid further Covid-19 restrictions

Covid-19 cases are rising in east London. Follow the tier 2 high alert rules to protect each other and avoid further restrictions when the government reviews the London alert level next week.

Sticking to the rules is vital in the fight against Covid-19. In particular, avoiding mixing with people you don’t live with, in an indoor setting, is a very powerful way to keep each other safe and protect your Christmas Bubble.

Check tier 2 rules >

Stay safe during the festive season - Between 23 and 27 December up to three households can form a festive bubble.

Covid-19 and the festive period

The lights are on, the trees are up – but this Christmas isn’t going to be normal. Covid-19 is still a very real risk and cases are rising in east London, including Tower Hamlets.

The government is lifting restrictions on social mixing for five days, between 23 – 27 December. During this time, up to three households can form a ‘Christmas Bubble’, allowing each household to spend time together in one home (if you choose to).

Please make sure you follow the rules so we can continue keeping our borough safe beyond Christmas and into 2021. It’s vital we remain vigilant and play our part in limiting any further spread of Covid-19.

Christmas Bubbles >

Dinner lady and children

Meals for children in need during Christmas and February school holidays

We will be providing meals for children in need across the borough over the Christmas break and February half-term. 

Our Tackling Poverty team are working with Tesco and Asda to provide vouchers worth £25 to spend on food over the Christmas period. 

Any child who is eligible for statutory free school meals during term time will receive support. 

Read more >

Candles and vases

Festive markets, lights and trees this Christmas

The borough’s street markets are an ideal place to pick up some seasonal treats this Christmas.

Lady Lane Market takes place at Whitworth Street in Whitechapel this Friday (11 December) and White Post Lane Makers Market next Friday (18 December) - showcasing unique gifts from some of the East End’s best independent artisans.

Finally, a  big thanks to our highways team, who have worked hard to install lights and trees around our borough - bringing some festive cheer.

Christmas markets and lights >

Selective licensing consultation

Last chance to take part in selective licensing consultation

Selective licensing applies to all rented properties in Whitechapel, Weavers and Spitalfields and Banglatown wards, excluding those needing a license under the mandatory licensing scheme.

This scheme, which has been in force since 2016, covers all privately rented properties including smaller houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) that are occupied by three or four people living as two or more separate households who share facilities.

Consultation closes on Sunday 13 December. We will use the views provided to shape our decision on whether to extend the existing blueprint for a further five years from 30 September 2021.

Have your say >

Toynbee Hall

Housing developments win awards

Two innovative projects providing new homes in the borough were among the big winners at this year’s New London Awards (NLA).

Each year the hotly-contested prizes celebrate the most innovative architectural improvement projects across the capital.

Toynbee Hall in Spitalfields and Queen’s Yard in Hackney Wick were recognised for innovative mixed use developments.

Read more >

Animation of money being given to another hand.

Self-isolation support payments help hundreds of residents

So far, we have paid £237,500 to vulnerable residents who have had to self-isolate due to Covid-19. This means that 475 residents on low incomes have successfully applied for the £500 payment.

Payments were introduced by the government in September to support people on low incomes in high risk areas. Self-isolation, when identified as a positive Covid-19 case or having been in contact with a positive Covid-19 case, became a legal requirement from the end of September, so this fund aims to help those who are unable to work from home and would lose money by self-isolating.

We have also provided additional crisis and hardship grants for food and fuel through the resident support scheme, and relaxed the criteria, allowing people to apply multiple times.

Apply for support >

Animated high school building

New funding boost for secondary school expansion and improvements

We have secured funding worth £47 million from the Department for Education (DfE) towards the cost of building a new secondary school on the site of London Dock in Wapping. The DfE will also develop a new permanent home for a secondary free school, Canary Wharf College, on the Westferry Printworks site on the Isle of Dogs.

And, as a third part of this new investment, these agreements will allow us to release funds to rebuild George Green’s School on the Isle of Dogs, subject to a feasibility study.

Read more >

Couple dancing

Celebrate Christmas at home with our online tea dance

Mid-December usually means it’s time for our annual festive tea dance when older residents come together for an afternoon of entertainment, and a mince pie or two!

This year, we’ve created an online tea dance for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy from home. The Sunshine Kings, our much-loved jazz and swing band, will play a selection of old favourites. And popular dance leader Tony Lane will demonstrate some great dance steps for a range of dancing styles. 

It’s a wonderful opportunity to dress up for the occasion and quick step into the spirit of the season. 

Tune in on Thursday 17 December from 3pm or catch it any time over the festive period.

Step into Christmas >

shot of two houses

Nominate your local hero

From a teacher who has transformed your life, to a health worker who may have saved it, our communities are full of local heroes.

To mark Census Day on 21 March 2021, the team are awarding 22 local heroes bespoke purple plaques to honour and celebrate their achievements.

Get your application in by Thursday 31 December 2020.

Census Day is the nationwide survey that has been carried out every decade since 1801, with the exception of 1941, during the second world war.

Information helps decide how local services in the borough are planned and funded in the future, and this could mean everything from doctors’ surgeries, new developments or transport links – so it’s important that we have an accurate picture of the pressures we face, to help meet our future needs.

Find out more on the census website, including details on job opportunities.

Census info >

An animated family (Mother, Father, daughter) holding a bag of groceries and a bottle of vitamins.

Free Healthy Start vouchers for families

Did you know you can receive vouchers up to £12.40 per week that can be used on food and milk? Depending on the age of your child or children, you can access:

  • £6.20 per week for each baby under the age of one
  • £3.10 per week for each child aged between two to four-years-old
  • Plus £3.10 per week if you are pregnant (from week 10)

Each voucher is worth £3.10, and you are entitled to several vouchers, depending on your family size. The vouchers can be spent on a range of food and milk items including fruit and vegetables, pulses and milk and can be used in major supermarket chains, local shops and market stalls within Tower Hamlets.

The payments will rise from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from April 2021 meaning you could take home up to £17 per week. 

Find out more >

Young child holding a book

Virtual Idea Store and library focus group

As part of the consultation on the future of the borough’s library service residents have the chance to take part in two online focus groups.

Both focus groups will be hosted by Cllr Sabina Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Culture, Arts and Brexit.

Focus groups will take place on:

  • Thursday 17 December 2020, 2pm
  • Wednesday 13 January 2021, 7pm

You can join the event through a link which you will receive automatically once you register.

Registration is open now for the first focus group on 17 December.

More info and register >

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