Broken promises: 'Tory government does not stand with communities'

Food bank use has tripled in Brent over the summer. Picture: Andy Buchanan/PA

The Bridge Park facility has been delivering up to 800 food parcels a week - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Nearly a year since the first lockdown, it's our communities that have kept this country running, not this crony Conservative government.

In March last year, Brent Council, along with local authorities across the country, were told to do "whatever it takes" to save lives. This government gave the assurance that they would fully reimburse councils for their expenditure on combatting this virus.

They lied! They have reneged on that promise. They now expect councils, after having been gutted for the past 10 years, to take an unacceptable share in that burden.

After 10 years of austerity pushed by the Tories, along with the Lib Dems in that wretched and ill-fated coalition; they lied to the people of this country. They have lied, during a global pandemic, which has seen more than 120,000 people in the UK die, of which we have lost more than 760 of our loved ones in our borough.

That is who they are. Incompetence and indifference all rolled into one.

Cllr Ihtesham Malik Afzal, Preston ward

Cllr Ihtesham Malik Afzal says it is communities who have kept the country running, not government - Credit: Archant

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But in the face of grief and despair, whilst mourning our loved ones, our community and this council - along with local authorities across this country - have stepped up where this government has been found missing in action.

From purchasing and delivering millions of pieces of PPE to frontline staff, through to providing free school meal vouchers to vulnerable children, we, as a council, are doing whatever it takes.

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In accommodating nearly 350 people homeless or at risk of sleeping rough, through to delivering 800 food parcels weekly from the Bridge Park facility, we are doing whatever it takes.

With the fantastic work of mutual aid groups, our care staff, our teachers, our nurses, our doctors, all those on the frontline - our community have done and are continually doing whatever it takes to preserve and save lives.

And during that time, whilst we have been doing whatever it takes, this government has been taking whatever it can in doling out contracts to its chums. Crony capitalism at its finest. They have shown us their cards and we see where they stand. It is not with us.

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