A message for the new year from Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Epping Forest District Council.
Dear fellow residents and business owners
I’m sure there’s not one of us that won’t be glad to see the back of 2020 and look forward with hope to 2021.
Like you, I started 2020 looking forward to the promise of a new year and a new decade. Unfortunately, as 2020 comes to a close, like many people I look back on the last year very differently.
There is sadness, both for those who have suffered and those we have lost, but also pride and thanks for our community that has risen to new heights of care and compassion during the pandemic.
The people of Epping Forest have endured some of the worst of the pandemic.
As the year closes, we have almost the highest infection rates in England. So many people have pulled together in the face of this adversity. I want to thank some of you.
The NHS and carers
Thank you, for the carers that continued to care for us – our NHS, adult social care, healthcare and social care professionals – for all you have done to care for us. You have lived under great pressure, not even taking a break at Christmas as you continue fighting to keep us safe and well.
Thank you, to the volunteers – you have come forward to support our communities in your hundreds and thousands across Epping Forest and Essex. From neighbourly good deeds to community projects. You have played a vital role supporting the vulnerable across our district.
Thank you, to our teachers – under the most difficult circumstances you have continued to teach our children, keeping schools open in recent months, supporting the children of key workers during the first phase of the pandemic and adapting to online learning and COVID secure practices.
Public services and partners
Thank you, to all those in the public services – you are the unsung council staff who have worked hard behind the scenes throughout the year to deliver the frontline services which we all rely upon … from collecting our rubbish to supporting businesses and the most vulnerable.
Thank you to our partners – from the Police, to Essex County Council, Towns and Parishes, local charities and organisations, thank you for all you have done to support our community.
And to you
In this last letter of this dreadful year, I want to thank you all for your resilience and perseverance.
You have kept going through both lockdowns and COVID restrictions. It has been tough but there is now hope and light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of a vaccine. The best scientific minds have come to our aid and the vaccination programme has started. Hopefully sooner, rather than later, the burden will be lifted, and we will be able to celebrate everything our community has achieved together.
However, first we have another battle to win. We have lost too many people and freedoms to let COVID win now. We want to all be together to celebrate next Christmas, and the one after, and for years to come.
We still have one of the worst COVID infection rates in the whole country. I know how hard everyone is finding the restrictions. Like you I would have loved to celebrate Christmas and New Year with my family. I wanted to see our local high streets buzzing with festive shoppers, held a party for my staff, celebrated in my local pub and eaten out with friends in my favourite restaurants … but there will be Christmases to come.
The next couple of months will be tough, but if we follow the restrictions just a little longer, stay and work from home if possible, follow the rules ‘Hands, Face, Space’, we can make the difference and beat the virus.
Wishing you all the very best for 2021
So, here’s to you, your family and your friends – wishing you all the very best for 2021, a new year that really does promise to be better for all.
Councillor Chris Whitbread
Leader of Epping Forest District Council
Keep up to date
Keep in touch with our latest news, service updates and reports.