London Mayor, Mr. Sadiq Khan met London BME leaders, groups and media owners in first of its type, Zoom meeting in order to share and exchange ideas on the prevailing issues within the BAME on the impacts of coronavirus and what London government may do to help. The zoom meeting was led by BEN Television, UK’s first ethnic satellite 🛰 channel.
Highlights of the conversation with London Mayor – Sadiq Khan and BAME Community Leaders on Friday 22 May 2020.
The representatives from Health, Businesses, NGOs, Small and Medium companies and Media interest attended the meeting, with the Mayor saying “there is definitely an opportunity to engage BME by his office and look forward to making London a safer and economically viable city”.
The Mayor expressed concern about Londoners “in the low income group” in response to Dr. Tony, a leading medical doctor in London on what the Mayor can do to alleviate their travelling into London.
He went further on the following:
– Revenue of Transport for London (TfL) has dropped during the lockdown as a result of lower passenger numbers and social distancing measures like the suspension of tap-in-to-pay on bus rides and the suspension of Congestion Charges.
– Over the last eight weeks, TfL has been using its reserves which is now depleted.
– Last week, TfL agreed a bailout with Central government, and the new measures announced increasing the Congestion Charge rate and scope were part of the bailout conditions imposed by the central government. Without the Central government bailout, TfL would have had to cut services.
– If Central government removes these conditions and strings on the Mayor, he will be happy to reverse the new measures.
– We managed to get exemptions for NHS and Care workers, and are lobbying the government for more exemptions.
– Londoners should let us know their concerns so that we can raise this with government.
– It is a matter of fact that people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.
– “There is the need for urgent action to reveal the true extent of this inequality, and the Mayor has joined in calling on the Prime Minister to set up an independent public enquiry into the COVID-19 BAME disproportionality.
– Reasons for this disproportionality are complex and include the fact that many in our communities do jobs in which there is a higher risk of exposure (Health and Care Workers, Bus Drivers, etc); live in overcrowded accommodation which may include many generations living in the household; and some have underlying health issues – respiratory and other high risk illnesses.
– The Mayor is concerned that there is the need to make emergency plans now to ensure that lessons learnt are implemented effectively in the event of a possible second or third wave of the virus”.
– Too many young people are involved in crime and too many are dying from crime. This is as a result of deprivation, poverty, inequalities and lack of opportunities.
– Post COVID-19 could see increased deprivation, poverty, inequalities and lack of opportunities, and so at City Hall, we are working to keep our Youths busy and ensure Police have the trust of our communities and work effectively within them to reduce crime.
– Feedback from BAME communities reveals that there are difficulties accessing some of the intervention schemes announced by the Chancellor to cushion the effects of the Pandemic.
– “If you are having any issues, complain to your Bank and the Banking Ombudsman, and to your Member of Parliament (MP).
– You can get information about help available in London by searching for ‘My Growth Hub’ on our website” .
– The Mayor is also lobbying government to extend the Furlough scheme based on a sector by sector response.
– “In light of reduced fundraising opportunities during the Pandemic, there are funds available for community and voluntary groups to help their communities – please visit our website” .
– We noticed earlier on that government’s messages on COVID-19 was one-dimensional – in one language. “We have been working with Translators to translate some of the messages into some of the languages spoken by our diverse communities.”
– The Mayor thanked attendees and welcomes ideas in correcting inequalities; and commemorating lives lost to COVID19
Additional reporting made possible by Dr. UYA and Mr. Femi Okutubo of Trumpet Media Group. The meeting was was facilitated by the Mayor’s office and Mentoring Cmdt Alistair Soyode.