The leader of Southwark Council has asked for patience from residents as it deals with the Covid-19 outbreak.  

Providing council updates in a newsletter, Cllr Peter John urged people to follow Government guidance during the lockdown and only go out for essential reasons.  

He said: “We have made good and quick progress on developing our new community hub that will support vulnerable residents, and especially those who the NHS has identified as needing to take extra care, known as the shielding programme.  

“Our priority will be to work with voluntary and community groups to help those who are unable to rely on friends and family.  

“We will make sure they receive the food, essential supplies, medicines and social contact they need. 

“I want to pay tribute to the many hardworking and dedicated Southwark Council staff who are working to keep vital services going in order to protect our most vulnerable residents.  

“We are ensuring these critical services are adequately resourced whilst closing down some areas of the council’s normal work which cannot carry on under the current conditions. 

“I would ask for your continued patience and understanding as we work through the changes we need to make to our services to redirect staff to key services like adult social care.” 

The council has added £1.5 million to its emergency support scheme – if residents are suffering financial hardship they can apply for help.  

“This scheme is discretionary with limited funding available, so awards are limited to one per household. 

“We normally provide goods or services rather than cash.   

“For example, you might qualify for a food voucher or help with your energy bills,” according to the council.  

Southwark has suspended all debt collection related to council tax and business rates. 

Parks remain open but any enclosed areas, such as playgrounds, cafés, and tennis courts, are closed.  

Libraries, leisure centres, and sports facilities have all been closed, as well as the borough’s recycling centre.  

All key workers can get free, virtual parking permits, allocated through the businesses and organisations that hire them.  

The council is waiting for money from the Government to help businesses affected by the Covid-19 outbreak before it hands out support grants.