Figures released today by the Office of National Statistics shows that the UK economy suffered its weakest period of GDP growth in five years. GDP growth was just 0.1% in the first quarter of 2018.
The Government blamed the snow in late February and early March for these unsettling figures – but as Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, said: “It’s the avalanche of cuts that has done the long-term damage.”
It will be interesting to keep watch on the growth figures and question the government’s austerity policies. For a long time Labour has been calling for the re-investment in our cities and national infrastructure to stimulate inclusive growth, and blaming the snow is not an excuse.
In fact today I was able to visit the council’s hardworking Housing Management Team who worked extremely hard to keep things running during the bout of snow we had in March.
The team deliver the day to day repairs to approximately 27,000 tenants, structural repairs to approximately 1,500 leasehold and refurbishment to empty homes. They also carry out planned programmes of work gas servicing, fire safety etc. Our workforce is multi trade, working on electrical, gas, plumbing, general trades & carpentry.
I heard that Gas Section, Response Repairs changed their focus from business as usual to boiler breakdown repairs caused by the severe weather. They had to deal with over 600 breakdowns – the vast majority being dealt with within 12 hours in deteriorating weather and road conditions.
Scheduling staff worked around the clock to identify and contact the vulnerable tenants and prioritise their repair and 10 Engineers volunteered to work on Sunday to reduce the backlog. With the dedication and commitment shown by the scheduling staff in Sandy Park and the can do attitude of the Gas Engineers and Plumbers we dealt with all the breakdowns caused by the severe weather in 5 days.
On the Friday the response repairs operatives who couldn’t drive to work cleared snow from the paths and gritting them afterwards. The operatives were greeted by our older tenants with hot drinks, encouragement and thanks. This back up snow plan meant operatives were able to directly contribute to the safety of our citizens and demonstrate our continued commitment to its citizens.
In total, 39 sites were cleared and gritted on Thursday and 21 sites were cleared and gritted on Friday. The operatives come from a variety of trade backgrounds and very quickly turned their hand to the task in hand.
I am grateful for the commitment and hard work during the recent severe weather. I want to thank everyone who contributed in some way to making sure that people were kept safe and helped vital services to carry on despite the disruption.