The leader of Redbridge Council has set out his plans to make Redbridge “the best place to live, work and raise a family” over the next four years.

Jas Athwal, who was formally re-elected leader on 30th May, pledged to build a “safer, healthier, cleaner, greener and fairer” borough for residents.

The wide-ranging plans include measures to continue fighting crime and anti-social behaviour, tackling child poverty, improving air quality and opening the first university campus.

Read more: Labour strengthens hold on Redbridge in 2022 local elections

Addressing the council chamber, Cllr Athwal said: “Over the next four years we will work with local people, businesses and partners to continue to transform the borough, to ensure there is a bright future for everyone who lives in Redbridge.

“Together we can make a difference, this Labour administration has a clear vision, and we have a plan to deliver that vision and now we have a mandate: to make Redbridge the best place to live, work, raise family and to call a home.”

However, the Labour leader warned of a “bleak” national picture which will “hit the poorest the hardest”.

He added: “I cannot talk about what we will achieve and plan to deliver without talking about the national picture, it’s bleak.

“Earlier this month inflation was at 9% – that’s a fact. The highest rate since 1982 – that’s a fact. 

“Instead of throwing parties and covering up corruption, like the government has done, we will work together.

“The Conservatives across the chamber have more in common with us, because we are united.

“This is why we step up to be councillors, because we will work together, we will put local families first, we will do everything we can to support people who need help.”

Cllr Athwal criticised the low funding the Redbridge receives compared to other London boroughs and the loss of 60% of government grants under austerity.

In response, Conservative leader Cllr Paul Canal agreed it was unfair that Redbridge receives low funding and pledged to work with Labour to get better resources.

However, he added: “It’s been the case through successive governments, it’s not a Labour thing, it’s largely a civil service thing, we need root and branch reform of how councils are funded.”

Cllr Athwal defended investments made with council funds under his stewardship, saying he avoided cutting services by using “capital gains”.

Redbridge Council property investments include £62 million on commercial properties, including the Deco Building and Iceland in Ilford town centre, as well as a retail park in Beckton and an office building in Romford.

He questioned: “Which service would you like me to cut, left arm or right arm?”

Cllr Athwal also argued the council has been “replenishing” the borough’s financial reserves and “putting money back”.

When approached for further detail by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) after the meeting, Cllr Athwal declined to explain how much the council has in reserves, until the first cabinet meeting on 21st June.

To tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, the Labour leader promised to introduce “dedicated” night time enforcement teams, parks patrol teams and more enforcement hubs.

The council will also “continue to implement” the findings of Redbridge Community Crime Commission, which singled out areas such as women’s safety, domestic abuse, drug-related crime as a high-priority.

The first of the borough’s five new community hubs, originally announced in 2018, which “will be complete”, Cllr Athwal said.

The leader also pledged to create a child poverty strategy to create clean-air zones with air quality monitors around schools and deliver Wanstead swimming pool.

On transport, he pledged to install 1,000 electric vehicle charging points and to “continue to invest” in cycling infrastructure.

Further details about the first university campus in the borough will not be made public until a deal is finalised, Cllr Athwal has told the LDRS.