Council chamber
The council chamber has to be aired every hour during meetings

This week’s meeting of Greenwich Council has been cancelled as the Omicron variant of coronavirus takes hold in London.

Councillors had been due to gather in the cramped chamber at Woolwich Town Hall on Wednesday for the showpiece meeting, which sees senior councillors questioned about their policies.

But the meeting is off as efforts mount to slow the spread of Omicron, which now accounts for at least 40 per cent of cases in the capital.

Last week the UK Health Security Agency reported that there were five confirmed Omicron cases and nine unconfirmed cases in Greenwich, but the new variant is spreading quickly.

Councillors only returned to the Edwardian council chamber in May after a year of holding meetings remotely. Meetings held in the chamber have to have hourly breaks so the room can be aired.

The cancellation means residents and opposition councillors will be unable to ask questions of senior councillors. The finances of Woolwich Works and the ballooning cost of the council’s housebuilding programme were among the topics that could have come up.

While emergency legislation allowed councils to hold remote meetings last year, those rules expired in the spring. With the legal situation unclear, some councils have continued to hold some meetings virtually; while Greenwich has insisted in holding most in person, including a scrutiny panel meeting about social care costs that disabled participants were unable to attend.

The government has called in the army to try to deliver at least one million booster jabs a day to protect people from Omicron. The first known UK death was confirmed today.

Over-30s are now able to book booster jabs online, with over-18s to follow on Wednesday.

Walk-in vaccination centres are also open across south-east London, including at Queen Elizabeth, Lewisham and Guy’s Hospitals. Jabs are also available at The Valley in Charlton this weekend. Full details are available on the NHS South East London website.

Help 853 continue reporting on public interest issues in Greenwich and southeast London – we are the only outlet regularly producing original journalism in the borough, and we can only do it with your funding.

Please join over 100 donors who use Steady, PressPatron or Patreon to give a little towards our costs every month. The money pays the bills, a wage for the editor and pays others to write for the site.

You can also buy the editor a coffee at Thank you.