I begin this New Year with the same positive mental attitude as when I first stood as an Independent Councillor for Carterton. I am an optimist – I see challenges as opportunities and difficult times as tests of character, of substance and of our British indomitable spirit.
2011 is going to be a difficult year, as all tiers of government continue to take hard but seemingly necessary measures to sort out the country’s financial problems. We, as a community, will be required to be more innovative, more responsive to what our community needs and we will need to offer better value for money. The impact of local government cuts are also beginning to be understood and we have already begun the task of coming together as a community, rolling up our sleeves and seeking those innovative community led solutions to the challenges that present themselves to us.
For my fellow servicemen serving in Afghanistan, 2011 will be a significant and pivotal year in which we hope to see the transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan people. The brave service of our military personnel to their country means so much to all of us, and I know that we all have complete respect for the incredible sacrifices that they and their families have made. We wish them well and we pray for their speedy and safe return to Britain.
And so, looking forward with optimism and cognisant of the significant challenges ahead – I ask you not just to accept what might be thought to be inevitable pain in the form of cuts and loss of services, but to be part of the innovative community led solutions.
I wish you all a very Happy and successful New Year!