A NEW Year should be full of optimism and hope, but in 2012 Britain faces serious challenges.
We are gripped by economic uncertainty and the rest of Europe is in an even worse position. In every nation people are worried about their jobs.
The road to recovery is never easy, but Britain is no stranger to challenges. Although we cannot yet be certain, the British economy appears to be out of the danger zone. If we continue to sort out our problems, reduce our deficit and make the most of our opportunities, I still believe that the UK can be one of the international success stories of the New Year.
Uppermost in most of our minds as we enter the New Year is jobs.
Ultimately it is not the government that creates jobs – it is businesses. So we need to make life easier in 2012 for business.
By cutting regulation, supporting employment and boosting apprenticeships we can encourage the development of new small businesses in East Yorkshire as well as across the country. They could be our most important job creators and the route to lifting our economy out of the doldrums.
At the end of a difficult year, it is worth reflecting that there were some positive achievements of 2011.
A planned fuel duty hike was scrapped, the international price of oil started to fall and the 2012 slashing of the Humber Bridge toll is about to come into effect, giving a boost for our region.
And in the New Year thousands of homes and businesses in and around Bridlington will, for the first time, benefit from access to super-fast broadband.
This new technology will open up countless opportunities for e-commerce, from working from home, to home entertainment.
In 2012 East Yorkshire should discover that geographical remoteness no longer means digital isolation.
Some proposed government cutbacks in 2012 are most welcome. The cutting of the subsidy for on-shore wind farms by 10% will mean less viable turbine projects will surely be abandoned. Also, following a change in the law, future planning decisions should give greater regard to local issues and opinion, and not be driven by centrally imposed national targets.
Finally, as we celebrate the New Year we should pause to remember the brave men and women in our armed forces and their families.
Many of them saw active service in 2011 and some paid the ultimate price serving their country. We should never take their sacrifice for granted.
Despite the world’s current economic uncertainty, there is no such thing as inevitability in history. We can try to make our economy stronger, we can chose to make our world safer and we can decide to make our future brighter.
And, I believe that working together, we can make this New Year better than the last.