What a year it has been. And what a year we have in prospect. While I feel confident that Worcestershire is well placed to face a challenging future, I also recognise just how challenging that future is.
Many good things have happened locally over the last twelve months. For me two long-running campaigns have come to fruition with the extensive redoubling of the Cotswold railway line and the reopening of the Droitwich Canals. Both will help to build a stronger economic base in the county by attracting more visitors and making it easier to do business here. Recently the county council has announced an ambitious scheme to extend and improve broadband provision in Worcestershire, which is hugely encouraging too.

But we all know that the world is not a comfortable place right now. While local politicians are doing all they can to make lives better for local people, with things like council tax freezes and careful control of costs, it is the international situation that should worry us all.

Two things worry me most. First the instability in the Middle East. What will Iran’s determination to build a nuclear bomb mean in 2012? And will countries like Syria and Egypt become free and stable places?

The second is whether or not the West will show the necessary determination to live within its means. The Eurozone is in a mess because some countries have borrowed too heavily to pay for a lifestyle they cannot afford. Until they, and indeed the USA, address their national debt problems, there will be no confidence in the international economy.

So these are worrying times – but at least I am sure that Worcestershire has done all it reasonably can to withstand the challenges of the New Year. I hope it is a better one for you personally than I fear it is going to be for the world.


Back to Articles