Most of us will wonder what 2017 holds in store.
On the national scene we must hope Brexit negotiations make good progress.
The referendum decided we should leave the EU – a decision Government and politicians must respect. It did not, however, determine the form of Brexit. That is for the Government to negotiate and Parliament to approve.
Free trade is in all our economic interests.
In the North East I hope progress is made towards meaningful devolution – and not just north of the Tyne.
The North East as a whole makes a better geographical area.
There is strong business support for more decisions being made locally. Let’s hope the region’s (Labour) politicians respond.
Within the city there is the prospect of the start of the development of the Vaux site.
This has been so long delayed we must all hope it now proceeds without further obstruction.
The completion of the new bridge across the Wear and its accompanying road network augur so well for the continuing development of the city’s economy; for jobs and wealth-creation.
The nation still has to balance its books. Good progress is being made and two-thirds of the record deficit left by the last Labour government has been eliminated. But austerity cannot be painless and the council still has decisons to make about further reductions in its spending.
It really must maximise its revenue from council tax and business rates and concentrate upon the efficient provision of the most essential services.
The visit of the Tall Ships next year gives us an opportunity of promoting the city.
Let us hope we can build upon that with the City of Culture bid (for 2021) and be able to look forward to the future with hope and optimism.
Coun Peter Wood,
Leader, Conservative Group, Sunderland City Council