I want to wish a very Happy New Year to all local residents.
I’m sure we all really want 2022 to be the year in which we might finally recover some of the quality of life that we enjoyed before the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a few of the things that I’m hopeful about for the year ahead, and also some of the things that are worrying me…
1) The Regeneration of North Shields. Several parts of the town centres are building sites at the moment, and the work is only going to increase in 2022. However, any inconvenience caused is going to be well worth it as we see some great new amenities appearing in the town. Your Labour councillors, working with council officers have secured tens of millions of pounds of investment to make possible the biggest set of improvements North Shields has seen in a generation.
2) New Job Opportunities. Like the rest of the country our local economy has been disrupted. Despite this North Tyneside has seen growth in a range of sectors, and right across the board there are job vacancies on offer, many of them being well-paid positions with reputable employers. This year I expect the council’s ‘Inclusive Economy’ strategy to make a real difference in ensuring that anyone lacking decent, secure work can get a helping hand into a rewarding job.
3) Improvements in local Health & Wellbeing. The NHS and Care sector have taken a battering in the last couple of years. One of the ways we can ensure better health for local people is by investing more into preventative work. This is the year when North Tyneside’s new Health & Wellbeing Strategy will kick off, supported by various funding streams. It is called “Equally Well” and puts the emphasis on closing health inequalities. I think it’s an excellent plan and I believe that the strong partnership approach it is built on will lead to positive results for public health.
1) Large numbers off work due to covid. In the short term I’m worried that the Government’s lackadaisical approach to Omicron through November and December is going to lead to very high numbers of staff absences in January and February. Whilst only a small percentage will need hospital treatment there is a likelihood that many essential services will be disrupted, including emergency services and transport.
2) Cost of living rising. The double whammy of Brexit and Covid has pushed up the prices of many consumer goods, from groceries to clothes to cars. The failure of the government to scale up UK energy production from renewables has left us over-reliant on imported gas. The refusal of the government to provide any serious support to home energy efficiency schemes leaves thousands of North Tyneside residents paying far too much to heat their draughty homes. Once the energy price cap lifts in April we will need to do all we can to support those who will be faced with bills that they simply can’t pay.
What are your hopes and fears for 2022? You can leave a comment on my Facebook page.