New Year’s messages from Comet country figures

PUBLIC figures from Comet country share their views on the year and what they think lies ahead for 2011.

Robert Gordon, leader of Hertfordshire County Council

I think it’s fair to say that 2010 has been a pretty good year for your County Council.

I don’t claim that we are perfect – and we will strive to tackle those areas where we still have work to do, but I am confident that we are well placed to tackle the challenges of the next few years.

Cllr David Levett, chairman of North Hertfordshire District Council

In 2011 we face unprecedented cuts to all our local authority finances which fund many discretionary services within the community and inevitably there will be some difficult decisions to make over the future of these. There is no doubt that some of the responsibility for their delivery will then fall on the voluntary sector and the next year will see many changes in the way that we support them.

We have the opportunity here to look afresh at the way we do things, let’s cut the red tape, forget past differences and work together for the common good. It’s time we stopped giving reasons or excuses for not doing something and instead look at the resources we do have, look at new or different ways of doing things and most importantly work together to find ways to make things happen.

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Let us make 2011 the year we become once again a society that cares and supports one another and looks to the future, put the doom and gloom behind us, and to quote a well known song – “always look on the bright side of life”.

Cllr Lynda Needham, leader of North Herts District Council

2010 has been a year of change with the new government introducing policies that will affect communities at all levels. North Herts District Council faces increasing challenges in the coming years as our income is substantially reduced and at the same time new demands are made on us, as community leaders.

Councillors and officers have been working hard to reduce costs and find efficiency savings but there is a limit to how much we can do without affecting services. We will continue to look at every avenue to make savings and keep our residents informed about what is happening.

It is not all bad news though. We live in one of the loveliest areas of the country and can all enjoy many of its advantages.

Cllr Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council

There is no doubt that 2011 will present some serious challenges for our community in Stevenage as people and organisations face economic uncertainty and the impact that may have on their jobs, homes and families, but I believe our town has a strong spirit and reputation for working together to ensure Stevenage continues to grow and prosper.

We see some very positive signs for the future with a planning application coming forward for our new town centre, our Business Technology Centre now filling up with new businesses, work starting on the Science Park at Glaxo and Labour’s investment in Lister Hospital now reconfirmed by the Government so work on our hospital can continue. And we have a league football club! I hope Stevenage FC will defeat Newcastle on Saturday, January 8, and continue on our FA Cup run.

2011 is a watershed year for our town, if we all work together we can ensure that Stevenage emerges from the recession with a brighter, more positive future. Our town was created to innovate, and there has never been a more important time for that spirit of innovation to take us forward.

Lee Boswell, Letchworth GC town centre manager

The coming year will be a test for our country and town but I believe that we have taken the first steps in making Letchworth town centre relevant to the future needs of its citizens.

People have shown their love and respect for our wonderful Garden City by backing the retailers and attending the events and we look forward to 2011 with real optimism.

Keith Hoskins, Hitchin town centre manager

1. To see Woolworths occupied at long last

2. To see the Town Hall successfully transferred to the community.

3. To see progress on improving Churchgate

4. To see progress on Bancroft Gardens and something happen at long last on the disused Bancroft toilets.

5. To maintain a successful market

6. To have an even better Hitchin Festival in 2011

7. To provide an even better service to the community

Also world peace, an economic upturn and better weather...

John Lewis, chief executive, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation

2011 will be my first full year at the Foundation and I am looking forward to making sure we continue to support, fund and promote the many projects and activities within the town.

No doubt things will be tough this year for many organisations, voluntary groups and local businesses and I want the Foundation to play its part in working openly with others to make 2011 a positive year for everyone who lives, works and plays in our Garden City.