PUBLISHED: 16:05 21 December 2006 | UPDATED: 13:42 04 May 2010
# Will it be a year of agreement? FOLLOWING the hottest autumn since records began (1659 for those who are interested) it seems we are more likely to spend Christmas bathed in sunshine rather than blanketed in snow. Of course, this is by no means unprec
# Will it be a year of agreement?
FOLLOWING the hottest autumn since records began (1659 for those who are interested) it seems we are more likely to spend Christmas bathed in sunshine rather than blanketed in snow.
Of course, this is by no means unprecedented, but the trend towards warmer temperatures is now well established and has devastating implications for the planet. There is no longer serious scientific dispute about the threat of climate change, and 2006 marked the welcome emergence of a genuine consensus to take action to reduce carbon emissions.
Sadly, there has been less agreement on other key policy areas. While the Government was claiming that the NHS was enjoying its "best year ever" 103 hospital trusts across England were sliding into deficit (12 are 'technically bankrupt'), 20,000 jobs were being shed and vital services cut.
After billions have been spent on numerous schemes to encourage people into work, we learn that the number of young people who are neither in education, work or in a training scheme has increased by 15 per cent since 1997.
And, after almost 10 years in office, we hear a Labour Home Secretary declare that his department is not "fit for purpose".
Quite how Labour has managed to increase spending so substantially and yet have so little to show for it is beyond me. Over the next year, Gordon Brown will increase taxes by the equivalent of £750 per household. Like everyone else, I hope that 2007 will be the year when improvements to our public services truly reflect the massive investment in them. However, given that Gordon Brown, the arch centraliser, is likely to become Prime Minister next year, I am not too optimistic.
2007 must also be a year when the consensus on climate change yields positive international and domestic agreement. No one really knows what a Gordon Brown premiership will be like, but the current Chancellor's lack of commitment to this issue does not inspire confidence.
If Gordon Brown becoming Prime Minister is not an event I am particularly looking forward to, the same cannot be said of the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery which we will celebrate next year. But, as we commemorate the end of this wicked trade, we must renew our efforts to bring to an end the modern day slavery of human trafficking.
Great challenges lie ahead and I will continue to play my part in meeting them.
Have a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.
# So much done in a short time
It has been a busy year for the district, with a lot being achieved in an extremely short time. As chairman, I have seen at first-hand the hard work which officers, councillors and the public have been involved in and how we have all come together for the benefit of the people we serve.
This year we have made significant strides to deal with the issues confronting the district on transport, community development and waste recycling. We will have further challenges in the new year as we aim to meet the expectations of the public and, as councillors, we have elections in May to concentrate our minds.
These matters are for the future. I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of my fellow councillors and everyone at East Cambridgeshire District Council, to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.