NEW Year greetings for 2012 seem destined to carry a warning that it will not be an easy year for many people.
The job losses at Alcan, unless a buyer can be found who will keep the plant going, will affect many families.
Other job cuts, especially in the public services, will add to the impact.
That means that we have to put every possible effort into securing new job opportunities and spending what limited capital funds are available in measures which will help.
The Morpeth northern by-pass, the case for which I pressed strongly with Transport Minister Norman Baker, creates many opportunities for the construction industry and we are hoping that the Chancellor’s decision to give enterprise zone status to sites around the Ashington and Blyth area will open up job opportunities in renewable energy.
At the same time, I believe it is vital that we keep down interest rates, get the banks lending to small business, and help those on lowest incomes with the income tax cuts and state pension increases which we have already agreed.
For many people the Olympics will be a highlight of 2012 – we are doing our best to get as much spin-off benefit as we can for the North-East, both in sport and in other fields like tourism and the arts – Northumberland scouts, for example, have secured Olympic funding for work on their permanent campsite.
The Herald has struck the right note in its positive campaign to promote our area, and I am determined to support the campaign in every way I can, so that we give ourselves the best possible chances in 2012. And 2012 will also be the Queen’s Jubilee: Sixty years of service is something to celebrate.
A very Happy New Year to all Herald readers.
SIR ALAN BEITH MP