Hoping a fair wind will blow

IT was about this time last year, I mentioned that Hartlepool Borough Council was approaching the most challenging year ever and I’m afraid that turned out to be the case.

There is a saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going and that is certainly what we have done.

As this year draws to a close, the cabinet has gone out to consultation on the budget proposals for next year.

And although the financial outlook makes for pretty grim reading, I believe we have put together a proposed budget that will protect as many front-line services and jobs as is absolutely possible.

I also believe that we are making the very best out of a bad situation.

The change of Government and the world economic crisis were not our making, but we seem to be being hit disproportionately hard in Hartlepool and the North-East.

That said, we have made excellent progress with Local Enterprise Partnerships and enterprise zones and, as an area, done extremely well out of the Regional Growth Fund so far.

The real success of this work will be for Hartlepool to attract one of the big wind turbine manufacturers and the best Christmas present we could hope for would be for Gamesa to choose to come here.

All of the experts are saying it will get worse before it gets better economically so we can expect to brace ourselves for another tough year ahead.

We will see what happens in that respect. But we are about as best placed as we can hope to be to continue to ride out the storms.

Don’t get me wrong 2012 will undoubtedly be even tougher than this year was and some of the decisions that will need to be made will be more difficult than any that have been in the past.

But I’m confident that I’ll be able to look back this time next year and reflect on another good year for Hartlepool.

My column will return early in the new year so until then, I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.