Blog: Good riddance to 2020

Along with most if not all of you, I’d like to say good riddance to 2020. For many people in Suffolk it has been an extremely difficult year and certainly the worst most of us can remember.

The painful loss of life, the illness and rising unemployment has taken its toll.  Sadly, the curse of Covid 19 endures, be it through the mutation of the virus, the strain on the health and care systems or the damage to our economy. I can only add my personal sympathy and concern towards all of you, whilst appreciating words can bring only scant comfort.

Despite the darkness, however, we must do our best to think positively and believe the New Year will mark a turning of the tide very soon. Never has it been so important that the much-repeated message to “Stick with it Suffolk” is followed. There has been enormous sacrifice made by many thousands of people across the county and those on the front line have carried out their duties often at considerable risk to themselves. To all of those individuals I’d like to say we are all deeply, deeply grateful, and I can’t imagine what life would have been like without their care, compassion and commitment. Now is not the time to relax our collective guard otherwise we risk throwing away the hard one gains made since the first lockdown began in March.

It is customary in our household to use the start of the New Year to look at what we aim to do in the next twelve months – a kind of refresh and renewal. Looking forward I do believe the signs of hope are there.

The emergence of more than one vaccine to immunise all of us will be gathering momentum as the weeks go by. It will probably take several months before most of us are fully vaccinated so we must be patient. Personally, I think it has been an astonishing achievement to develop safe vaccines in such a short time and a great deal of the research has been carried out in the UK. We should all be very proud of all those involved.

The economy has taken an unprecedented battering, the likes of which have never experienced before in peacetime, but it will recover. We must do everything possible to support local businesses and boost local demand as this will help improve the viability of many businesses and the job prospects for those these organisations employ. As PCC I continue to be very concerned about the prospects for our young people which have been worsened by the pandemic. But during next year I pledge to continue our commissioning support for young people, especially those in difficulty, to help boost their future opportunities.

One of the more remarkable ‘highlights’ (if that’s the right word) of the pandemic is the extraordinary development of community spirit and the rallying round to help those in need – supplying medication, provisions or other assistance. That powerful drive to succeed in the fight against the pandemic shows what can be achieved when we put our collective minds to the task in hand. This surely provides a reason to be cautiously optimistic for next year.

On the policing front I am pleased the Home Office has confirmed the funding will be provided to recruit an extra 53 officers promised through Operation Uplift during the next financial year, we need more police officers but it’s a step in the right direction. Keeping homes and businesses safe and crime levels low will aid the economic recovery and boost Suffolk’s reputation as being a good place to live, work, travel and invest. Our officers have being fantastic throughput this pandemic, putting themselves at risk to keep us

In April it will be a year since Her Majesty The Queen delivered that wonderful address to the nation saying, “We will meet again.” Let’s hope by this April that prophesy will come true.

I wish all of you a happy and peaceful new year and look forward to happier times.  Keep safe.

Published in the East Anglian Daily Times December 2020