As we move into a New Year, it is often a time to look back and reflect on the previous year. 2021 has certainly been another extraordinary year with the Covid pandemic affecting all our lives, but it is now time to move forward.
January is an acknowledged moment of the old giving way to the new and all that implies, the coveted clean slate …. that chance to start over. As you sit down and read my column, it is a time where many are formulating their New Year’s resolutions, hopes and goals for the year to come.
Many challenges remain from the last year, but thanks to the outstanding efforts of our NHS, Covid volunteers and our community, the booster roll-out continues apace. Having your booster is the single most important thing we can do to help ourselves return to normality. I am so proud of how people in Cheadle have coped with the many restrictions and difficulties that we have all had to face, your resilience has been inspiring.
The rate of the cases of Omicron is continuing at a high level but there is real optimism that hospitalisations are falling and that this variant is milder than previous ones. I do believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel and with our fantastic vaccine rollout, we are certainly in a different position to this time last year.
The Government has supported residents and businesses throughout the pandemic, and the announcement from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, before Christmas – of new grants of up to £6,000 for hospitality and leisure sectors for example, further exemplifies this commitment. Since the Government announced the Small Business Grant Funding scheme to provide financial assistance to coronavirus-gripped businesses, Stockport Council has supported more than 4,300 businesses with payments exceeding £50million
Our children head back to school this week and the priority of everyone in government is to keep education settings open for as many children as possible. I know from all the letters and emails I’ve received how much this matters to parents and young people. The start of this term will be tough as we adapt to the Omicron variant – but I know that our education and childcare workforce is doing an outstanding job in implementing measures that have helped to keep children and young people in face-to-face settings.
May I wish you all a very Happy New Year!