New Year’s message from MP for Thame John Howell

MP for Thame John Howell brings you his views in a monthly Thame Gazette column
MP for Thame John Howell brings you his views in a monthly Thame Gazette column

LET me start by wishing everyone a peaceful and prosperous 2012.

I also want especially to thank all those who have worked so hard for the many charities and voluntary organisations which make this such a good place to live and work.

It has been a great pleasure to meet so many of you and to share a little in the work you do.

Whether you are sportingly inclined or not, the Olympics this year will be a major focus of attention and one which I hope we can all enjoy.

I hope too that we will enjoy the benefits of the tourism the games will undoubtedly bring.

It’s also the Queens Jubilee too – a key national celebration and a chance to celebrate a monarch who has given so much to this country.

I have always resisted trying to predict the future but with so many major world issues unresolved, there is no doubt that 2012 will, in many ways, see more of the same.

At the centre of this will undoubtedly be the continuing crisis in the Eurozone. This constituency has survived the economic situation better than most. We have, for example, seen unemployment in the constituency fall during the year including youth unemployment. That is no cause for complacency but it is a tribute at least in part to the strength of our local businesses.

2012 will see the completion of two of the first Neighbourhood Plans permitted by the Localism Act.

It is a great pleasure to see one of our villages (Woodcote) and one of our towns (Thame) as guinea pigs or frontrunners for this. These plans will for the first time be a legal part of the planning system and will allow local communities to help shape the places where they live.

Above all, in 2012 we need to stick to the path of restoring the economy. Keeping international confidence will keep interests rates low to keep mortgage costs and the cost of business loans down.