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Rutland County Council says no-one could have imagined what 2020 had in store and that there will be challenges in 2021

Oliver Hemsley (Con) - leader of Rutland County Council - pens his New Year's message.

Here we are at the start of another year. Traditionally, this is a time for setting resolutions, turning over a new leaf and making plans. As things stand, there is a huge amount of uncertainty about what lies ahead.

Twelve months ago, no-one could have imagined what 2020 would have in store and that we would all find ourselves sorely tested by the coronavirus pandemic. Even as we celebrated the rollout of a vaccine, last minute changes to Christmas plans and news of a new strain of Covid reminded us that there is still a long way to go.

Coun Oliver Hemsley
Coun Oliver Hemsley

Thank you to everyone who continues to follow the rules, restrictions and public health guidance that are so critical to reducing the spread of Covid-19. These rules are likely to be with us in some form or another for much of 2021, so we must try to summon up the strength and determination to keep going.

As we continue to combat the virus, we’re also having to count the financial cost of Covid-19 and consider what this means in the long-term. Businesses and households have been hit hard by the pandemic, after losing income because of lockdown and furloughing. A huge amount of work was done last year to support our local communities and this will not change in 2021.

Financial pressure has also been building on local government. For many councils, Covid-19 could be the final straw when taken together with years of government funding cuts and increased costs caused by soaring demand for care services.

Rutland County Council will not be immune to these pressures and I suspect we too will be facing some extremely difficult decisions about the future of our local services and serious conversations will need to be had with everyone who lives in Rutland.

I’m hopeful that 2021 will come to be remembered as the year that we beat Covid-19 and returned to some kind of normality. During the hardest moments of last year, I was encouraged by the way in which businesses, local communities, volunteer networks and partners all joined us to help people. As we head into 2021, we will need this spirit of collaboration more than ever and I am confident we can work together the meet these challenges head-on.

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