New Year's message from Council Leader Tudor Evans OBE

I think I can safely say that 2020 has not been the best year and I sincerely hope 2021 will be less character forming.

We have all had to make significant changes to the way we work, live or go out - or not as the case may be - and a lot of businesses are facing real difficulties as a result of lockdowns.

I do not want to dwell here too much on 2020 because we’ve all had enough of it but to look forward to 2021. With the promise of vaccines on their way - we should be optimistic that the end is in sight - although until the mass vaccination programme is complete we still need to keep on our guard.

I think this year has taught us all to take nothing for granted. So many things we assumed would always be there were taken away from us. So if there is one thing I would love more of us to do next year, it is to enjoy life more. Get out there, follow Plymouth’s trails, go into the shops – especially the independent businesses – visit the theatres, the cinemas, the National Marine Aquarium and the pubs and bars as and when they are allowed to reopen. They are what make our city such a great place and we do not want to lose them.

The good news is we have a cracking events programme planned for 2021. We’ve got Sail GP which is going to make the America’s Cup look like a small regatta. We’ve got Tom Jones on the Hoe, the British Art Show - we are the only city ever to get a second visit - we’ve got fireworks, our rescheduled Mayflower programme and the Box - our love letter to Plymouth - is going to have lots of great events. It has only been open a few months and already has a special place not just in the city, but it’s gaining a national reputation.

We’re doing our bit to tackle climate change and have just published our second action plan - we will have one every year until 2030. Not a strategy - action plans with actions in them. We’ve got our Green Minds project, which has seen the arrival of a beaver in Plymouth. We’re making progress with our National Marine Park, we’re planting 2,000 trees this year, we’re developing our wild meadows to help pollinators, through our Crowdfunder Climate Challenge we are helping the SHIPs project remove discarded tyres from Plymouth Sound and surrounding rivers, we’ve introduced electric vehicles to our fleet, we’re introducing electric charge points and we’re working with partners on sustainable technology.

We’re fighting hard to protect jobs and encourage news ones. Our Resurgam recovery programme is well and truly underway. There are a lot construction projects underway, we’ve committed to keeping the pounds in PL post codes and we are providing support across all our sectors. I recommend checking this out to get a sense of the phenomenal scale and ambition our city is showing.

There are things that still need fixing, There are still too many people homeless, still too many people living in poverty, but my passion is making sure Plymouth reaches its full potential . We have so much going for us already. I am so proud of this city.  It really pulled together in a crisis. So many people and organisations have been truly exceptional. All the volunteers helping others. This year has shown Plymouth at its very best. I think we can build on that.