Exeter's civic leaders reflect on last 12 months: City's spirit has shone through
Exeter City Council leader Pete Edwards
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I wish you all a very happy new year.
Thanks to the generosity of the Express and Echo and Sungift Solar, we once again have Christmas lights in the High Street. This year we have also had the added excitement of the Christmas market on the Cathedral Green and the Indie Xmas Shopping Crawl with local independent businesses.
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum continued its relaunch, outperforming visitor estimates and winning the museum of the year award.
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Residents flocked to see the Olympic Torch pass through our city, and they were back out in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
In 2013, the city council will face the challenge of a shrinking budget. However, we will continue to transform the way we work to maintain quality services. I believe that 2013 will be another good year for Exeter.
Lord Mayor of Exeter Rob Newby
This has been quite an eventful year. The Queen came to Exeter, then we had the Olympic torch, which was my first duty as mayor and how proud I was.
The RAMM has re-opened and won the museum of the year award – a fitting tribute to the work of the staff, and the Earl of Wessex declared it open.
John Lewis opened its doors and has added to the vibrancy of our city. The Christmas markets, together with Castle Street and Sidwell Street, have brought a Christmas feel-good factor.
To my staff at the Civic Centre, museum, parks department, cleansing services and everyone at the city council, thank you for your efforts to keep this city looking great.
Finally to the citizens of this historic and great city, may I take this opportunity on behalf of myself and my family to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year. God Bless.
The Bishop of Exeter Rt Rev Michael Langrish
Putting the piles of presents under the Christmas trees this year, I have not been able to get out of my mind the image of another tree and under it a young woman, sleeping rough, and then crushed as it toppled over in the recent storms.
It made me ask serious questions about what I want to see under and around all the trees of this world this Christmas, especially at a time of austerity.
There is one gift we can all give: we can give ourselves, and our care and attention to others.
It was the gift God gave us at Christmas; he gave it freely but not without cost. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why love is one of the hardest things to give and receive as we get older too – it's something we accept as a right as a child but as we get older tend build much more defensive barriers around ourselves that prevent the giving and receiving of love.
My Christmas wish is that all may know something of the joy of giving and receiving this wonderful gift.
Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw
This time last year I predicted 2012 would be grim economically with the jubilee and Olympics to cheer us up in the middle. So it transpired.
In 2013 the economy should do better. If it doesn't we'll be facing an unprecedented "triple dip" recession. But any growth is likely to be feeble as the Government's austerity continues to depress consumer and business confidence.
The good news is Exeter continues to outperform most of the country. It's one of the best places in Britain to start a business and the city council has done a great job attracting investment despite the recession.
The city's schools, college and university continue to go from strength to strength.
We've also hopefully seen off Government plans for regional pay, which would have been bad for the South West. It also looks hopeful we'll secure funding to upgrade our flood defences.
Next year will see a slew of tax and benefits changes that I worry will further hurt the disabled and vulnerable. I'm also concerned we'll begin to feel the full impact of the Government's botched re-organisation of the NHS.
But when I feel a bit gloomy I think of the Exeter school pupils I've met over the last year raising money for disabled children, or the many people involved in charities, churches and other voluntary organisations.
Thanks to everyone who has contacted me over the last year. Your views, feedback and concerns have been vital in helping me do my job. I hope in 2013 even more of you will do so and we can continue working together for Exeter.
Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish
This year will be remembered as a great year in British history. We celebrated the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. 2012 will also be remembered as the year London hosted the greatest Olympic Games ever.
We demonstrated the UK has the political will, the community spirit and the infrastructure to compete and that we are still one of greatest cultural contributors to the world.
This year has also seen welcome news on the economy. The Government has cut the deficit by a quarter and the jobless rate has decreased by the biggest quarterly amount in a decade.
It is hard to know for certain what 2013 will bring. Certainly we will have a new royal baby with the news that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant and I would like to wish the couple the best of luck in the future.
All that's left for me to say is Merry Christmas and have a happy new year.