2018 will be a pivotal year for the UK. Like it or loathe it, Brexit will dominate not just the news agenda, but many aspects of life as the country makes the adjustments required by such a momentous decision by the British people.
If you work for an exporting business, you will be interested to learn the terms of our new relationship with the market of the EU, a position which should become clearer as the year goes on. If you are in a public service, you will follow the forecasts of how our economy will fare in the next few years to see how resources are likely to be available to support your work.
I suspect many ups and downs in this process. Whether or not the extent of change and reordering was anticipated during the Referendum, it will become steadily clearer. It will require the closest co-operation between all sectors of the country; this is the new territory of a complex national endeavour.
More locally, Bedfordshire will continue to move forward. The recent announcement that major services will remain on site in Bedford Hospital as well as at Luton & Dunstable was welcome, but not a surprising outcome to any sensible review of NHS resources – despite the doom predictors. The merged hospitals can plan better for our expanding population. Train services will face some changes as has been announced, as a result of massive investment in track for the future with temporary knock on effects here; it is impossible to make significant changes in our crowded rail system without some impact on current services. I will be keen to ensure minimum disruption, but I won’t apologise for the new investment.
Planning new housing for the future will also be key, and the subject of much discussion. I will be working with our local councils, which have the responsibility here, and constituents to find the best options for future growth in their local plans. Balancing our rural location with urban and working pattern needs will not be a simple task either.
It will be a busy year!