At this time of year we all look towards the New Year.
Resolutions are made (and sometimes kept!) and the simple prospect of the change of year creates a sense of opportunity. This year more so than for some time.
As a country we are better placed than we have been for years. Fewer people are out of work and more people are in work than ever before.
Our factories including those manufacturing locally have woken up from the recession and Britain will have the fastest growing economy in the West in 2014. But these things don’t just happen.
A few short years ago our economy was the equivalent of a car crash. Since then it has been hard. Pay cuts and pay freezes, changes to pension arrangements and retirement ages and changes to benefits have all had their impact.
For some unemployment remains a spectre and for many there is still an awareness of recovery but not yet a feeling of personal benefit.
As we move into 2014 we will all feel the benefits of economic recovery but it will be steady and, for the country, affordable. As a nation we must not through away the long-term benefits of a sustainable recovery and real, rather than artificial growth.
There is no point in going through the pain to throw away the gain at the first sight of solid recovery.
During 2014 more people will find jobs, more people will become exempt from income tax and so keep more of what they earn and fewer people will live their lives on benefits. As a country and as a county we will make more and sell more.
It will also be a crucial year for the UK. As a nation we will learn if Scotland wishes to remain part of the Union, we will get a clearer picture of where the EU is going after the Euro zone crisis and ahead of our referendum on whether to remain in or to leave in 2017 - subject of course to who wins the next General Election.
And all through 2014 the people who caused the ‘car crash’ will be trying to persuade you to give them back the keys!
With my very best wishes for the New Year, Simon