County Council leader Ian Hudspeth

Once again we are at the time in the calendar when we look back over the previous 12 months and anticipate what is in store in the year ahead.

As we enter 2016, Oxfordshire’s economy is doing very well. Our county is thriving and our ambition is to see that continue.

We have very high levels of employment, often in cutting-edge industries. I am sure we all hope and trust that will continue.

The picture in the public sector is not quite so positive. As the government seeks to tackle a national debt that runs to more than £1trillion, there are cuts in most areas, including in local government.

At Oxfordshire County Council we certainly face a tough year ahead. As the Oxford Mail has reported we are having to make millions of pounds of extra savings on top of the £290m we have already been saving from 2010 to 2018.

Despite these difficulties, staff at the county council continue to work hard for the people of the county in our key areas of delivery – social care for adults and children, highways, libraries, fire and rescue, trading standards, education, waste disposal and many others.

We may have had a relatively mild winter so far but I am sure you will see our gritters out and about in the county before the end of February.

Any exercise in looking to the future in Oxfordshire would not be complete without use of the word “infrastructure”.

All of us at the county council are acutely aware that our roads are very busy and people are frustrated with traffic queues.

We want to create extra capacity – hence the recently completed work at Frideswide Square and the ongoing work at places like Milton Interchange, Wolvercote and Cutteslowe.

We all wish it were possible to get such major schemes completed within a week of them starting but nobody in the world has yet invented the means to do that.

We do appreciate people’s patience – and we know that, in turn, people appreciate the final outcomes.

For instance, through 2015 we’ve felt the benefits of the work on the southern bypass at Kennington following the completion of work to create a hamburger roundabout in late 2014.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish the people of Oxfordshire a healthy and prosperous 2016.

We live in a great part of the world.

Let us hope we see our county continue to go from strength to strength in the new year.