At the start of 2022, we were still in the grip of the pandemic and Covid-19 was very much part of our lives. Significant restrictions were still in place and our services were operating differently. People felt uncertain about the future.
For the first time in three long years, families will be able to gather together for a normal Christmas again and catch-up with friends and relatives over the festive period, something I’m sure everyone will cherish.
It’s been a busy but successful year for Stirling Council and its communities. Together, we emerged from the pandemic with purpose, packing in a wide range of achievements and milestones.
I was proud of our UK City of Culture 2025 bid and, although ultimately unsuccessful, it shone a light on the passion for creativity and innovation that flows through our communities and reaffirmed our commitment to investing in culture to power inclusion, economic growth and regeneration.
We had the welcome return of major live events to Stirling, starting with the Big Top – Under Canvas festival at Stirling City Park as thousands of fans enjoyed performances from the likes of Texas.
This was followed by the biggest ever Bloody Scotland International Crime Writing Festival and the Scottish Album of the Year Award, held for the first time in Stirling’s historic Albert Halls.
Stirling’s reputation for digital innovation was also enhanced, with the launch of the Stirling XP app, making the city the first Augmented Reality city in the world, setting the standard for next generation tourism.
Elsewhere, there was further progress on the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal projects. This included work starting on the Walk Cycle Live scheme that will transform how people navigate our beautiful city and will also help us in our ongoing efforts to reach Net Zero and build sustainable communities.
We were also part of history as we commemorated the passing of our longest-serving Monarch and marked the accession of a new King.
We were reminded of the fantastic community spirit across Stirling by the kindness and generosity shown towards the people of Ukraine who have arrived in the area under the various resettlement schemes.
This was another situation where our staff, with the support of communities, reacted quickly to deliver high-quality support and care to those in need. Our dedicated staff have also been supporting residents during the cost of living crisis. I know some people are struggling just now and we will continue to do all we can to help those most in need.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff and partners for all your hard work over the past year. It’s you who give our young people the best possible start in life; keep Stirling moving in extreme weather; care and support the most vulnerable in society; and collect and recycle our waste – to name but a few.
As 2022 draws to a close, I know there will be difficult decisions ahead due to the financial pressures on local authorities, but by working together with our communities, I know we will overcome these challenges and ensure Stirling continues to thrive in 2023.
Finally, I’d like to wish everyone across Stirling a Merry Christmas and a good New Year.