Hopes high for a year of rejuvenation

WHEN the clock struck midnight on January 1, many will have breathed a sigh of relief.

2010 wasn't a vintage year for a whole host of reasons - mainly due to the lingering effects of the recession and the impact the downturn had on our lives.

That's not to say, of course, that many of us will not look back on 2010 with fondness in the years to come.

Couples got married, cherished sons and daughters entered the world and memorable holidays and other moments were enjoyed.

For those who did experience difficult times during the past 12 months, however, the promise of a new year brings with it the hope of better times to come.

A new year may not be a magic wand that makes everything right, but at least it offers a chance to start afresh.

As individuals we should seize that chance, making the most of the opportunity to turn over a new page.

To some degree, however, our lives will always be dictated by what is happening around us.

And the outlook nationally is still uncertain as we attempt to claw our way out of economic instability.

This will be the first full year of a new coalition government and will reveal whether the drastic cost-cutting measures it has brought in will be successful in balancing Britain's books.

It will also tell us whether the coalition itself is a viable political partnership or an arrangement borne of expedience that has little long-term future.

In Leeds, fortunately, there are plenty of things to look forward to in the months ahead.

The return of cranes to a city that became so used to them in recent years indicates a renewed confidence that this is a place worth investing in.

The highly anticipated Trinity Leeds city centre development will take shape this year ahead of its scheduled opening in 2012.

It is hoped that the planned Eastgate Quarters scheme will also be revived before the year is out.

Already the largest centre for legal, financial and professional services outside London, 2011 looks set to be a good year for other emerging industries in Leeds, such as healthcare technology and the digital sector, bringing with them the prospect of job creation.

Leeds Bradford Airport will also start work building a new terminal, which is set to bring further international investment into the city.

Then there is the Leeds Arena, which will really begin to take shape as we move towards opening night in 2012.

Everywhere you look, it seems, there is evidence of revival and rebirth.

On the sporting field too there is expectation of success, with Leeds United harbouring hopes of a second consecutive promotion that would take the club back to the Premiership after a six-season absence.

Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire CCC will also look to build on recent success.

For royal watchers, one of the highlights of 2011 will be the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, which for many will be cause for celebration.

Let us hope that the year ahead is one to remember for all the right reasons.

EP 1/1/11