2013 has been a year of achievement - but there is much more to look forward to in South Tyneside in 2014, says Councillor Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council, at the dawn of a new year.
"From record summer festival attendances to the excitement of the Duke of Cambridge's visit, 2013 has been another memorable year for South Tyneside. Local talents like Josef Craig, Nicole Lough, Joe McElderry and Little Mix continue to put South Tyneside on the map, and I am delighted that we have made major strides forward with the borough's regeneration."
"The Council is firmly committed to creating new jobs and driving forward renewal, in spite of a tough financial climate, and the past year has seen real progress right across the borough.
"The superb Haven Point leisure complex is the latest in a series of milestones highlighting the success of regeneration, opening within weeks of another new Tyneside landmark at Harton Quays Park. Cross the road from Haven Point and you can see a new £5m promenade and sea defences nearing completion.
"With Jarrow's new pool and a £200m school buildings programme also completed this year, it is clear that the borough's renewal is gathering pace. The financial climate continues to be tough, with the Council having to find a further £48million in savings, but no one should doubt our determination to continue investing in a better future.
"That means continuing to create apprenticeships for our young people, and investing to create new jobs in growing industries. Our partnership with Sunderland's City Deal initiative can bring thousands of new jobs in advanced manufacturing, while our hugely popular events programme is a significant boost for a tourism industry that is worth over £200m a year to the local economy.
"As we enjoy our Christmas celebrations, there is much to look forward to. The year began with the demolition of Wouldhave House, the first stage in the £100m regeneration of South Shields town centre. It ends with a legal agreement in place with a nationally renowned developer, Muse, to take South Shields 365 forward, and with work set to start on a new landmark building for the market place in the year ahead.
"Construction is already underway on Hebburn's new community hub, and it will be exciting to see the project taking shape over the months ahead. The £12.8m scheme will bring together a superb range of services like a swimming pool, library, learning centre and dance studio, as well as giving Hebburn town centre a real boost.
"The new Trinity South neighbourhood is also making rapid progress, just a stone's throw from award-winning eco-friendly developments at One Trinity Green and Sinclair Meadows. New homes are taking shape in Simonside, Hebburn and Boldon Colliery, and empty homes are being brought back into use in Jarrow. At the same time a new not-for-profit housing trust is gearing up to build hundreds of new homes locally.
"As a Council we still face unprecedented reductions in our funding, but we are doing everything we can to minimise their impact and find new ways to deliver the quality services we all want to see. We are determined to continue investing in the local economy and building a better future for South Tyneside in 2014."