With the advent of the new variant we start 2022 with yet another mountain to climb from covid, after all the peaks and troughs we’ve already traversed together through the last 12 months.
We’ve shown resilience through 2021 by getting on with life as best we can.
We took personal precautions and the vaccine when offered, so that some sense of normal life could resume. In fact during 2021 North Kesteven regularly came in the top 10 for England on first and second dose uptake and held the top spot in specific age ranges, which is tribute to those efforts.
Thanks to you, 2021 has also been a momentous year in other ways, including for our environment.
While nations met for COP26 negotiations in autumn, households were already taking action on cutting carbon, saving trees and reducing waste by putting the right things in bins. More is being recycled from green-lidded bins because what’s inside them is so improved thanks to residents, and well over 1,000 tonnes of perfect quality paper and cardboard went to our papermill from across the first three combined collections of purple and purple-lidded bins in place district-wide from September.
As a council we started work in March on eight new homes in Potterhanworth built to the very highest Passivhaus eco standards. We’ve committed to build all new council homes to net carbon zero and Passivhaus standard.
There’s been progress too on our £56 million Sleaford Moor Enterprise Park, aimed at building North Kesteven’s reputation as a place to live, work and invest but also at showing how developments can be shaped for the environment with self-watering planting areas, electric vehicle charging points, solar panels and more as planned features.
Acts of kindness have continued across the district, and we celebrated this through our NK Community Champion 2021 awards in November. Held in-person at Doddington Hall’s Long Gallery, the evening saw 110-people come together in a covid-conscious way to champion the contributions made by 36 finalists across 12 categories, from almost 100 community-based nominations. Finalists included an eight-year-old girl delivering lockdown cheer, an octogenarian turning in hard labour every day to keep a bowls club running, those initiating donations drives for Afghan refugees, and ambassadors of mental, physical and environmental welfare.
Our £1.2 million reimagining of the Hub in Sleaford showed our commitment to culture and the arts, and we made use of the Government’s Welcome Back Fund to help promote an eventful Sleaford with events, shopping, food and more to enjoy.
On the economy we also marked the creation of our new £2.2 million business park at Discovery Court in North Hykeham and delivered a range of business grants, and we continue to offer support to local businesses.
All that has taken place alongside service delivery. While the New Year starts in the midst of a challenging pandemic, all these positives through 2021 mean there is much reason to feel hopeful.
This year is our opportunity to bring climate action to life and to imagine a net zero future.
It feels hopeful too because of the many who’ve been able to get their Covid booster. If you’ve not had yours, or indeed your first or second dose, there’s still time and it’s still vital you do. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and many happy returns for the New Year.