I’m positive about the future. But as we all take stock at the start of a new year, even if the only certainty is uncertainty, there is plenty to give us hope and reassurance in what seems like an era of turbulence.
Employment continues to rise and unemployment to fall. Retail sales are up and tourism is buoyant. Companies are still investing in the UK. Here in Edinburgh a Chinese firm backed search engine pioneer Skyscanner, based in Quartermile, buying the whole outfit for £1.4bn.
While terrorism remains in the global headlines, Edinburgh happily enjoyed another season of celebrations (thank you, security services). Disgraceful attempts to talk up a mythical growth in hate crimes in Edinburgh have been shown by the figures to be, well, disgraceful.
Even the many high-profile deaths of celebrities can probably be put down to lifestyle or the baby boom generation reaching the inevitable. If, as the wise saying goes, nothing in life is certain save death and taxes, we should celebrate that life expectancy has increased an astonishing five years globally between 2000 -2015. In Africa the increase was a whopping 9.4 years.
And as far as taxes are concerned, while Conservatives always want to see them reduced, Edinburgh’s Labour/SNP administration looks set to increase council tax by three per cent.
But despite the wail of financial gloom in the City Chambers there is actually good news because there is so much waste in the way many core services are delivered that there are savings to be made which needn’t reduce the quality of service, or even the number of employees.
Our city has so much going for it, yet after four wasted years of an administration which has run out of steam there is much to do. Edinburgh needs more effort to minimise congestion, especially on the City Bypass. We need more housing to reduce the pressure, especially on our young people, to move and commute from afar.
Increasing life-expectancy brings opportunities not available to our parents and a quality of life unmatched by previous generations, but it also comes with challenges for our care services
But perhaps the two biggest stains on Edinburgh’s reputation are the state of our streets and the unreliable refuse collections from our homes. Despite years of tinkering, nothing seems to change.
But there is a chance for change in May at the local council elections. These issues can be sorted, but not overnight. As leader of the Conservative Group on the council I relish the opportunity to reverse the effects of an exhausted and fractious Labour-SNP administration which is looking for excuses.
May brings an opportunity for local people to have their say. I believe a Conservative-led council could sort our roads and pavements and waste problems and bring competence to the delivery of services.
I’m celebrating that with Ruth Davidson we now have a Conservative MSP for an Edinburgh constituency plus three more in the Lothians and Holyrood is benefiting from a strong opposition.
But whatever our view on the recent elections or referendum, democracy and especially the peaceful transfer of power is another reason to be thankful.
So let’s have enough of the angst and hand-wringing which comes from fearing the worst possible outcome of everything, which believes little can be done to make a difference.
In the tradition of the New Year, and after a year in which democracy gave people the chance to take back control, it’s out with the old and in with the new.
This year is a time for change.