As this year’s festive period approaches, Stirling Council’s leaders have offered their heartfelt thanks to communities across the area.

2021 has seen its share of challenges after another 12 months of COVID-19 impacting every element of daily life, but with 2022 on the horizon, the Council Leaders believe Stirling has cause to be positive and optimistic heading into the holidays.

Council Leader Scott Farmer said: “I know many of us are weary from the continued disruption that’s been caused by Covid and its ongoing impact on our lives. However, we have come on in leaps and bounds compared to where we were at this point last year, which I believe is a cause for hope.

“With that in mind, I’d like to take this chance to offer my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for your co-operation with public health guidelines to keep our communities safe over the last year. Please continue to exercise caution to minimise the spread of the virus and get your booster vaccine as soon as you can.

'Another Year Like Nothing We've Seen Before'

“2021 has been another year like nothing we’ve seen before, but as we head into 2022, we do so with optimism and anticipation, particularly over our UK City of Culture 2025 bid.

“Stirling was selected as the only Scottish entry to be longlisted for the title and this presents a fantastic opportunity to put Stirling on the map as a major hub of creativity, and reap the wider economic benefits which come from this.

“Elsewhere, with the National Wallace Monument restarted business under the control of Stirling Council and we made good on our promise to give free access to Stirling residents when it was able to reopen. We’ve also underlined our commitment to make Stirling a Dementia Friendly City with £102,000 worth of funding towards infrastructure improvements.

“And while our primary focus is still rightly targeted on navigating our way out of the pandemic, the long term impact of climate change and how we tackle it remains a priority for Stirling Council. We’ve published our Climate and Nature Emergency Plan, and set out ambitious targets to meet by 2030 and have already been recognised as the best performing local authority in mainland Scotland in the rollout of carbon-cutting small-scale renewables.

 “None of what we’ve done within the last 12 months could have been possible without the committed efforts of our hardworking staff, who ensure that our services are delivered to residents who rely upon them, especially in the circumstances of the pandemic. I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere gratitude to all members of Stirling Council staff for everything they’ve done and continue to do.

“As 2022 beckons, I wish everyone across Stirling a Merry Christmas and a more normal new year.”

'We will recover stronger than ever'

Depute Leader of Stirling Council, Chris Kane also gave his thoughts and reflections on the year just gone by:

“It goes without saying that we all hoped to have been looking at a more normal festive period following another challenging year in the shadow of this global pandemic, so I’d like to commend everyone for the resilience they have shown while enduring the various changes to daily life that have occurred over the last 12 months.

“In this season of goodwill, it bears repeating that we are in a much better place in our ongoing fightback against the virus and I remain hopeful that we will recover stronger than ever as we head into the new year. In the meantime, please continue to take all the necessary precautions to keep yourself, your loved ones and your community safe.

“Despite the widespread disruption, Stirling Council has continued to provide essential services for the communities who rely on them, but our work goes well beyond that crucial front line deployment, and this year we became one of the first local authorities to sign up to the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration in a statement of intent to tackle climate change via integrated food policies and calling on national governments to act. Stirling Council is already committed to creating a sustainable food economy and in the wake of COP26 it’s vital that we add our voice to this global movement.

“The landmark Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal has continued to bear fruit this year as plans for a Scottish International Environment Centre have been approved. This £52m project will support our drive in creating a zero-carbon regional economy and place us at the heart of a new green economy.

“In the wake of the humanitarian crisis which has been unfolding in Afghanistan, we also reaffirmed our commitment to take part in resettlement schemes for those fleeing conflict. We remain resolute in our offer of solidarity, compassion and humanity to those who are looking to escape the most horrific of circumstances.

“Looking ahead, 2022 will mark 20 years since Stirling was awarded city status and our cultural programme aims to reflect the highlights of the last two decades while looking to the future to envision how much more Stirling can achieve, starting with our ambitions to be selected as UK City of Culture 2025.

“I thank all Stirling Council staff for their efforts throughout the last year in helping us to realise these achievements and for their work which is vital to our communities, none moreso than the emergency response during Storm Arwen where council staff cleared roads and volunteered at emergency shelters for those who had been cut off from power supplies.

“I wish everybody in the community a happy, safe and restful Christmas, and a more optimistic New Year.”