As 2007 dawns we ask a handful of notable members of the North-East business community to express their hopes for the new year.
Keith Hann, Northumberland-based financial PRJan: Parliament resolves to pass no new laws and focus on repealing bad ones. Feb: Greggs sausage rolls proved to prolong active life by up to a decade.Mar: Prince William announces surprise engagement to veiled Arabian princess, who turns out to be a Romanian slaughterman looking for work in the UK. Prince Harry blamed.Apr: Scientists demonstrate conclusively that wind farms actually cause global warming. And hurricanes.May: Tony Blair resigns then changes his mind; Gordon Brown taken into care.Jun: Tony Blair resigns again; succeeded by Austin Mitchell.Jul: Patricia Hewitt is caught on camera having a crafty fag in the back bar of the Dog & Methodist off Whitehall, on Day One of the smoking ban.Aug: Coldest and wettest summer since records began leads to scientific conference on how to combat the new Ice Age.Sep: Referendum votes for Britains withdrawal from EU by overwhelming majority.Oct: Water companies beg consumers to use their hosepipes, to relieve pressure on overflowing reservoirs.Nov: Euro collapses; France and Germany adopt the pound and agree to phase in Imperial measures. Dec: Goldman Sachs announces zero bonus pool and launches public appeal for hampers to save Christmas for indigent partners.
Nicholas Craig, partner at Watson Burton law firm. As always my thoughts turn to fitness when making resolutions. Goodness knows why. I did, however, strongly support Newcastles Year of Exercise and Sport (YES) in 2006, at times almost actively. YES made many people feel much better by getting them all to be more active. That in turn helps to encourage a healthier workforce, which is irrefutably good for us, our places of work and the region as a whole. So with the excellent weather we can expect in 2007 there is little excuse for us all to sit in our armchairs and watch TV. Instead we can all resolve to be a bit fitter by this time next year. I may have just invented an achievable resolution.
Mary Coyle, incoming chief executive of the Aspire Campaign. With such a promising year behind us, we are passionate about dedicating 2007 as the year of the young person in everyones consciousness, and motivating every single business into stepping up a gear in their support of the key aims of Aspire - to inspire our young people to stay, learn, train and work in North East England.I look forward greatly to meeting businesses across the whole region and explaining our clear and simple aims at Aspire - we will be taking our campaign to the business audience and asking them to make a pledge to make contact with the education system this year.Every one of us needs to take responsibility for showcasing what a bright future this region has to offer our young people. Aspire will drive this agenda forward to ensure that the future career choices young people make reflect the reality of the employment market and the widening skills gaps within the region. Our core objective is to get employers engaged and addressing this issue and to get them to share their best practice with each other, whether its their recruitment and training practices or stories about successful apprenticeship programmes. If we open the channels of communication between businesses and young people and do it effectively I think 2007 can be a year remembered for genuinely shaping the regional workforce of the future.
Paul Callaghan, chairman of Leighton Group, the Sunderland-based technology and communications company, and chairman Business Link North-EastSo what of the coming year? We have already made our New Year resolutions in Leighton and they are simple. Employ the cleverest people and in so doing keep our graduates in the region, produce the best products so that we can compete with anybody in the world and have the smartest management team in town to keep everything on track. My predictions for the region for 2007 are also extremely positive. In April we will launch the new Business Link North East service with an exceptional board of directors, a chief executive with vision and passion and a staff team that is confident that it can deliver an outstanding level of business support to the north east. The Regional Economic Strategy will be seen as the blueprint for regional prosperity and success over the next decade. North-East entrepreneurs will continue to be inspired and excited by some extraordinary events run by Carole Beverley and the Entrepreneurs Forum team. Our universities will thrive as they help push this region towards the goal of a knowledge economy. Major initiatives like Science City in Newcastle, Digital City in Middlesbrough and Sunderland Software City will stake our claim to be at the forefront of technology and science- and in May, Roy Keane will lead Sunderland back to the Premiership -thats optimism for you! Finally I hope that 2007 will be a peaceful and prosperous year for all of us so have a good holiday as the next 12 months look likely to keep us really busy!
Jamie Martin, CBI regional chairman, managing partner at Newcastle law firm Ward Hadaway and chairman of Newcastle College.Looking ahead, some major challenges await in 2007, not least that of improving the regions transport links, both within the North-East and with the rest of the UK and Europe. If we are to pay to use our roads, we must see an equivalent investment in updating an infrastructure that is close to breaking point in some areas.Tremendous work has been done on addressing the regions skills gap, but more hard yards lie ahead as we look to equip the North-East even better for the challenges posed by globalisation.I hope that the work of ANEC (the Association of North-East Councils) will continue to help co-ordinate local authority efforts in terms of economic planning and infrastructure development - we will get our message heard that much louder if we can all speak with one voice.Another encouraging development for 2007 is the Governments plan to ..TEXT: free up the planning system, a topic which Tony Blair chose for his keynote speech at the CBI North-East dinner. Changes to what has become an overly bureaucratic system that tends to stifle economic activity are to be warmly welcomed - hopefully these alterations will help to usher in an exciting new phase of development in the region.Finally, on a personal note, it would be fantastic to see Sunderland promoted back to the Premiership. Well, the New Year is traditionally a time of optimism, isnt it?