As we embark upon the New Year, may I start by wishing all readers and residents of York a very healthy, happy and successful 2012.

The start of January is one of my favourite times of year. As we polish off the leftover Christmas nibbles and begin (to the despair of our children) to take down the festive decorations, one is able to reflect upon the year that has passed and look forward to the opportunities ahead.

Obviously, we cannot escape that 2011 was another really tough economic year for our city, region and country. Families continue to feel enormous pressure and if truth be told, much of the Western world continues to suffer from the relentless sovereign debt crisis. Our own economy is being chilled by the eurozone crisis and 2012 will be an even bigger year for the single currency. It is absolutely crucial that confidence returns to markets in both northern and southern Europe throughout the upcoming year.

At home, it is the job of the Government to pursue the deficit reduction programme with all due haste while maintaining low interest rates and bringing inflation down.

Total UK debt, including household sector debt, business sector debt, financial sector debt and Government debt, represents over 500 per cent of our GDP – the size of the task remains daunting.

While it is important to recognise the scale of the economic challenges, it is also important not to talk down the strength of our industries or our workforce. Since 2008, the financial crisis has illustrated once again the long-renowned spirit and dogged determination of the British.

This year above all others offers us a chance to celebrate our British values and traditions on the truly global stage provided by the Olympic Games. These Games are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host the most popular sporting event in the world. It is also an opportunity for Britain to show the world that we remain a key trading country, as well as a perfect location for businesses.

Creating an increasingly entrepreneurial, resilient and competitive workforce must be a key component of the Government’s growth plans in 2012.

Here in York, we have a northern city which can act as an example to the rest of the country. Our great city has been recognised as being the most resilient northern economy; one of the most skilled cities; and, as all lifelong residents have always known, Britain’s most beautiful city.

The work must go on, however, and in 2012 I shall be continuing to work with local residents and businesses to fulfil my three pre-election pledges: – to protect our Green Belt land; to improve transport infrastructure; and to ensure local health services are patient-focused.

It remains an absolute honour to be one of York’s MPs, and regardless of political allegiances, I shall always champion our local communities. Indeed, I am confident that our great city can rise to the challenges of 2012, and that our country can follow suit and do likewise.

Once again, I would like to wish all readers a very happy New Year.