First of all, may I take this opportunity in my last News Post Leader column of 2016 to wish all of your readers, and in particular my Wansbeck constituency residents, a happy, healthy and successful New Year.
As we approach the last few days of the year the overriding thought is that 2017 is going to be a year of great change.
Nationally, the agenda is surely going to be dominated by Brexit and the triggering of Article 50 at the end of March, preparing for the UK to leave the European Union.
This will be by no means an easy negotiating situation, but the government and parliament has to secure the best possible deal for Britain post-Brexit.
In the wider world all eyes will be on the presidency of Donald Trump in America, while closer to home there will be elections in France and Germany.
All three could have a major impact on the world order at a time when we face such serious security challenges from the spread of terrorism, as evidenced by the terrible event in Berlin in the last few days before Christmas.
Here in our own part of the world, we can also look forward to significant changes in the four main towns of our constituency – Ashington, Bedlington, Newbiggin and Morpeth.
Ashington has just seen the re-opening of Station Road to limited traffic in the shopping centre of the town and the early indications seem to be that there has been a welcome increase in footfall, which has to be good news for traders.
Bedlington has also been promised investment of some £10m in its town centre, and progress should be made on improving the centre of Newbiggin as well.
Together these changes should revitalise our town centres, which for so long have been the life-blood of our communities.
So one of my wishes for 2017 is that local people embrace these changes and make the most of what is being planned for them on our own doorsteps in the new year.