WITH the festivities over, it’s now time to focus on the year ahead, and there is much to look forward to in County Durham in 2020.

We now have a new vision for our area and this will shape not just what we do during the next 12 months, but over the coming 15 years too.

Created by the County Durham Partnership, the vision provides a shared outlook for the county and follows extensive public consultation.

Our aims are to create more and better jobs, enable people to live long and better lives and ensure communities are well connected and supportive of each other.

Our priorities for the coming year will support this vision. We will continue to focus on bringing investment into our county, raising awareness of the many benefits the area offers potential investors.

This work to safeguard and boost our economy, is supported by our cultural programme, which not only provides entertainment and enrichment for residents but also draws in visitors from outside the county and raises the national and international profile of the area.

This year’s programme will include the return of established events, including BRASS, Durham Book Festival and Bishop Auckland Food Festival as well as newer additions such as Seaham Food Festival and Durham Adventure Festival. 2020 is also our Year of Pilgrimage. A programme of events and activities will centre around the launch of new walking trails which tell the fascinating stories of the Northern Saints. Durham Cathedral will be at the centre of the trails, recognising its role as a destination for pilgrims.

Last year, we declared a climate emergency and, although we have already carried out a significant amount of work to reduce emissions, we now need to focus our attentions on this key priority.

We have already said that we are committed to a 60 per reduction in emissions by 2030 and, this year, we will be looking at what we can do to make County Durham carbon neutral by 2050.

By listening to our communities and working together we believe we can meet these targets and fulfil our other ambitious plans to make County Durham a greener and more prosperous place in 2020 and beyond.

Simon Henig is leader of Durham County Council