Elizabeth Dennis-Harburg, who became leader of North Herts Council in May, has a message for residents this Christmas.

It’s hard to reflect on this year without acknowledging COVID is still with us, and is something we must take seriously.

Only this month we suddenly lost Cllr Paul Clark, deputy leader of the council and leader of the Liberal Democrats to this indiscriminate virus.

As a local councillor for over 20 years, Paul was passionate and dedicated to championing Hitchin and the local groups and organisations which he believed make it so special. I very much share his ambition for the council to put its residents first, and for us all to work and succeed together.

Our new Council Plan makes it clear that people are at the heart of everything we do, and fighting climate change will continue to be our focus, so that we can all enjoy a cleaner, greener, brighter future as we look to become carbon neutral as a council by 2030 and as a district by 2040.

We’ve switched to renewable electricity and green gas in our buildings, and recently installed solar panels on the main council building in Letchworth, reducing our emissions as well as saving money on bills.

We’ve handed out thousands of saplings to people across North Herts as part of our 10,000 tree giveaway. We’ll continue to work on a variety of other green projects next year, including providing additional electric vehicle charging points in our car parks, ensuring new developments are designed to encourage walking and cycling, and planting more wildflower areas to increase local biodiversity.

It’s been another challenging year, but we’ve overcome a lot of hurdles and continued to deliver new and innovative projects for you. And we’ll be continuing this work in 2022.

Many of our staff, and even some councillors, will be taking a well-earned break over the festive period, so please keep up to date with us by signing up to our service disruption text and/or email alerts.

All that’s left for me to say is please keep yourselves and your loved ones safe, and have a very merry Christmas and happy and healthy New Year.