I would like to take this opportunity to deliver my Christmas message to this wonderful city.
I always welcome visitors and audiences by stating that we are blessed to live in a beautiful place like Worcester – one of the best in terms of quality of life; one of the safest cities in the UK; one of the happiest and definitely one of the most polite.
We have had a brilliant year with so much going on: the OVO Women’s Tour, the fantastic Worcester Festival, The Worcester Stands Tall giraffes, the awarding of the posthumous Freedom of the City to Basil D’Oliviera and the brilliant Worcestershire Rapids victory in the T20 Vitality Blast trophy!
We also mustn’t forget the enchanting Victorian Xmas Fayre – nor the thousands lining the street for Remembrance Day, commemorating the fallen men, women, children and animals from across the world who have died in wars.
The summer saw hundreds march in harmony through the streets, under my banner of Love not Hate. They stood up to all those that seek to divide us: a moment to savour and cherish.
Economically, Worcester has punched above its weight this year. Footfall to the city centre has increased over 2017, and growth in the independent retail sector has been particularly pleasing.
Despite our strong performance as a city, we still have our underlying issues. Air quality, congestion, rough sleeping, homelessness and the need to create more opportunities for our young are all key areas which we must challenge ourselves to improve in, if we are to redress the imbalances that exist in our society.
So as we race into seasonal festivities, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the residents of Worcester a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Please stay safe, think about your neighbours and those who will not be able to enjoy the holiday period in the same way as you and I. I urge you to spread my message of love not hate, so that we can continue to lead the way as a brilliant faithful city which is admired across the UK and the world.