2 January 2009
AT THE END of every year, you always hear people saying ‘Where has the year gone? They seem to go by faster and faster’. And yet, once you start to think back about the events of the whole year, you realise just how much has taken place.
Looking back at this column at the start of 2008, we made a number of predictions, as well as voicing some hopes for the coming year. We suggested that 2008 would be the year that the council’s work on housing started to be seen and that, should benefits not be felt by the summer, serious questions should be asked. A year on, the council insists improvements are being made, yet a recent audit of the local authority singled out the housing department as the thorn in Southwark’s side. Granted, the scale of the task is formidable, but 2009 must continue to see huge efforts being made to improve the standard of our borough’s housing.
A year ago, we also called on ruling politicians to find a way to balance the borough’s books, without hitting residents with too hefty a rise in council tax. Who would have known a year ago that the economy would have faced the upheavals of the past few months? And of course the recession will impact on all of us. This week we report on early budgetary proposals, which no doubt will see further cutbacks and funding slashed. Sadly, if there is a limited pot, such measures are inevitable. But opposition politicians need to be at their best, to ensure proper scrutiny of the decision makers and to question how our taxes are spent.
Crime never goes away, yet 2008 saw an epidemic of stabbings, with a boy as young as fourteen murdered on our streets. Our police continue to work their hardest, but stopping children from knifing each other at the drop of a hat will take years of work from every part of our community.
In the sporting arena, we suggested that David Haye might make further inroads in his quest to become a boxing superstar - which he is now well on his way to doing, with a fight looming in the new year against one of the Klitschko brothers. We also suggested that, under manager Kenny Jackett, Millwall had the first decent chance in some time of putting disappointments behind them and starting to mount a serious promotion challenge. And, despite a somewhat underwhelming Christmas period, there are few who could argue with the fact that the Lions are in a better position than they have been for years - not just because they lie third in the table, but because Jackett has restored pride and belief to the team. What’s more, owner John Berylson has proved himself, in our opinion, an honest, decent custodian of Millwall FC.
May we take this opportunity to thank all our loyal readers, who buy this paper week in, week out. We are proud to be London’s only independent, paid for newspaper and proud to serve the people of Southwark.
We wish you all a peaceful and prosperous 2009.
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