Today we publish New Year messages from Gwent politicians – and Wales’ first minister. DAVID DEANS reports.

South Wales Argus: 'HUGE HONOUR': Cllr John Guy

John Guy, mayor of Newport

“ONE of my favourite times of the year is here again and it gives me chance to reflect on my first seven months as mayor of Newport.

“I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of everyone I have met. Our city has an abundance of kind-hearted people who give up their time and volunteer to help run clubs and organisations. Their contribution is invaluable and the support they provide is very important and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them.

“I would also like to thank the young people of Newport for their enthusiasm and hard work, which deserves a special mention. They don’t always get the praise that they deserve, but our young people are very special. I have seen some very memorable musical and dance performances over the past few months and we have very talented youngsters.

“Finally, on behalf of the mayoress and I, we would like to wish you and your families the compliments of the season and a peaceful New Year.”

South Wales Argus: DELIGHTED: Cllr Bob Bright

Bob Bright, Newport council leader

“I WOULD like to thank the people of Newport for voting for the return of the Labour administration.

You have given us a clear vote of support and confidence, and we will work hard to deliver the commitments we have made.

“Highlights in this first year of office have included our velodrome hosting Olympic and Paralympic training camps and part of the legacy this has left is an increase in visitors to the facility. The Friars Walk retail and leisure development continues to progress.

“As a council, we have to make brave decisions as we look to balance the budget. Some of the decisions we make not everyone is going to like and while we would not want to make these difficult decisions, they need to be made. Like many other councils, we need to make savings and for the next financial year we need to save £8.4million.

While we have to make significant savings, we will maintain key services to the public, continue to improve how services are delivered and fund key priorities.

“2013 will be another interesting year for Newport, as the new National Football Development Centre, located at Newport International Sports Village, will be opened.

Work on refurbishing Newport Market is due to be completed and this will give the historic building a new lease of life, as well as creating smart new units for use as shops and restaurants.”

South Wales Argus: PLEA: First Minister Carwyn Jones

Carwyn Jones, first minister of Wales

“AS WE SAY goodbye to 2012, let us look forward with optimism to 2013.

No one is denying Wales, like the rest of the world, will continue to face some very real economic challenges.

This will require all of us to work together, to unite as a country to face these tough times. I believe that despite the current climate, we can come through these times stronger as a nation.

“New Year is a time to put aside differences, a time for us to focus on family and friends and a time to look to the future. I wish all of you a happy New Year!”

South Wales Argus: CALLING FOR BAN: AM Lindsay Whittle, who is campaigning to outlaw smacking children

Lindsay Whittle, AM for South Wales East

“FOR many families and individuals in Gwent, 2012 has been a very difficult economically, with increased food and heating bills and squeezed incomes.

Many have suffered hardship, with food banks in greater demand and more benefit cuts on the horizon.

“My hope is that 2013 will be the year of opportunity, when we turn the corner, with incomes rising and jobs created locally and more young people given the opportunity to take a step on the career ladder through apprenticeships.”

South Wales Argus: SUPPORTER: William Graham

William Graham, AM for South Wales East

“FOR some people, the New Year provides an opportunity for a new beginning, with resolutions to adopt a healthier lifestyle or strive to attain personal goals. For others, there will be nothing new. Their life limiting condition, or search for a job or a home, will continue.

“Although hardships will not disappear with the changing of the year, I believe that 2013 will be the year when the signs of better times will appear.

“I hope that all of your resolutions are sustained and that you achieve those personal goals you seek to attain; I wish you and your families every success in 2013.”

South Wales Argus: CRITICISED: Alun Davies AM

Alun Davies, AM for Blaenau Gwent

“A NEW Year is about to begin and despite the economic downturn of 2012, creating jobs and growth in Blaenau Gwent is at the heart of spending plans for 2013, to meet the economic and infrastructure needs of our communities.

Through these times of austerity, devolution has already enabled us to stand up for the interests of Wales at a UK and European level, and for those whose needs are greatest.

“Blwyddyn Newydd dda/happy New Year!”


South Wales Argus: John Griffiths

John Griffiths, AM for Newport East

“THE Olympics and Paralympics made 2012 a remarkable year for Wales and Britain, one we will not quickly forget. It gave us much to be proud of and celebrate.

“But it was also a time of continuing economic difficulty and uncertainty for many – locally as well as across the UK and overseas.

We must do all we can to make 2013 a better year, and to fight the scourge of poverty and unemployment that blights too many lives.

“I wish you all a healthy, peaceful and brighter New Year.”

South Wales Argus: Paul Murphy, Labour

Paul Murphy, Torfaen MP

“HAPPY New Year to all Argus readers.

I hope 2013 brings you all that you hope it will.

Things have not been easy this past year, so one thing I hope 2013 brings is an economic recovery that creates jobs for local people. I also hope it will be a key year in finding a lasting solution in places like Afghanistan that do not result in the deaths of our brave servicemen, too many of whom have perished in recent years.

“In Parliament, we’ll be facing up to the government’s benefit reform plans, which as they stand pose a real threat to thousands of the people I represent. There will doubtless be many other issues facing us as MPs in the coming year, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to air their views to contact me.”

South Wales Argus: Labour MP Paul Flynn said bone-crushing handshakes should be classed as assault

Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West

“OPTIMISM inspires us to have faith in a better New Year. Daily, we see scenes of gloom from all corners.

There is genuine consolation because we live in one of the most peaceful, fair and compassionate countries in the world.

“But it’s far from perfect.

Many of our people live in the shadows of poverty, loneliness and illness. The endless work for improvements from the caring services will continue in 2013. They have earned our gratitude.

They will be working unstintingly throughout the New Year holidays.

A very happy 2013 to everyone.”

South Wales Argus: ABOLISHED: Under the plans Jessica Morden MP’s Newport East constituency would be no more

Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East

“AS WE LOOK forward to 2013, I know that for many people in our communities, the future seems uncertain. Changes to welfare payments, a struggling economy and uncertainty around many people’s jobs are making times tough for both hard-working families and many of the most vulnerable.

“But in 2012, we also saw the great things that we can achieve when we pull together.

“Nowhere was this better illustrated than by our Olympic and Paralympic teams, many of whom overcame apparently insurmountable challenges to achieve truly great things.

“It is exactly this willingness to rise to the challenge and fight for what they believe in that will enable us to protect the public services we all rely on and build a better future for ourselves and our family in the year ahead.”

South Wales Argus: David Davies

David Davies, MP for Monmouth

“NEW Year messages traditionally speak of a new start and a new beginning – ‘ring out the old and ring in the new’.

“After a torrid year when people seem to have lost trust in previously cherished public institutions such as the BBC, the police, the national press and of course politicians, a new start will be more than welcome.

“I am acutely aware of the damage these kinds of revelations do to our society. Democracy works best when people believe public institutions can be relied upon to be honest, accurate and fair in their dealings. Once trust is lost, it’s very difficult to restore.

“My fervent wish is that 2013 is the year when the job of restoring public trust gets under way. It will not be easy and it will not be quick, but for all our sakes, it must be done.”

South Wales Argus: HOPE: Cllr Hedley McCarthy

Hedley McCarthy, leader of Blaenau Gwent council

“LAST May, Labour won a landslide victory here in Blaenau Gwent. That prize included an education service in Special Measures and an extremely disappointing Corporate Assessment. We are determined to put matters right and provide good services for our residents.

“We hope the powers that be continue to value local democracy as we go forward.

2013 will be challenging for all of us and difficult for our most vulnerable people. We must as a community work together and may I extend my best wishes to everyone for the forthcoming 12 months.”

South Wales Argus: Maureen Powell

Monmouthshire council chairwoman Maureen Powell

“2012 REMINDED us of just what we can do in this country. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the welcome of the Olympic Flame to Monmouthshire and the stunning Olympic and Paralympic Games were an inspiration to us all. The Olympics opening ceremony reminded us that we can take pride in our achievements and that for all the problems that we face, Britain remains a kindly, tolerant, dazzling and – at times – eccentric place. And we in Monmouthshire reflect that well as a county, proud of its status as the gateway to Wales and also as Wales’ gateway to the world.

“I remain confident that we’ll face the challenges and opportunities of the coming year in the way we did in 2012 – with determination, innovation, good humour and pride.

“I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.”