This is my final Argus column as leader of Newport City Council.

In 2019 when I took office, no one could have foreseen the challenges that lay ahead - a global pandemic followed by an energy and cost of living crisis.

During this time I have worked together with officers, partners and colleagues to keep people safe, maintain the delivery of essential services and protect our communities. In some of the darkest times that we have ever known it has been an honour to serve the people of Newport.

Our city is a growing city and there is a bright future ahead.

Last week at our city summit we heard about the planned investment in Newport – the expansion of KLA, the investment zone which will fuel the growth of the compound semi conductor here in Newport, ABP’s plans for investment and expansion at the port of Newport and so much more.

These major investors will need a pipeline of talent to fill the highly skilled jobs that they offer and we’re working closely with our excellent schools and colleges to deliver this.

We also heard from Tramshed Tech the opportunities and support that there are in Newport for entrepreneurs.

As I move on, work is under way on the development of a new placemaking plan for the city centre. Residents will be able to have their say on this, highlighting their priorities for the city going forward.

A new cultural strategy is being developed in partnership with stakeholders and we are working closely with Business in the Community, in the heart of our communities.

We’re delivering on our promises and the outlook is positive in spite of the challenges that we face across the public sector.

I will be handing over the baton to my successor, Councillor Dimitri Batrouni, confident in the knowledge that together we have established a firm foundation for the future. He has the knowledge, skills and commitment to continue to build on this and take it forward.

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the City of Newport.

I am truly humbled to have worked with so many wonderful volunteers, community groups and individuals who just want to come together and work together for the benefit of the people of Newport. From the bottom of my heart I thank you all for the outstanding work that you do every day. It has been a pleasure to work with you and learn from you.

I am forever grateful for the time that I have had as leader and I thank you all for the opportunity to serve the people of the place that I love.