CHRISTMAS is an enjoyable time for many of us as we get together with our families and friends to celebrate the festive season.

It is also a time when we look back over the past 12 months and look forward to the year ahead.

Of course 2012 will be memorable for the London Olympics and the Queen's diamond jubilee.

While these two huge events provided a feel good factor for the nation, our local communities also embraced the excitement with 26,000 turning out to watch the Olympic torch pass through our district and 11,000 turning out for the Stroud on Water Festival, over the jubilee bank holiday weekend, to see boats on the regenerated stretch of canal for the first time in decades.

The continued economic downturn has caused unemployment and financial difficulty for many but at the same time, it has been heartening to see how our local communities have been keen to help those worse off than themselves - the generous donations to the Stroud District Foodbank springing immediately to mind.

The past year also saw a new administration come together at Stroud District Council comprising Labour, Lib Dems and Greens.

Our aim, as a combined alliance, is to work together to do our best for the people of the district.

Looking forward to 2013 this will be extended further as all political parties will be working together under a new committee system to make the important decisions that affect us all.

Tackling unemployment issues and strengthening our local economy is one of our key aims.

Christmas is a time for people to spend with family and friends but let's not forget our armed services personnel posted overseas who will be away from them, and those who have lost loved ones.

The new year will bring excitement, fun and happiness for many and challenges for others.

Whatever the future brings, please remember that your council is here to help.

Have a great Christmas and best wishes for 2013.