Happy New Year. Whilst 2021 was much better than 2020 (it could hardly have been any worse!), I hope 2022 will continue our steady journey back to normality as we learn to live with Covid.

Whilst the Omicron variant is causing additional worry right now, it doesn’t seem to be increasing hospital admissions as much as first predicted. Meaning the government haven’t introduced any additional restrictions at this time. The most important thing we can do to keep it that way is to get boosted. Which is why I’m incredibly grateful to the dedicated doctors, nurses, surgery staff and volunteers who have worked so hard over the Christmas holidays to get as many jabs in as many arms as possible.

At the time of writing 66% of the population of Test Valley (12+) have now received their booster compared to the national figure of 59.5%.

I’m particularly proud that TVBC continue to host vaccination centres in both the Chantry Centre in Andover and the Crosfield Hall in Romsey.

We have lots to look forward to this year. Not least the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Celebrations will take place throughout 2022 with Test Valley supporting a wide range of community events. I also think it’s incumbent on us to mark this moment in history with a longer-lasting reminder of Her Majesty’s incredible service that she continues to show.

This is why we plan to commission two new pieces of artwork for both Andover and Romsey - funded by New Homes Bonus contributions. It’s my hope that generations to come will be able to enjoy these pieces of art and be reminded of this unique moment in British history.

Finally, just before Christmas we made an amendment to allow much more flexibility for the Community Car Schemes that exist across the Borough, which transport older people who don’t have access to their own personal transport.

As part of our emergency response to Covid, the schemes were permitted to also claim for journeys used to assist people who were self-isolating or shielding. This measure was really welcomed, so we’ve decided to make it permanent.

This will enable claims to be made for transport where the client is either unable or too unwell to make the journey themselves but the purpose of the journey is to collect things on their behalf.