As we move to 2021 and beyond, being asked to take the time to reflect upon the year that was 2020 could easily be seen as a masochistic pastime. It would be fair to say that when I and other Lincolnshire leaders and councillors were putting the tree up and penning our reflections on the distant memory of 2019, coping with the pressures of a global pandemic was not top of our wish list for the year ahead.

However, it is important to look back and realise how as councils, residents and other workers we have coped with this unprecedented time. We have shown community spirt and fortitude to help protect the most vulnerable among us and to keep delivering the key services, such as weekly waste and weekly recycling collections, which help keep a district working.

We’ve also been there for our local businesses and economy, distributing around £19 million to over 1,500 businesses most in need of our help and helping South Holland continue to prosper. COVID also hasn’t stopped important steps being taken on the creation of the industry leading Food Enterprise Zone in Holbeach, which will help put the district at the forefront of the international agri-tech sector with cutting edge technology and innovative new businesses.

All of the council’s teams have continued to go above and beyond to provide our residents with a quality service, having to adapt to new ways of working and even new roles entirely as we have had to redeploy to cover priority areas. Their continued enthusiasm, energy and positivity has been a credit to the council all year, and I cannot thank them enough for all they continue to do. I hope they can take the time over the coming weeks to take some well-deserved respite before we start again in January.

It has been an incredibly hard year for us all, but it has also brought out the best in so many people. I have seen more acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and self-sacrifice this year than ever before. With encouraging news about the vaccine rollout it feels like the end is finally in sight and we can look ahead to a time when we can return to the things we have had to give up over the last ten months, from hugging loved ones to the simple pleasure of a pint at the pub.

Despite this, we cannot let our guards down now, and it is important we continue to be considerate of the health and safety of ourselves and others, follow the guidelines for our tier (however unjust its allocation has been) and keep on adhering to those three key words: hands, face and space.

As local leaders, we will continue to fight the corner for our district and county to make sure we receive the restrictions and support we feel is most fitting from the government. Our local and community insight is crucial in helping the next steps be decided on, and it is important that this is not forgotten or ignored moving forwards.

In the meantime though, I would like to wish you all the best festive period possible. I hope you all get the opportunity to take a break, relax, and spend time safely with those who mean the most to you. Thank you for your continued help and cooperation and let’s hope 2021 brings us plenty of positivity.

If 2020 had been a brand it would be any type of gravy put on a bag of chips, just wrong at every level as we all know it should be tomato ketchup.

Gary Porter is the leader of South Holland District Council