Cllr Debbie Wilcox, Newport City Council leader

I WOULD like to wish everyone in Newport and our neighbouring counties a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

As a city we have much to look forward to in 2018.

We will host the first Wales Marathon, welcome the British Lionhearts for the World Series of Boxing, and keep up our tradition as a cycling city with the Wales Velothon returning, plus more exciting cycling events – look out for news very soon.

Our regeneration is also set to continue at pace. We’ve just announced the redevelopment of two landmark buildings – the former sorting office and Chartist Tower – plus we’ll be launching our new city masterplan at the City Summit in a few weeks.

But of course we know there will be challenges ahead too.

We are currently consulting on our budget for 2018/19 – providing over 800 services to a growing population with considerably less money and staff is no easy feat. Please take part and have your say.

Thank you to everyone who contributes to our local communities and to our partner organisations and local businesses.

The success of our city depends very much on us all working together – I look forward to the coming year.

Cllr Anthony Hunt, Torfaen County Borough Council leader

I’D like to wish South Wales Argus readers all the best for Christmas and the New Year.

At this time of year, I want to thank the people who make our communities stronger.

Those who work in our public services to provide vital services all year round.

The volunteers who help run charities and community groups.

The businesses who are the lifeblood of our local economy.

Those who pitch in to help others, like in the recent snow, or by donating to foodbanks, or just looking out for your neighbours.

Thank you for all you do for our area.

Too many leaders in our world think their job is all about promoting themselves. It’s not.

For me, leadership is about being the glue that holds all these good things in our communities together – about boosting others, not your own ego.

In 2018, hard choices will no doubt face us.

Only by working together will we be able to meet those challenges and protect our communities.

I also hope 2018 is a year when our public discourse becomes kinder and less polarised.

As politicians, we have a responsibility to lead from the front – to recognise that although someone may disagree with us, that does not make them a bad person.

I do not know of any problem that has been resolved by name-calling.

So, on social media or anywhere else, lets debate with passion, but never forget that our opponents, even politicians, are human beings.

Caerphilly County Borough Council leader Cllr David Poole

THE festive period is a time of reflection, and as I look back, it’s clear that 2017 has been a mixed year – of highs but indeed some challenges too.

In looking back, I must thank my colleagues – the staff at Caerphilly County Borough Council – for their professionalism and passion, and that despite challenging financial times, they continue to strive to deliver quality services for the residents of our county borough.

These challenges will undoubtedly continue over the coming years, but my colleagues and I will rise to these challenges, and together we’ll do all we can to ensure our residents continue to receive quality frontline services into the future.

As we settle done to enjoy this year’s festivities with our family and friends, it’s important that we remember that the festive period isn’t a break from work for everybody.

My sincere thanks go to our social care staff, highways team and many, many others across the council, as well as our emergency services and health colleagues, who work all year round to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are protected and well looked after.

Finally, I’d urge residents to check in on relatives or neighbours that might be on their own over the festive period.

Christmas can be a lonely time for those living alone, and a short call or visit can make all the difference.

As 2017 draws to a close, I wish all readers a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

Monmouthshire County Council chair Cllr Maureen Powell

I FEEL extremely privileged to serve once again as chairman of Monmouthshire County Council. As before, it has been an extremely busy but interesting time.

I hope that you enjoyed a very happy Christmas and you made time for relaxing with your families and friends.

Approaching a new year, we remember the events of the past 12 months.

The completion of Caldicot School brought much delight to the community and work is well underway on a new secondary school for Monmouth with adjacent sports facilities. I am pleased to say that due to the hard work of pupils and the dedication of teaching staff our schools performed extremely well in the GCSE and A-level exams.

In early November I spent a rewarding time at a Young Carers’ Rights Day event at Skenfrith’s Hilston Park. The service that these young people provide for their families is second to none and they assume responsibilities at an age when they should have only school and recreation to think about.

It was lovely to see them relaxing and enjoying themselves with others in the same situation, with many activities and opportunities to talk to new friends. I’m confident that our recently-launched Young Carers’ Strategy will offer them appropriate support.

We are lucky that Monmouthshire produces many talented young people. Our schools produce fabulous shows and their sporting successes continue to amaze me. One of the sporting highlights was the “Crosstober” event at Abergavenny Leisure Centre, when cyclists of all ages and abilities tackled the cross country course.

This event grows and grows and we hope to retain it within Monmouthshire to complement the other cycling competitions held in the county.

Also on a sporting theme, I was privileged to meet Judy Murray who gave advice and instruction to our many young budding tennis players.

The council continues to provide extensive sporting facilities during the school holidays at each of our leisure centres, where young people can spend all day enjoying a variety of games and activities.

I attended a recent session where activities focus on learning new skills, developing confidence, meeting new friends and most importantly, having fun while participating.

In September, I was honoured to represent Monmouthshire, when, together with Northern Automotive Systems Ltd (NAS Ltd) we warmly welcomed representatives from Xiangshan County, China and the Huaxiang Group. NAS Ltd is one of the county’s largest employers and is owned by the Huaxiang Group.

It was the third visit in recent times, with the council signing a friendship agreement with Xiangshan County.

In addition to my many duties within Monmouthshire, I represent the county at events, local shows and civic services in other authorities across Wales.

For instance, I’ve had the honour of meeting lovely people at tea in Swansea’s Mansion House as well as visits to Fonman Castle in the Vale and the Royal Welsh Show.

My chosen charities this year are the Alzheimer’s Society Wales and the Wales Air Ambulance and in the autumn I decided upon a sponsored swim to raise funds.

I undertook 40 lengths of a 25 metre pool challenging sponsors to guess my time - I managed to complete the one kilometre distance in just over 29 minutes.

I thank all who sponsored me and those who contributed to my Christmas raffle. I’m planning further events in the spring.

I wish everyone a successful and happy New Year and look forward with optimism to a promising 2018.

First minister Carwyn Jones

FOR many of us, this time of year can be very busy as we try to juggle home and work – Christmas shopping, nativities, carol concerts, writing cards, wrapping presents, seeing family, friends and colleagues – the To Do list goes on and on. For others, this time of year can be difficult and stressful.

I am proud that 2017 is the year this government pledged to end youth homelessness in Wales, and I hope the extra support we have recently announced will help more and more vulnerable people through this winter, and the winters ahead.

This has been an eventful, unpredictable and - at times - hugely difficult year. There have been both highs and lows.

There are more people in work in Wales than ever before, our exports and inward investment levels continue to impress, a new scheme means that there are more people accessing breakthrough treatments and medicines, and we are providing more support than ever before for our valued NHS.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of devolution and provided us with the opportunity to look back on our biggest achievements - an economy transformed, schools and colleges rebuilt and leading the way on organ donation and recycling.

A small, confident nation, now with a big voice of our own.

This summer Cardiff proudly hosted the greatest sporting event of the year, the Champions League Final. The eyes of the world were on Wales – and, again, we delivered.

However, celebrations were cut short as the tragic events of the London Bridge attack unfolded and the country had to face the horrors of yet more innocent lives lost in another appalling and senseless act.

This year, we’ve lost good friends who are missed each and every day by us, by their families, by all who knew them and by the nation. My thoughts will be with all those who are without loved ones this Christmas.

I would also like to pay my heartfelt thanks to our hardworking emergency services, as well as our carers and volunteers who give up their Christmas to help others. Your dedication and commitment is an inspiration to all of us.

Let’s make 2018 a year that unites us and go into the New Year with a message of peace and reconciliation, so we can pull together and work towards building a better Wales for everyone.