May I wish the people of Reading a Happy New Year!
Looking forward to 2015 I have three wishes:
Firstly, that there is a big turn-out of voters on Thursday 7 May for the next General Election. We often hear voices critical of our politicians - in my opinion sometimes fairly, sometimes not - but our democracy and freedoms are vital to what makes this country great and must not be taken for granted. In other countries we see people fight to have the right to vote and sometimes queue for hours to exercise that right, so let's reverse the falling trend and use this privilege: it does not matter who you choose to vote for, just vote!
Secondly, I hope that Reading FC can yet still fight their way through to the Championship Play-Offs and make it third time lucky by winning promotion at Wembley on 25 May. We have enjoyed our record breaking promotions of the past as well as the heartache of play-off losses - I will never forget the misery of that Bolton game in 1995 - but it is not too late for new manager Steve Clarke to put a run together which could take us all the way to that big pay day game on Bank Holiday Monday at the end of May.
Third and finally, I hope that by this time next year the number of people In Reading relying on the town's food banks to survive a very modest form of living has vastly diminished. The fact that these organisations exist at all in the 21st century in a relatively prosperous town in one of the best well off parts of one of the richest economies in the world is a stain on our society. For now please keeping giving food donations, but do what you can to eradicate their very need to be.
May the New Year also make your wishes come true too!
Mayor of Reading