Within this season of twinkling tinsel, sparkly LED lights, and luminous jumpers, there nestles a golden moment gleaming brighter than the rest - an uplift in spirit that only the turning of the calendar can provide - the untarnished promise of a New Year’s Day.

There is something undeniably intoxicating about a blank canvas, drawing us into hopes and invitations to dream. Right now, we have fresh plans to form, floundering plans to revise or sweep away. All our plans whirling in a delicious waltz between what was and what might be. The magic of every new year lies in its capacity to motivate change.

Beyond ambitions for personal betterment, the new year also invites us to reassess our community and collective goals. For the best intentions of a society are not so dissimilar from those of an individual, are they? A desire for progress, equity, and wishes for a world that reflects those ideals that, for the rest of the year, we mostly only pay lip service to. So, as we each outline our personal resolutions, let us not forget the larger tapestry of humanity that we are all woven into.

In 2024, a critical lever for change will be our vote. Those in the know predict a General Election at some point this year. And beyond the national stage, the May election for Dyfed Powys Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) holds immense significance for the safety and well-being of mid Wales residents.

As the region prepares for the General Election and the election for the Police and Crime Commissioner, it is vital to remind ourselves that voting is not just a right; it is a powerful tool that shapes the destiny of communities and nations. As the election season unfolds, mid Wales exemplifies the spirit of democracy – a collective effort to build a future that reflects the values and aspirations of its diverse and vibrant population.

The election for Dyfed Powys PCC is an opportunity for residents to have a say in local law enforcement and criminal justice policies and the chance to choose the public representative who will most effectively collaborate across communities to address local crime concerns and implement effective policies and strategies to ensure the security of every citizen. By participating in the PCC election, Dyfed Powys residents have the power to elect a candidate who aligns with the region’s values and priorities regarding community safety. So, pay attention to what the candidates have to say about how our region should be policed. And vote.

My vote will not be blind and party political. My vote for PCC will be for a candidate with an independent voice more in tune with our community; a candidate that promises police officers will perform far fewer stops and searches on young law-abiding citizens; a candidate with an uncompromising focus on the region’s primary concerns - the increasing scourge of domestic violence and the community-destroying distribution of Class A drugs.

So, in this fleeting moment between the old and the new, where plans collide and dreams converge, there lies the potential for genuine transformation - a chance to transcend the limitations of the past - to forge a path towards a more just tomorrow. By registering and then exercising our right to vote, residents become architects of positive change, safeguarding democracy and building a brighter future for their communities.

The choices made at the ballot box extend beyond immediate policy decisions. They also play a crucial role in determining the trajectory of regional development. Effective elected representatives do have the power to attract investments, initiate infrastructure projects, and promote economic growth. By voting, residents of mid Wales can actively shape the future of our communities, contributing to sustainable development and improved living standards.

For mid Wales, which experiences unique challenges often not understood at the national level, participating in elections gives residents the chance to empower local voices and elect representatives who understand the specific needs and concerns of the region. Voting is a means of ensuring that mid Wales’ interests are at least slightly represented in the halls of power. Local concerns, local solutions.

Beyond our vote, another powerful catalyst for communal change will be personal commitments to social justice. Unfortunately, the fight for social justice is more complicated than buying and wearing a badge, attending an occasional coffee morning, or standing in a crowd during annual days of acknowledgement. The battle against prejudice and discrimination is a year-round responsibility that demands bravery, unwavering attention, and action. Are you willing to try?

For this year, like every year, we will all witness minor and major examples of misogyny, racism, and homophobia. Like a whack-a-mole ninja, our unbreakable resolution must be to fearlessly bear down on each injustice we encounter; to report, to challenge, never again to be the silent and spineless bystander when bullying and bigotry pops up yet another ugly head.

In the spirit of the new year, let us resolve to test and retest the foundations and integrity of the establishments and structures we have erected. To vote at every opportunity. To amplify the voices of the marginalised, dismantle systemic inequalities, and cultivate empathy within our communities. To celebrate the strides we have made in the fight for social justice and to rededicate ourselves to the ongoing struggle.

Whether it is advocating for equal opportunities, supporting marginalised communities, or standing up against discrimination, the new year provides us with the canvas upon which we can paint a more just and compassionate society. Let us make it a Happy New Year for all.