OUR final edition of Vision for 2011 coincides with one of the busiest periods for the region's business community for some time.
Indeed, we had to rip up our plans for this edition of the magazine as two major news stories broke which it seemed essential we should reflect upon.
One of those stories is the subject of our front page image – the bombshell news that the Rio Tinto Alcan plant in Lynemouth, Northumberland, is to close with the loss of more than 500 jobs.
Announcements such as this are always a major blow to the economy, but at a time of turmoil and with heavy job losses in the public sector locally, this is a move which could have longstanding ramifications for South East Northumberland.
In this edition of Vision we look at the wider consequences of Rio Tinto’s decision and, in particular, what the new taxes on carbon-emissions and environmental legislation in general could mean for heavy industry in the North East. Will the measures announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement be enough to prevent another closure on this scale?
Elsewhere, we look in detail at the acquisition of Northern Rock by Virgin Money and consider what the deal means for staff. At the end of a challenging year for business in the region, the arrival of Sir Richard Branson as a force in the North East seems like a very welcome development indeed.
Andrew Hebden, editor, northeast vision