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10 March 2023

This week started with a meeting between myself, Mike Greene, Chief Executive, and representatives from the Local Government Association (LGA) including Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson; Britain's greatest ever Paralympic athlete and now President of the LGA. We discussed a whole range of things we are working on as a Council, and their regional representative met with directors and other senior officers to get a real sense of what we do. We talked about how we can work together better and help each other in the future.

On Monday afternoon I had a Cabinet pre-agenda meeting ahead of Cabinet next week. We received an update on the Levelling Up Fund and discussed the Borough's plans for the King's Coronation among other things.

A busy Tuesday started with a morning sub-committee meeting with the Association of North East Councils on collaborative procurement. Collaborative procurement in the North East helps us all to get the best deal possible and save as much money as we can together.

In the afternoon I first attended the Tees Valley Combined Authority's (TVCA) Education, Employment and Skills Advisory Group, which I chair. There's a lot of work happening here in Stockton-on-Tees and across the Tees Valley with the TVCA using European Structural Investment Funds and the UK Shared prosperity Fund.

After, I attended the Stockton-on-Tees Community Partnerships' "Big Get Together" which sees community representatives from the seven partnerships come together to discuss priorities in their areas and discuss any collaborative work that could happen.

Yesterday I presented at the Westminster Employment Forum's Regional Skills Conference to talk about our region's priorities. My Chair role with the TVCA's Education, Employment and Skills Advisory Group keeps me up to date and informed with everything happening in the Tees Valley. Locally, our Learning and Skills Service and Stockton Employment and Training Hub are doing some amazing work getting people into further education, paid employment, and apprenticeships.

Today after a busy week I am catching up with emails and important paperwork.

This weekend I will be spending some time relaxing with my family. Middlesbrough enjoyed a 5-0 win over Reading in the Championship - their biggest win since January 2019. The team is playing with real positivity at the moment, and I hope that they will play with the same intensity this Saturday at Swansea. Another win is needed to try and close the 7-point gap to second-place Sheffield United to steal the automatic promotion spot.