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Friday 25 June 2021

I had busy week which started with another meeting with Shona Duncan, the Tees Valley Combined Authority's (TVCA) Head of Education, Employment and Skills. Following our meeting last week, we met again on Monday to discuss funding opportunities in this sector in more detail.

Later that day I had a Teams meeting with other TVCA and local authority colleagues to review the TVCA Cabinet agenda before we meet formally on 2 July. There was a busy agenda to get through with items including the authority's Medium Term Financial Plan, adult education budget and a report on the regional investment plan.

Tuesday began with a pre-meeting of the North Each Procurement Organisation (NEPO) Procurement Collaborative Sub-Committee. NEPO works in partnership with the twelve North East Local Authorities to secure quality services and goods which are good value for money. During the meeting we discussed the papers that will be on the next meeting agenda, including the organisation's annual performance and forward work programme.

After that I joined the Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall for our regular catch-up with the Council's Managing Director, Julie Danks. As always, we discussed the latest Coronavirus picture in the Borough as well as more 'normal' Council business.

The following day Councillor Beall, Julie and I met with Director of Town Centres Investment, Richard McGuckin for a useful update briefing on regeneration work across the Borough's town centres.

I then had a catch-up meeting with my counterpart Tees Valley local authority leaders. Our catch-ups are a good opportunity to share and discuss the work that is going on in each of our areas.

The Council's Cabinet met at Stockton Baptist Tabernacle on Thursday afternoon where there were several reports up for consideration. These included reports on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, an update on our Adult Services, and the Special Educational Needs (SEND) Strategy. We also discussed two reports on boundary changes - one on our local ward boundaries and another on proposals to change some of our parliamentary constituency boundaries.

Today I attended a meeting of the Transporter Taskforce which has been set up to look into the next stage in the life of the Transporter Bridge.

In the afternoon I'll chair the Local Outbreak Engagement Group (LOEG) meeting during which we will discuss the latest COVID-19 case numbers. We'll also discuss our response to the latest challenges as well as any other COVID-related issues.

I'm looking forward to spending the next couple of days with my family and watching the football.

The first round of knockout games for EURO 2020 get under way this weekend and I'll be keeping a keen eye on the games when possible before England's date with destiny against Germany on Tuesday. Our qualification from the group stage was assured, not even conceding a goal, so we should use that as a platform to build on for what will be a much tougher test but one that we can overcome with a bit of luck.