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Friday 5 March

As always, this was another very busy week spent responding to the Covid-19 pandemic which began with a call from the Council's Managing Director, Julie Danks who gave me and Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall, an update on the latest developments.

On Monday a special meeting of the Local Outbreak Engagement Group (LOEG) was called to discuss emerging reports that a case of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa had been identified in the Borough and there were several update meetings on this throughout the week.

As you can expect, our officers have been working very closely with Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to set up additional testing for people aged over 16 who live in the TS19 postcode area. 

Following the update from Julie I stayed on the call with her to get a briefing on the topics which have been discussed by our Corporate Management Team and will later be considered by Cabinet. That was ahead of a scheduled meeting with CMT and Members later that afternoon to look at the Council Plan 2021-24. We also discussed the work we've been doing to tackle inequality across the Borough and our approach to continue this work going forward.

I also joined a remote meeting of People Select Committee where, as well as looking back at the scrutiny work programme for 2020/21, committee members reviewed a series of overview reports relating to some of the Council's directorates for the year ahead.

I then had a virtual meeting with Julie and Councillor Beall to go through the results of the recent Covid-19 Employee Survey. Thanks again to everyone who completed the survey - your responses will help as we continue to adapt and develop working practices to cope with the pandemic.

In preparation for the Budget announcement this week I was invited to a national pre-Budget briefing with the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Philipson MP that was followed later in the week by a post-Budget briefing with Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Anneliese Dodds. Both meetings were a useful opportunity to make comments, ask questions, and discuss the issues most relevant to local government.

I had my regular meeting with the Council's Director of Finance Development and Business Services, Garry Cummings and our Inclusive Growth, Planning and Development Manager, Chris Renahan who gave an update on business and regeneration work across the Borough.

This morning I again met virtually with Councillor Beall and Julie Danks for the latest COVID-19 news in preparation for this afternoon's LOEG meeting which I chair.

Following the Budget announcement, I've also got a Ministerial webinar with Council Leaders, Chief Executives and Political Group Leaders from across the UK that will be led by Secretary of State for Housing Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP. It will be another chance to discuss how the Budget will affect local residents and businesses.

 I'll then be dialling into a call with Assistant Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Steve Graham, for an update on policing issues in the area.

This will be followed by the regular weekly LOEG meeting where we'll discuss the latest infection rates and the Council's ongoing response to pandemic.