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Friday 12 March

After getting up to speed with developments from over the weekend I started my working week of meetings with officers and members at Cabinet Pre Agenda. We looked at the refreshed version of the Council Plan 2021-24, among other items on the agenda.

Tuesday began with a virtual committee meeting with the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO). Through NEPO the 12 North East Local Authorities work together to get the best deal when procuring goods and services and I am one of the councillors who sit on their Procurement Sub Committee.

Later that morning I had the first of my regular bi-weekly meetings with the Council's Managing Director, Julie Danks and the Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall to discuss the latest coronavirus developments.

As you may have seen last week a positive case of the COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa has been identified in the Borough and we worked closely with Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care to set up extra testing for people living or working in the TS19 postcode. This extra testing runs until Wednesday (March 17) and we're encouraging anyone aged over 16 who lives or works in the TS19 postcode to come forward and get tested, even if they do not have symptoms. 

Following this Councillor Beall and Julie Danks joined me in a virtual catch up meeting with Chief Inspector Chris Downes from Cleveland Police. It was good to have an update from Chris about emerging issues across the Borough as well as discussing neighbourhood policing and community safety across Stockton-on-Tees.

In the afternoon I attended the latest Member's Briefing Session organised by Democratic Services. We heard updates on Catalyst as well as preparations for the forthcoming Tees Valley Combined Authority Mayoral Election and the Police and Crime Commissioner Election in May.

On Wednesday I held an online meeting with Alan Foster MBE, the Executive Lead for North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System. It was good to meet with Alan to catch up on the latest developments in this area.

I chaired the latest Tees Valley Combined Authority's Employment, Education and Skills Board on Thursday. It was a full agenda and we discussed the latest skills report and some of the proposals within the Department for Education's White Paper, 'Skills for jobs: lifelong learning for opportunity and growth'. Later in the day I joined Cabinet colleagues for an informal meeting.

This morning I met with Reuben Kench, the Council's Director of the Environment, Culture, Leisure and Events as he was deputising for Julie Danks at the second of the weekly Covid catch ups with Councillor Beall.

This afternoon I'm chairing the weekly meeting of the Local Outbreak Engagement Group (LOEG) where we will review the latest infection figures and discuss our ongoing response to the pandemic. 

I'm looking forward to watching Boro in the mid table clash against Stoke City on Saturday. Stoke are only two points behind with the same amount of games played so it should be a tight match - especially as both teams have been on good form recently.