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Friday 19 March

It has been another busy week with lots of focus on coronavirus and also more 'normal' Council business.

My week started with a catch-up with the Council's Assistant Director of Administration, Democratic and Electoral Services, Margaret Waggott. We discussed the upcoming Tees Valley Mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections, as well as the handful of Council by-elections. These will all be held on Thursday 6 May.

Later on Monday I attended a Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership Board meeting. There was lots to discuss, including the impact of current coronavirus restrictions and an update on flood prevention from the Environment Agency.

It was interesting to join a meeting of the Armed Forces Veterans Network on Tuesday. This is part of my role as the Borough's 'Armed Forces Champion'.

I then caught up with the Council's Managing Director, Julie Danks, and Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall, for our regular meeting to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. Over the last couple of weeks we have undertaken targeted testing in the TS19 area after a case of the South African COVID-19 variant was found there. There's been a great response to this and it was stood down on Wednesday.

On Wednesday I attended a regional pay briefing, which was put on by the Local Government Association for members of the North East Regional Employers' Organisation.

This was quickly followed by a meeting of Tees Valley Leaders, Mayors, Chief Executives and Public Health colleagues to discuss the ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic. This has moved from a weekly meeting to monthly, which is a sign things are moving in the right direction.

A busy day for me on Wednesday ended with a meeting of the Northern Education Trust, which oversee some of the Borough's primary schools.

On Thursday it was very interesting to join Julie Danks and HR Manager, Liz Purdy, to decide on one of the winners of the Council's Customer Service Excellence Awards. There's been lots of great applications and I'm looking forward to talking about them in more detail. The winners will be announced in due course.

This was followed by a Scrutiny Liaison Forum meeting, where the scrutiny work programme for 2021/2022 was discussed.

A Cabinet meeting also took place on Thursday. It was a busy agenda which included talking about the Council Plan for 2021-2024 and a joint report on the employee survey and an update from the Investor in People Reassessment.

Today I have attended a Collaborative Procurement Sub-Committee meeting, which was organised by the Association of North East Councils. At the meeting there was an update from the North East Procurement Organisation.

This will be followed by my regular catch up with Julie Danks and Councillor Jim Beall on the Council's coronavirus response. I'll then later chair a Local Outbreak Engagement Group meeting to talk about the latest coronavirus infection rates in the Borough.

At the weekend I'm looking forward to seeing how Middlesbrough get on against Millwall. Neil Warnock's side have had a decent season so far, but need a really strong finish to be in with a chance of a play-off spot. Hopefully their recent winning run can continue with a victory tomorrow.