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Friday 5 February

This week has been another busy one where, as well as several meetings about Covid-19, I also met with senior Council officers and key partners about more 'normal' Council business. On Monday the Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall and I met with the Council's Managing Director, Julie Danks who took us through a Cabinet agenda briefing before Members meet formally on 18 February.

Councillor Beall and I also met with Julie on Tuesday for the first of our regular bi-weekly meetings about the latest Covid-19 developments. Despite a recent fall in case numbers, the rate of infections in the Borough remains high and sadly, the number of deaths has also gone up. Once again, I urge us all to do our bit to keep our friends and loved ones safe by following the national lockdown rules.

Later in the week I had a 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.

I then joined our Consultation and Corporate Affairs Manager, Margie Stewart-Piercy, to meet with representatives of the Community Wealth Fund Alliance. The alliance is made up of more than 370 organisations calling for the establishment of a Community Wealth Fund and its aim is to invest in communities which could benefit from funding to improve infrastructure, transport and digital connectivity.

A busy day on Thursday began with a meeting of the Local Government Association's (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board which I sit on with Members from local authorities across the UK. As well as focussing on issues relating to aging populations and adult social care, the Board works to support local government in delivery of its public health, health protection and mental health responsibilities. Inevitably, Covid-19 was at the top of the agenda among several other items up for discussion.

After that I had a briefing on the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) which Members will consider at the end of the month.

This afternoon I'm dialling into a call with Assistant Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, Steve Graham for a useful update on local policing issues.

Councillor Beall and I will then meet with Julie Danks for the second of this week's Covid-19 updates. Straight after that 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. 

At the weekend I'm looking forward to seeing how Middlesbrough get on against Brentford, who are one of the most entertaining and exciting teams in the league. It will certainly be a clash of styles and I think Neil Warnock's side have a great chance to get a win and keep up the pressure on their promotion rivals, especially after the boost of welcoming a few new signings recently.