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Friday 19 February

It has been another busy week with lots of discussions on the Council's coronavirus response and also more 'normal' Council business.

On Monday I caught up virtually with the Council's Assistant Director of Administration, Democratic and Electoral Services, Margaret Waggott, for a briefing. We discussed a range of things, including the upcoming Census and also the Tees Valley Mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

Later on Monday there was a Cabinet pre-agenda meeting, ahead of Thursday's Cabinet meeting. Up for discussion at the pre-agenda meeting was the Council's annual audit letter and the potential impact of Brexit.

This week I have also held regular catch ups with the Council's Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall, and Julie Danks. It's always useful to touch base on the Council's Covid-19 response as it continues to be a very fast moving situation almost 12 months on from the first national lockdown.

It was useful to join Tees Valley Leaders, Mayors, Chief Executives and Public Health colleagues for a meeting regarding Covid-19 on Wednesday. We discussed the latest local and national updates on infection rates and also the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine.

The Council's Director of Town Centre Development, Richard McGuckin, gave a very interesting update to Julie Danks, Councillor Beall and I on Thursday. You may have seen some of the national coverage our town centre plans have received recently and you can also find out more in the News section.

Later on Thursday there was a special Cabinet meeting. A busy agenda included a town centre update and discussions on the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).

Today I'll 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 quickly followed by the Local Outbreak Engagement Group (LOEG) meeting, which I chair. At LOEG we discuss the latest coronavirus infection rates in the area and the Council's ongoing response. Don't forget you can keep up to date with all the latest Covid-19 developments on our  News section.

At the weekend I am looking forward to seeing how Middlesbrough get on against Reading. Neil Warnock's side have been in patch form recently, but did pick up a win on Tuesday night against Huddersfield. Another three points on Saturday is vital as Boro really need to get a run of results together to stay in contention for a play-off place at the end of the season.