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Friday 15 January

Monday morning started with a briefing from Shona Duncan, Head of Skills, Education and Employment at the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). I meet regularly with Shona as part of chairing TVCA's Education, Employment and Skills Partnership and this was a good opportunity to go over the latest updates across the sector.

In the afternoon I joined officers and fellow cabinet colleagues for Cabinet Pre Agenda. We looked at a number of the final reports coming out of scrutiny reviews and also received an update on the Medium Term Financial Plan. Later in the meeting Councillor Nigel Cooke gave us an update on the Sycamores Development, the new housing development which sits on the former Victoria Estate site in Stockton Town Centre. 

On Tuesday I attended a General Licensing Committee meeting where we looked at a number of policy reviews before I joined the Council's Managing Director, Julie Danks and Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall for one of our regular catch ups to discuss our ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

As well as the testing we are already undertaking in a number of targeted areas, two more sites opened this week to test people without Covid symptoms living or working across the Borough. The aim of this free testing is to identify people who have COVID-19 so that they know to isolate. The new sites at Thornaby Pavilion and Billingham Forum are in addition to the centre at Splash, Stockton. 

Wednesday saw Julie Danks and I join Leaders, Mayors and Chief Executives from the other Tees Valley local authorities for our regular meeting to get up to speed with what is happening across the region with the pandemic.

Yesterday I chaired the TVCA's Education, Employment and Skills Partnership virtual board meeting via Microsoft Teams. We concentrated on the latest findings of the Tees Valley Economic Assessment review and Skills Report. Following this Cabinet members came together for an informal meeting.

This morning I attended the Association of North East Council's Leaders and Mayor's virtual Group meeting. With topical updates on children's services and the integrated care system across the region, as well as the North East Cultural Partnership, it was a busy meeting.

I am joining MPs and leaders from across the region on a call with Cleveland Police's Assistant Chief Constable, Steve Graham this afternoon. It will be a good opportunity to hear how policing across the patch is going with the latest Covid restrictions.

This afternoon Councillor Beall and I will be meeting with Julie Danks again for the second of our Coronavirus updates this week. I'll then chair a regular meeting of the Local Outbreak Engagement Group (LOEG) to discuss the latest coronavirus case figures in Stockton-on-Tees. 

At the weekend I am looking forward to see how Middlesbrough get on against former manager Aitor Karanka in their game with Birmingham City. Boro lost to Brentford in the FA Cup last weekend but did have a number of Covid-19 cases - hopefully the players who have been infected are fully recovered now. A victory over Birmingham would be a great way to bounce back and keep Neil Warnock's side near the top of the Championship table.