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Friday 18 December

This week started with a Board meeting of the Tees Valley Combined Authorities' Education, Employment and Skills Partnership which I chaired.  There was a range of items on the agenda including, of course, the ongoing impact of the pandemic on this sector and the region. 

I then met 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. In the week that the Government is set to review the current tier allocations it was a timely opportunity to discuss that as well as the roll-out of mass testing across the North East which had developed significantly over the weekend.

Later that afternoon I joined the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's regular webinar with Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP for the latest updates from Government.

On Wednesday I joined elected members from across the North East in an executive committee meeting of the North East Regional Employers' Organisation - one of eleven regional bodies which supports local authorities across the UK. I then took part in the regular catch up of Leaders and Mayors from across the Tees Valley where we discussed community testing along with other issues related to our response to Covid-19.

Yesterday morning we learnt that Stockton-on-Tees will remain in Tier three. The recent reduction in rates we've seen is levelling off so please follow the guidelines to get the case numbers falling again.

I had fewer meetings throughout the day so it was a welcome chance to catch up on office work before full Cabinet met virtually in the afternoon. We looked at a number of final reports from Select Committees and I presented an update report about Bright Minds Big Futures (BMBF) - Stockton-on-Tees' youth led movement which works closely with the Council. Members of BMBF joined the meeting and it was good to hear first-hand from them about all the work they have been doing. We also agreed the Feature Lighting programme for the forthcoming year which will see the Borough support a number of national recognised awareness days.

This morning I met with Margaret Waggott, the Council's Assistant Director Administration, Democratic and Electoral Services for a catch up about services which fall within her areas.

In the afternoon I held another catch-up with Julie Danks and Councillor Jim Beall to further discuss the Council's ongoing coronavirus response.

As usual I am ending the working week by chairing a virtual meeting of the Local Outbreak Engagement Group where we will discuss the latest coronavirus picture in the Borough.

This weekend I am looking forward to seeing how Middlesbrough get on in their away game at Birmingham. It was a fantastic victory last weekend against Millwall which was followed by a win against Luton on Wednesday. Birmingham don't score or concede many so it promises to be a tight game, but I think Boro can get another win and keep themselves up near the play-off places.

As this will be the last full working week for many before Christmas I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone across Stockton-on-Tees a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.