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Friday 27 November

This week started with a meeting with the Council's Managing Director, Julie Danks and Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall to discuss our ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic. It was a timely opportunity to discuss the roll-out of "rapid-result" testing across the North East among other issues which had developed over the weekend, although there are delays in the Government getting tests out to local authorities.

I joined the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's regular webinar with Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick MP, on Monday afternoon. It's the time of the week when local government leaders from across the country come together for the latest updates from Government. 

Later that evening I joined Councillor Beall and other members in an online meeting to discuss the update on the ward boundary review which is being carried out by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England.

Tuesday saw me once again join Julie Danks and Councillor Beall for a further Covid update meeting before I caught up with work in the office.

On Wednesday I took part in an online meeting of Gateshead's Armed Forces Network who were hosting the Royal Navy Engagement Team. As the Borough's Armed Forces Champion I'm always honoured to meet with serving members of the armed forces, as well as veterans and their families, so their presentation was both interesting and informative.

The weekly Covid update meeting of Tees Valley Leaders, Mayor and Chief Executives followed before I also joined Richard McGuckin, the Council's Director of Town Centres Development and Julie for an update briefing on how work is progressing on masterplans for all six of the Borough's towns.

Yesterday, I continued the town centres theme by joining a Town Deal Webinar ran by Business In The Community.  I also took part in the last in a series of meetings with the Institute for Public Policy Research which saw local representatives from across the Tees Valley come together to discuss climate change and other environmental issues.

Of course, we also learnt yesterday that, along with the rest of the Tees Valley and North East region, we'll be placed into the strictest tier of local restrictions when the national lockdown ends next week. Since day one of the pandemic our focus has been on supporting our most vulnerable residents and our businesses, and that's still our focus now. We also need some assurances from Government about the financial support available to businesses as well as urgent clarity on testing.

Today started with the Tees Valley Combined Authority Cabinet meeting where we had an update from the Tees Valley Mayor and discussed a series of papers including items on investment, the economy and the culture sector as well as Covid-19. 

In the afternoon I held my third 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 against Huddersfield. After last weekend's unfortunate defeat to Norwich, Boro bounced back with a midweek win against Derby County and need to get another unbeaten run going to stay in the mix for a play-off place. I'm confident Neil Warnock's side can get a victory against a side who it is easy to forget were playing Premier League football less than two years ago.