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Friday 10 September

It's been another busy week with a diary packed with meetings and has also seen the return of some staff to our offices for the first time in 18 months. It's great to see some familiar faces again and I'm looking forward to meeting staff who have joined us during the pandemic.

On Monday morning I had a Zoom call with former Education Secretary Justine Greening to learn more about the work she is doing regarding the "Levelling Up" agenda. This was particularly useful to find out about as a lot of the work that's starting to be done in places like Plymouth dovetails with the Fairer Stockton-on-Tees framework that is currently being developed and led by Martin Gray, Director of Children's Services.

I then met with representatives from the Banks Group who work across a number of areas including property development and renewable energy. It was a good opportunity to be updated on the progress of their schemes and to get an insight into their future plans. Of course, I was able to give them a summary of the numerous projects and programmes we are advancing too.

Along with colleagues from the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA), the Education, Employment and Skills advisory group met to update on our latest work in these areas and look ahead to our work programme of things that are coming up.

Lastly on Monday I joined a call on Microsoft Teams with fellow Cabinet Members to review the agenda for the upcoming meeting of Cabinet that'll be held on Thursday 16 September.

On Tuesday I joined the Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall, Managing Director, Julie Danks and Director of Community Services and Transport, Jamie McCann, for a virtual meeting with Chief Inspector Chris Smiles and Superintendent Sharon Cooney from Cleveland Police. This was one of our regular meetings to discuss emerging issues relating to crime and community safety across the Borough which are always helpful.

Later that day, I found it useful to attend a Members' session on the My HR system. We've all been using it for some time now, but it was a good introduction for the newly elected councillors and constructive reminder for the rest of us.

I was delighted to attend a celebration event held by our Learning and Skills Service to mark the achievements of learners, apprentices, employers and partners the team there work with. Everyone should be very proud of their hard work and my thanks go to the staff in the service who do a fantastic job.

I took the welcome opportunity presented by a slightly lighter diary on Wednesday to catch up on some important paperwork in my office.

Thursday brought around one of my regular meetings with our Director of Finance, Development and Business Services, Garry Cummings, to be briefed on the latest developments and progress of work in his directorate.

Later that day I was happy to visit the Globe again as part of a heritage event being held there. The venue is packed to the rafters with historic features and I'd really recommend you read our recent press release to find out what you should look out for on your next visit.

On the subject of the Globe, it would be remiss of me not to mention that it was brilliant to hear how well the opening show by McFly went on this past Monday night. By all accounts the first gig went extremely well and it's fantastic to finally have big crowds back in the restored theatre after so many years. Here's to the future success of the venue!

Most of my time today is being spent assisting with the shortlisting process as we seek a new Assistant Director of Finance, Development and Business Services to help lead that directorate in the years to come.

I'm looking forward to spending time with my family this weekend.

After the international break, it's back to business for Boro and I'll be keeping a keen eye on how they get on away at Coventry on Saturday. Results have been mixed so far but it was good to see the squad bolstered with some new signings before the transfer window closed, so hopefully the additions can make a positive impact from the off.