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Friday 17 December, 2021

A quieter start to the week than usual gave me the welcome opportunity to catch up on some office work on Monday.

Then on Tuesday morning I attended a pre-meeting of the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO) Collaborative Procurement Sub-committee. NEPO works in partnership with the twelve North East Local Authorities to secure quality services and goods which are good value for money. We discussed issues on the agenda for the next full meeting in January, including the organisation's strategy for the next few years.

This was followed by an online meeting with the Council's Director of Children's Services, Martin Gray, to discuss the A Fairer Stockton-on-Tees initiative ahead of a presentation I was due to give later in the week. A Fairer Stockton-on-Tees is our ambitious ten-year vision to tackle inequality and deprivation in the Borough, to ensure people can enjoy a healthy and happy life, with equal access to opportunities and the support they need. Read more on the Fairer Stockton-on-Tees webpage.

On Wednesday I joined Councillor Nigel Cooke, the Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Housing, for a site visit at the new two million square foot distribution centre being built at Wynyard Business Park. Malcolm Peart, Project Director for ISG, showed us around the new warehouse facility, which it is hoped will create up to 1,500 new jobs when complete.

Afterwards I joined a regular online meeting of the Tees Valley Covid 19 group for an update on the worrying and rapidly developing Covid situation in the UK and to hear about the local picture. We're urging everyone to follow the national rules and work together to protect each other. Read more on the COVID advice pages.

On the evening an Extraordinary Council meeting met at the Baptist Tabernacle to discuss the Council's response to the Boundary Commission recommendations regarding the Ward Boundary Review.

On Thursday, the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Jim Beall, and I met with Managing Director Julie Danks to discuss issues coming up at Friday's Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) Cabinet.

Later that afternoon I joined the Council's Director of Children's Services, Martin Gray to take part in Stockton MET, a business networking event hosted on behalf of Stockton BID. I presented to businesses, via Zoom, on the A Fairer Stockton-on-Tees strategy and took questions on what the plans may mean both across the Borough and for Stockton Town Centre in particular.

This morning I joined other Tees Valley council leaders and the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen for a Pre-Cabinet meeting of the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA). This was followed by the full TVCA Cabinet meeting where we discussed a range of issues including finances and budgets for 2022-23. 

This weekend I'm looking forward to some family time and seeing if Middlesbrough can capitalise on their recent good run of form when they play Bournemouth, who are currently sitting second in the table.  

As this will be my last blog before Christmas I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone across Stockton-on-Tees a happy Christmas and New Year. These are still uncertain times for all of us, so stay safe over the festive period.