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Friday 11 February

The week started with my regular online catch up with Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall, to discuss emerging issues affecting residents and businesses across the Borough and plan forthcoming business in the week ahead.

In the afternoon I was joined by Managing Director Julie Danks for a regular portfolio briefing with Shona Duncan, Head of Education, Employment and Skills at Tees Valley Combined Authority.

I then joined other Cabinet members remotely for a pre-agenda discussion on the Council's budget position ahead of a special Cabinet meeting next week to discuss the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).

On Tuesday I took advantage of a quieter day in the diary to focus on some important Council paperwork.

Wednesday saw a remote meeting of the Council's Members Advisory Panel, where we considered various civic matters for the coming year including Remembrance Day commemorations.

This was followed by another useful update on the Medium Term Financial Plan with Managing Director Julie Danks and the Council's Director for Finance Development and Business Services, Garry Cummings.

The MTFP was also top of the agenda at an informal meeting of Cabinet Members on Thursday.

This week is National Apprenticeship Week and this morning, as a former apprentice myself, it was my pleasure to present awards to four young people who have completed their two year apprenticeship at local software company Vianet Ltd. It was great to hear from the apprentices about their Kickstart placements and the work they have undertaken at Vianet, and I was also given a tour of the facilities at Surtees Park on Bowesfield Lane by senior management.

My working week will be wrapped up this afternoon with an introductory meeting with recruitment consultants Penna, who may be able to assist with any of the Council's future recruitment needs.

At the weekend I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and seeing how Middlesbrough get on at home to Derby, who currently sit second bottom of the table. Boro and the fans are still on a high after last week's fantastic FA Cup win against Man Utd, and then coming from behind twice to earn a well-deserved point at fourth-placed QPR.