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Friday 25 March

The week began with a useful briefing on the Council's Forward Plan from our Assistant Director of Administration, Democratic and Electoral Services, Margaret Waggott. The Plan contains all decisions expected to be made by the Council through its Cabinet Members, as well as key decisions to be taken by officers, in the weeks and months ahead.

On Tuesday I met with the Director of Finance and Business Service, Gary Cummings for a monthly update on the Council's ongoing town centre plans. Joining me at the online meeting were the Council's Managing Director, Julie Danks, and Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall.

This was followed by a virtual meeting with the City Regions Board of the Local Government Association (LGA) to discuss climate investment, levelling up and devolution and skills and employment in 'city regions' like the Tees Valley.

A busy Wednesday began with a briefing for myself and the Deputy Leader from Marc Stephenson, the Council's Community Protection and Resilience Service Manager, on the role local authorities play, alongside our partners, in implementing counter terrorism measures to protect our towns and communities.

This was followed by the regular meeting of Tees Valley Leaders, Mayor and Chief Executives.

I was then joined by Deputy Leader Cllr Beall for the first of three regular catch ups this week with ward councillors.

At a Special Council meeting on Wednesday evening the late Julia Cherrett, former long-serving councillor for Bishopsgarth and Elm Tree ward, was nominated for posthumous Honorary Alderman status in recognition of her dedicated service on behalf of this community. The award will be conferred at a ceremony which will take place as part of the Annual Council Meeting in May.

This was followed by Full Council.  During the busy meeting councillors considered questions from both the public and councillors and a motion put forward by a member on relation to the crisis in Ukraine.

Thursday morning saw a briefing on regional pay from NEREO (North East Regional Employers' Organisation) via Microsoft teams. NEREO's function is to support local authorities and partner organisations in the fields of human resources, organisational development and employee relations. I then took advantage of a lighter day in the diary to catch up on some important paperwork

Today began with two more online catch ups with ward councillors, where I was again joined by the Deputy Leader.

This afternoon I'll be attending the Leaders and Elected Mayors Group of the Association of North East Councils (ANEC) in Sunderland to consider a range of issues that are progressing across the region.

At the weekend there is no Middlesbrough game as it is an international break, but I'll be keeping an eye on England's international friendly against Switzerland. The Wembley game will be the Three Lions' first of the World Cup year so let's hope we get off to a winning start.