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February 2020

Friday 28 February 

The working week got under way with a meeting with Managing Director, Julie Danks, to discuss the Medium Term Financial Plan which is heading to Council on Wednesday evening.

It seeks to outline the Council’s budget for 2020/21 and set the Council Tax rate so it is a highly important part of the fiscal calendar.

Following this, I joined a telephone conference call with officers from the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) regarding the portfolio responsibility I have for Education, Employment and Skills. The aim is to make 133,000 jobs available across the Tees Valley by 2024 so it was a useful opportunity to catch up on the progress made to date.

Back over in Municipal Buildings, I then joined a panel of people representing young people, education and business to shortlist for this year’s Civic Awards. The awards honour local people and organisations that make a real difference to our community and it’s always a privilege to be part of it.

I then sat in on a meeting of the Place Select Committee with Councillor Mike Smith where I was there in place of Councillor Nigel Cooke who was unable to attend. This was an important meeting where an overview report for the Economic Growth and Development Services was presented for the year ahead.

On Tuesday I joined Ann Workman, Director of Adults & Health, for a discussion on residential rehabilitation and assessment centres in the Borough that the Council operate.

It was time for the special full Council meeting on Wednesday at Stockton Town Hall to consider the aforementioned Medium Term Financial Plan. Councillors considered a proposal to increase Council Tax by 1.9 per cent and to implement the Government’s 2 per cent Adult Social Care Levy.

Protecting the areas and people most in need will always remain our priority and it’s important to remember that we’re operating in the context of having had our funding reduced by Government to the tune of £73million between 2010 and 2020.

On Thursday it was a privilege to attend a meeting in Durham of the North East Veterans’ Network Forum in my capacity as Armed Forces champion for the Borough. A number of issues were reviewed with a large focus on the housing situation for those leaving the services.

I then travelled back to Stockton for a meeting of the Cabinet to review a number of items including a scrutiny review of care homes for older people, the procedure for primary and secondary school admissions, annual procurement plans, the Council Plan for 2020-23 and a confidential item relating to a potential site for long-stay parking in Yarm.

Today I am back over in Durham for a meeting in my Armed Forces champion role, this time focussing on health. It’ll be very useful to network with new people from across the region who are invested in improving outcomes for those who serve.

Over the weekend I am looking forward to spending time with my family.

Middlesbrough have a few extra days to recover from the midweek clash with Leeds United before they take on Nottingham Forest for a televised match on Monday evening. Results of late have been really concerning and the risk is very real of Boro becoming stuck in a relegation battle – there’s got to be an upturn of results soon and let’s hope it can get started against a couple of the division’s best teams.