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November 2018

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Today I am looking forward to attending a bi-monthly Northern Locality Forum at Low Grange Community Centre in Billingham – one of the four forum areas that cover the whole of Stockton-on-Tees. Representatives from the public, private, voluntary and community sectors come together to find ways of supporting and protecting the most vulnerable people in our community. Recently, the forums have hosted pop-up events to give residents advice on how to prepare for the winter weather. The forums have already collected over 300 winter coats for foodbanks and local charities. During the meeting we will hear about the Northern Locality Action Plan, and receive an update on foodbanks across the Borough.

On Thursday I will attend a regular estate inspection, or ‘walkabout’, with Lydia Hodgson, Thirteen’s neighbourhood officer for parts of Norton South, to identify any issues that may need to be tackled. I will then attend a workshop with other leaders across the Tees Valley to discuss the 2025 City of Culture bid. If the bid, to be submitted in 2021, is successful it would enhance the local economy and would be a brilliant opportunity to showcase the region to a worldwide audience. This would showcase everything that is already great about our area as well as showing its future potential.

There is festive cheer in the air this week ahead of the Stockton Sparkles launch and light switch-on this Thursday night. From launch night until Sunday, the Christmas market will transform the High Street into a vibrant festive village with log-cabins selling a range of items from food and drink to gifts and jewellery. I encourage everybody to start their Christmas shopping early.

On Friday I will meet with the Tees Valley Council Leaders’ Group for our weekly catch-up at Cavendish House before attending the Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) Cabinet meeting. Members will discuss the request from Fujifilm for investment to support an exciting expansion at the Billingham site. The first phase of the project aims to build a new bio campus on a former ICI site with the creation of 50 new high quality jobs. It is hoped a further 150 to 200 jobs will be created at a later stage.

Over the weekend I look forward to spending time with my family. I am hopeful ahead of Middlesbrough’s game against Aston Villa on Saturday after a battling display earned a good point at Preston last night.

The Council’s Customer Service Excellence Awards ceremony will be held on Monday in Stockton Central Library. It is a great way to recognise the excellent work of our staff who deliver a top class service to residents across Stockton-on-Tees, especially given the testing times of reduced resources they work in. I’d like to thank them and all Council staff for their hard work over the past year.  

I will then attend a meeting of the Infinity Partnership which was established to ensure that everyone in the Borough has access to financial services and debt-related advice. The Financial Inclusion Forum is made up of service providers from the public, voluntary, community and private sectors, including the Council. During the meeting we will discuss fuel poverty and touch on the ongoing work to reduce the potential negative impact of Universal Credit on our residents. My day will finish with a Cabinet pre-agenda discussion in advance of the meeting on Thursday, December 13.

I will spend Tuesday morning with Richard McGuckin, Director of Economic Growth and Development, for a briefing update. I will then catch-up with Martin Waters, the TVCA’s Head of Homes and Communities, for our regular meeting to review a number of developments across the Borough.

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