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October 2019

Wednesday 30 October

This afternoon I will be travelling to Billingham to take part in a team meeting of Independent Reviewing Officers. They play a hugely important role in looking after children in care, ensuring proper scrutiny of the local authority’s care plan for that child. Their work focuses on making sure the plan is carried out in the best interests of the child and that everyone involved in each child’s care is fulfilling their legal obligations.

Following this I’ll be back in Stockton, in the Jim Cooke Conference Suite, for a briefing meeting about the Council’s Forward Plan. The Plan contains all of the decisions that are expected to be made by the Council, through its Cabinet members and via any key decisions taken by officers, in the coming months.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to visiting a meeting of the Stockton Carers Peer Support Group at Stockton Parish Church Hall. It’s a fantastic weekly get together that offers advice and a welcoming place for carers to meet others in a friendly environment.

The session this week will be about Teesside Dementia Link Services, an independent local charity supporting people living with dementia – and their carers, family and friends. They offer a number of services including dementia cafes, craft groups, luncheon clubs, support with benefit applications and one-to-one emotional support.

On Friday I will be making the most of an opportunity to catch up on important Council paperwork in my office.

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

Early on Saturday I will be travelling up to Saltwell Park in Gateshead for the North East Field of Remembrance Dedication Ceremony. As the Borough’s Armed Forces Champion, it’ll be a privilege to attend this service and pay my respects to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in conflict.

Middlesbrough FC’s woes don’t seem to be getting any better unfortunately, after they couldn’t break down ten-man Fulham at the Riverside last Saturday. A tricky looking trip to Derby County is next up and the side’s lack of goals are a real concern! Fingers crossed for a turnaround in fortunes.

Sunday sees the return of one of our most popular events in the whole calendar, the annual Stockton Fireworks display. With around 40,000 people expected to be there, I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere there and to see families making memories together.

This year’s display carries a sporting musical theme which is right up my street to commemorate what has been a brilliant year of support with England lifting the ICC Cricket World Cup and the national rugby union team reaching the final of the World Cup against South Africa among others. Hopefully there’ll be extra reason to celebrate come Sunday evening! I hope everyone who comes down to the Riverside has a great time. You can get all of the information you need for the display at

Back to work on Monday morning and I’ll be joining the Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall, to meet with Councillor Chris Clough. Cllr Clough has represented Billingham West ward since May 2015 and we’re meeting to brief him on a number of emerging and developing issues from across the patch.

Following this, I’ll be meeting with the various trade unions that the local authority works alongside. We have a strong and positive relationship with them so it’s important that we meet regularly to continue this good work.

A busy day will continue with a tour of Middlesbrough College alongside the Council’s Managing Director, Julie Danks. We’ll be there to see their newly refurbished training restaurant, the Waterside Brasserie. All food is prepared and served by students of the college under the guidance of industry professionals, so it’s a fantastic way for them to learn on the job. I’ve been doing a lot of work assessing the skills we have across the region as part of my Education, Employment and Skills portfolio with Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA), and this will be another useful opportunity to see how the facility is meeting students’ needs.

My final meeting of the day will be a pre-agenda meeting of Cabinet where we will be focussing on a range of items that will be considered by Members in the next session.

On Tuesday I will be briefed by Richard McGuckin, Director of Economic Growth and Development, on a range of projects and investments that are continually developing across the Borough.

ConocoPhillips are doing a lot of work relating to propane gas and I will be visiting their site to get an update on how this is progressing and to see whether the Council can offer any further support in any area.

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