Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Friday 31 January 2020

On Monday morning I joined the Deputy Leader, Councillor Jim Beall, to meet with Councillor Ken Dixon. He has represented Ingleby West ward since 2005 and it’s always useful to catch up with fellow councillors to be updated on the latest developments in their area.

Neil Mitchell, Private Sector Housing Team Manager, then came to my office for a briefing on the good work he has been involved in developing community partnerships. They bring together organisations like the Council, police, fire brigade, voluntary bodies and social landlords to drive up standards and make areas better places to live.

A busy day continued with a visit to Cavendish House at Teesdale for a Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) Governance meeting. These meetings set out the way that the organisation is managed and conducts its business.

It was a pleasure to welcome Major Pat Ralph MM, Assistant Secretary to The Yorkshire Regiment to my office on Monday afternoon. Major Ralph kindly briefed me on the latest news regarding the regiment and, as Armed Forces Champion, I was keen to see what support I could offer them.

On Tuesday I attended a meeting at Billingham South Community Primary School to review performance data for 2018/19. The results were good and it was pleasing to learn how the school is doing in relation to regional and national averages. Congratulations to the staff, governors, parents and cares plus, of course, the children themselves for such great progress.

The Local Government Association held its latest Community Wellbeing Board meeting in London which I travelled to on Wednesday. The board works to support local government in delivery of its public health, health protection and mental health responsibilities, as well as issues relating to an ageing society and the reform of adult social care.

I was on the train back to make it in time for a special Council meeting as members considered Kathryn Nelson and Paul Baker to be appointed to Honorary Aldermen status. It is in recognition of their long service spanning two decades so I was very pleased to see this brought forward for consideration.

A full Council meeting followed with a packed agenda of items including the appointment of Independent Persons to help maintain high standards of conduct among councillors, appointments to a number of committees and a special motion submitted by Councillor Steve Nelson that we support the Bright Minds Big Future Big Committee in their work to develop a knife and gun crime awareness campaign.

Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January) was marked again on Wednesday by illuminating our feature lighting purple alongside a special event in Stockton Central Library where Gabriele Keenaghan, a holocaust survivor, gave an emotional testimony of her experiences.

I was on my travels again on Thursday to the Beacon of Light in Sunderland for the North East Regional Children in Care Council conference. It was a fantastic event and an important opportunity to hear the stories and views of young people in the care system from across the region.

This morning I have been back at Cavendish House for a pre-Cabinet meeting with my fellow regional Leaders and Mayors before the full Cabinet meeting was held. The agenda included focused consideration of TVCA’s investment, budget and medium-term financial plans as well as strategic transport and innovation programmes also reviewed.

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

Middlesbrough host Blackburn Rovers on Saturday at the Riverside. Boro legend Tony Mowbray will be in the away dugout and I’m sure he’ll get a warm reception from the fans for his stellar service both as a player and manager.