Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Week Commencing 12 June 2017

Monday 12 June 2017

Attended the launch of Young at Heart in our Shoes Group at St John’s Church Durham Road Stockton Parachuting activity.



It was a pleasure to be invited to the Young at Heart ULO’s “In our Shoes” Carers Support and Social Group at the St John’s Church in Durham Road, Stockton.

The work of this church supports and benefits from a growing number of youth elderly and children’s workers, helping in hospitals, prisons, education and other areas as well as numerous community projects like the ones mentioned above, providing Christian mission and ministry to all sorts of people every day of the week.

undefined The Young at Heart Group at St Johns Church.

The Young at Heart ULO is an activity and social group for people with memory problems and dementia. The group are supported and encouraged to take part in a range of activities that promote creativity, cognitive stimulation and physical activity, as well as engaging socially with other group members.

undefined Alison Watson-Shields – Organiser and coordinator.

 “In our Shoes” is a carers support and social group for carers of people with memory problems or dementia. The group welcomes carers who are currently caring for someone, or have previously cared for someone with memory problems or a dementia, who seek or are able to offer advice and support for fellow carers.

It was a privilege to celebrate the work of all the carers over the years for their hard work and commitment, making a difference to people’s lives, especially those with dementia, providing the support that will enable them to go on to healthy happy futures.

I personally thanked all the carers at St Johns for the work they do to help people of the Borough. Special thanks go to Alison Watson-Shields, an unsung hero who organises the two projects, putting her heart and soul into the projects and gives her time patience and love in helping others who are less fortunate, a truly passionate person.

The groups are free to attend, but a voluntary donation is always welcome to help cover costs. For more information about the two projects please contact Alison Watson-Shields on 01915006122 (voicemail) or 07590535448 (mobile).


Tuesday 13 June 2017

Attended the Vice- Chancellor and Warden of Durham University Summer Garden Party at Hollingside House Durham

undefined Durham University Chamber Choir

 We were invited to the Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University Summer Garden Party at Hollingside House in Durham.

We were welcomed by Professor Simon Forrest Head of School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health at Durham University who was hosting the Mayor and Mayoress of Stockton. We were introduced to the Mayor and Mayoress of Durham, Councillor Bill Kellett and Mrs Jean Chaplow and The Mayor and Mayoress of Darlington, Councillors Jan and Christopher Taylor, and enjoyed the pleasantries of the evening. On the outside marquee we were entertained by the Durham University Chamber Choir, comprising the finest musicians from the University Choir. The Choir ensemble played a selection of light repertoire, which they had performed to great success at many university events.

We also met up with Professor Stuart Corbridge Vice Chancellor and Warden of Durham University who welcomed us all to the summer evenings congregation and spoke at length of Durham’s achievements and success.  

Durham University ranked as one of the world’s top universities and recently ranked fourth in Britain behind Oxford, Cambridge and St Andrews. It provides a unique environment for both staff and students, with distinctive collegiate environment, and has grown to over 17,500 students, both undergraduate and postgraduate from 150 countries and over 3,000 staff.

The University pursues academic excellence, and has a long history of first class education and research. It combines world leading innovative research, with a strong and rich culture heritage that is embedded with the local communities in Durham City and Queens Campus in Stockton. The students and staff are global citizens, solving global issues that place them amongst the most respected and sought after in the world.

undefined Northern Lights

We listened to a talented acapella group who have performed to sell out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, they were outstanding. Other performers on the evening were the Durham University Big Band and the Durham University Light Opera Group who performed their music with gusto and zip.

undefined In deep discussion

The evening was a tremendous success and the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Stuart Corbridge, thanked everyone for joining him and hoped to continue the special partnerships between Durham University and Local authorities for years to come.


Wednesday 14 June 2017

Attended Teesside University’s Gifted and Talented Science and Technology event at the Curve Building, Teesside University Middlesbrough

 undefinedProject winners

Attended the MCS Projects Ltd  Gifted and Talented Science and Technology event at the Teesside University at Campus Heart in Middlesbrough.

We were warmly welcomed by Miss Hannah Truscott the MSC Event Leader and showed us around the student’s classrooms. This was to view the activities which the year 8 and 9 students were undertaking in mixed school teams from across Darlington, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Stockton. Over the course of the day the students participated in three of four challenges: vehicle building, robotics, Efit using police forensic software, and medical diagnostics. These were judged by the teams of university students who lead the activities on planning, collaboration and outcome. 


Robotic project.

MCS Projects Ltd aims to inspire young people and raise their enthusiasm for studying the STEM subjects, encouraging them to think about taking them at university and into careers in engineering. MCS Projects have been arranging these events for more than 10 years and they are now available to schools across the country. They have held an event for Teesside schools for a number of years. The overall winning team progresses to a regional final at the University of Sheffield in January 2018.

It was a bit of a déjà vu for me, in as much I was coming back to my old college location, as I started my career development in engineering here, over 50 years ago at Constantine College as it was known in those days.

I thanked all the young students who had taken part in the projects and hoped that they would continue to be as enthusiastic about engineering in the future, when considering a career, as they had been about engineering during the projects. There are great opportunities for them to develop their talents in Engineering once leaving university and take on the challenges that are in front of them today. From my point of view engineering has given me a wonderful experience over the years, and I would do it all over again.

I thanked all of those who were involved in the organisation of the event for their dedication and enthusiasm, inspiring a future generation of engineers.


Thursday 15 June 2017

Attended the Civic Opening of the Georgian Theatre at Green Dragon Yard, Stockton on Tees

undefined Georgian Theatre - Green Dragon Yard Stockton on Tees.

On behalf of myself and the Mayoress, we were delighted to be invited to the opening of the newly refurbished Georgian Theatre in the heart of the Stockton Cultural Quarter.

Paul Burns welcomed the guests to the venue and outlined the purpose of the event and mentioned that BBC Music Day taking place in the venue, as well as the two members of the Shadows that were arriving later in the day for the celebrations.

Niall Hammond, Heritage Lottery Fund (HFL) Committee Member for the North East, talked about Stockton’s culture and heritage, including HLF Investment, other lottery players and thanked THI Forum, Stockton Borough Council and Tees Music Alliance for their invaluable support.

Stockton’s Georgian Theatre, which is operated by Tees Music Alliance, has undergone a £14 million refurbishment and expansion into the neighbouring former Courtyard building, enabling an increased venue capacity of 300 and now offering larger and modern bar areas where customers can socialise and enjoy food and drinks.


Paul Burns – Welcoming Guests 


Niall Hammond - HLF Investment N/E

The event celebrated the completion of this Heritage Lottery Fund supported project, which has brought together two historic listed buildings, the Georgian Theatre and the former Courtyard Hotel. This former warehouse has a rich heritage; originally used as one of Stockton’s many warehouses for the town’s bustling trade, it has served grocers and tea dealers, hatters and confectionery makers, latterly in use as ‘The Courtyard Hotel’ before falling vacant.

The Georgian Theatre is the oldest surviving Georgian theatre in the country, and interestingly it started its life in 1564 as a tithe barn. In 1766, with a new owner and following alterations, the building became the ‘Oxford Road Playhouse’, a theatre for local and travelling productions. It has had many other names throughout the years such as: The Theatre Royal, Stockton Theatre, Oxford Music Hall, Oxford Theatre of Varieties and Royal Concert Hall.

For much of the 20th century, it housed J.F.Smith and Co, makers of the local Nebo Confectionery, before closing in 1972. After it fell into disrepair, Stockton Borough Council purchased and renovated the building for community use, until in 1993 it was handed over to the Stockton Music and Arts Collective, now known as the Tees Music Alliance.

Today was about celebrating the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stockton Borough Council funded development scheme, which has linked the theatre to the former Courtyard Hotel providing a combined facility with increased audience capacity in the theatre of up to 300 people; a larger bar serving members of the public and event customers; improved dressing room and toilet facilities supporting a food offer. In addition the second floor of the warehouse now forms an office base for Tees Music Alliance.

undefined The Theatre for a variety of entertainment including live bands, jazz, folk and even small plays.

I thanked all the people and organisations who had worked together to safeguard and conserve these historic listed buildings including building contractors, Parkinson’s, SPA Architects and the THI Forum, the latter of whom have been actively involved in the towns centre’s heritage regeneration over the past decade. Special thanks also go to the Heritage Lottery Fund who, through partnership with the Council via Central Stockton Townscape Heritage Initiative Grant, awarded £413k funding towards the £1.4m project.

Mr Niall Hammond and myself then had the distinction to unveil the plaque which was much appreciated.

Paul Burns also thanked the guests for their support and attendance and we were offered to tour the buildings at our leisure.


Attended the MJ Awards Ceremony at London Hilton Hotel.

undefined Members of Stockton Borough Council at the Awards Ceremony.

I had the privilege of attending the Annual MJ Achievement Awards at the Hilton Hotel in London. I was joined by our Chief executive, the Council Leader, members from across the parties and employees, including the Chairs and Vice Chairs of some of our staff forum groups. We were proud to represent the Council as one of only 6 Councils from across the country to be short listed for the prestigious “ Local Authority of the Year award and were pleased to note that we were the only highly recommended entry in the category, effectively making us runner up.

The judges were impressed by the scale of innovation displayed in the entries and by the sheer breadth of local authority services. As ever they had a difficult task selecting the finalists and commended from a very strong selection of entries and they emphasise their thanks to all those local authorities who devoted time and effort to entering the awards, despite ongoing pressures.

The presenter of the awards for the evening was Joanna Lumley OBE who is one of Britain’s favourite actresses of stage, TV and screen. She is also known for her support for Gurkhas, the exiled Tibetan people, and government the Kondha indigenous people of India and the Prospect Burma charity which offers grants to Burmese students. I was impressed with her exuberant and heart felt warmth to the evening’s celebration, she was a good orator with an excellent sense of humour. 


Joanna Lumley OBE – Presenter and Award Giver.

Although not the winner, in fact it was won by the City of Wolverhampton

Council, but let me say that it was a fantastic result being named second best Local Authority in the country, an achievement that should be recognised by the people of this borough. It is a ringing endorsement of the ‘can do’ attitude of our employees, the strong working relationships between elected members and officers and our collective focus on serving people of Stockton Borough.

We have talked about the skills and dedication of our employees and elected members, which has seen us recognised as a high performing council for many years. This is further recognition of our success and we are delighted to receive this accolade.

Although we were disappointed on the night, it was noted that there was always next year to look forward to.


Friday 16 June 2017

Attended the Mayors Charity Golf Day at Wynyard Golf Club


Rocket launch start.

After dashing back from the Award Ceremony in London we quickly made our entrance to the start of my Mayors Charity Golf Day at Wynyard Golf Club.

There were 24 teams entered this year and all proceeds going to my chosen charities namely:

  • Cleveland Alzheimer’s Residential Care, which runs three centres – Kildale Care Home, Allison House and an outreach day centre, as well as running an advocacy service and Dementia friendly service in Stockton.
  • Meningitis Now, the only charity that is dedicated to fighting Meningitis in the UK.
  • Motor Neurons Disease Association, there is currently no cure for the disease and six people die from it each day in the UK.

There was a rocket launch to start the play as teams started at every 18 hole on the course, fortunately it was a fine day a bit windy but very playable.

undefined Competing team at Wynyard.

The winning team on the day were Neasham Refrigeration & Catering who said that they had a great time and were looking forward to their lunch.


  I congratulated the winning team for their outstanding performance and thanked Chris Mounter and his team at Wynyard Golf Club for their invaluable support that we have each year with this event. We also thanked the serving staff for the excellent food and service and all of the teams for their significant support in helping us raise money for our charities.

Lastly but not least It’s thanks Jas, PA to the Chief Executive, for her impeccable organisation and invaluable time putting together this event together, making it a great success.

undefined Wynyard Course looking good on the charity day.


Saturday 17 June 2017

Attended the Royal British Legion Norther Bike Ride at the TA Centre, Coulby Newham

undefined Home at last from a 100 mile tour over the yorkshire dales.

For the second year in succession it was a privilege and an honour to be invited to the second year of the Royal British Legion Northern Ride, to champion the great work that is being done to support members of the Royal Navy, Reservists and their families.

Bringing themselves together with the community spirit, and for what they have done on the day, has given credence to what they are really all about, their determination, their toil, their sweat and and those that had fallen their blood and tears shows how resolute they were in raising the profile and awareness and helping to raise funds for the nominated charities, those being: Royal British Legion, SSAFA and Phoenix House, providing re-habilitation for veterans and their families at Catterick Garrison, knowing that people can live with the dignity and contentment for the rest of their days.


A special award to a rider who fought off cancer to be at the Northern Ride. 


There were riders from all over the country at the event, this one was from France.

 I paid tribute to Craig and Neil and their team for the hard work and willpower in organising this great charity event, to the British Legion Billingham branch for being in attendance, to the catering staff for the buffet that was provided but last and not least to the riders, without them on the day the event would not be possible and it was thanks to everyone.


Over 130 riders set out on the day’s tour to champion the cause. I believe all returned some with cuts and bruises but no lasting injuries.