Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Week Commencing 16 October 2017

Monday 16 October 2017

Attended the Town and Gown Dinner at the Londonderry Room in Wynyard Hall, Stockton



Town and Gown – A special relationship


It was a privilege and a pleasure to welcome everyone to the lovely venue for the latest ‘Town and Gown’ dinner to officially recognise and celebrate the close relationship between our organisations.

In my address I noted that there are crucial factors which unite us, and provide the momentum to drive us forward. We share a passion about what we do and the people we serve, seeking to enrich their lives; we both pursue performance to the highest standards possible, seeking to be the best we can be; we both develop successful partnerships that make things happen.

These crucial factors have brought us to where we are today, and will enable us to tackle the challenges and tough decisions that lay ahead.

Despite times of unprecedented change, our passion to provide this community with the best services possible has not diminished or weakened. Instead, it has sharpened our focus to remain as leaders of public sector delivery, protecting the areas and people most in need; whilst also remaining very ambitious for the borough. We have continued to invest in our staff through our Shaping a Bright Future Programme which is helping us to meet the challenges of the 21 Century.

Durham University’s passion for what they do, and those that serve, is clearly demonstrated through the fantastic facilities and support offered to their students and staff, helping them realise their academic and life potential; including the numerous non-academic opportunities to excel through different experiences and activities, both inside and outside the university.

Durham’s recent 10 year strategy also highlights their determination and dedication to continue leading the way in higher education, as one of the best in the world. This is the start of perhaps the most radical makeover in their history, and has meant that the university too, have to make difficult decisions and changes.

These have included their vision for the re-purposing of Queens Campus into an International Study Centre. We are delighted to see that it is already well on its way to writing a new chapter in the University’s history. The University can be assured that the Council will continue to provide whatever help and support we can, to ensure the Study Centre’s ongoing success.

The key factor in our Town and ‘Gown relationship’, is our pursuit of the highest performance standards possible, we both want to be ‘’the best’’. The Council’s commitment to become ‘the best’ was recognised and celebrated at two of the most prestigious local government award ceremonies in 2017, the Municipal Journal (MJ) Achievement Awards; and the ‘Association of Public Service Awards’ (APSE).

At the MJ Awards, the Council was one of only six finalists considered for the title ‘Local Authority of the Year’, finishing runner up. Then at the recent APSE Awards, we were again shortlisted for the coveted ‘Council of the Year’. We were also finalist in 8 other categories, winning the ‘Best Service Team’ category.

These awards are a clear endorsement from our peers that we have a strong focus on serving our borough, and highlight the success across the whole organisation.

Moving onto the University’s pursuits of the highest performance standards, what more can be left to say?

They are at the top end of every type of University ‘league table’ in the UK, Europe and globally since they began making league tables, which is a fitting testament to their long history of outstanding performance in both teaching and research.

As the university pursue the challenging goal of over 40% growth over the next 10 years, there is plenty of evidence to show that this enormous milestone will be achieved, from their investment in schemes to increase applications from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds to the successful launch of the International Study Centre, which is helping to expand and strengthen their global reach.

The key factor we share in our relationship is the ability to develop effective partnerships that make things happen. We are both involved in a number of major development and improvement projects that would not be possible without a commitment to build strong, effective partnerships that deliver results.

For the Council, these innovative partnerships provide an exciting future as we look forward to the successes of the Hampton by Hilton Hotel, the Globe, specialist housing developments, the new Ingleby Leisure Centre, even a Crematorium, and of course, the University’s International Study Centre.

The University also has a very exciting future, as they implement the proposals that will fundamentally change their size, shape and mission. As their strategy declares:

“Durham is so much more than a leading research-intensive university. They are a collegiate university, an historic university, a university that values the wider student experience as much as they value education and research”.

We really appreciate the significant ongoing contribution the university makes to our borough, as we contribute to invest in its long term future, creating jobs, facilities and opportunities for residents, businesses and future generations.

Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice Chancellor & Warden of Durham University responded by confirming, the momentum that drives us forward through  Passion, Performance and Partnerships are the crucial factors that bind and unite us, and we will tackle the tough challenges and decisions that lay ahead of us and our bond will not be broken.

We thanked Stuart Corbridge for his kind remarks and all who attended.

A toast was made to Durham University to let us never not lose our passion, but use it to continue pursuing success and excellence together!


Town and Gown – In deep discussion


Thursday 19 October 2017

Attended Diwali Celebrations at Abby Hill Academy in Ketton Road, Stockton on Tees


With staff at Abbey Hill Academy

Spent the morning at Abbey Hill Academy and were inspired by this magical place where young people aged between 11 to 16 who have learning difficulties and disabilities, learn, grow inspire and achieve.

We were welcomed by Catherine Jackson who walked us around the school and observed craft workshops  and students taking part in activities related to the culture and traditions of the Hindu religion  Diwali, including dance, art and cookery. We had a fantastic time at Abbey Hill and were encouraged by the positive attitude of the students in developing their learning skills and activities related to Diwali.

It was with a little caution that we tried some of their home cooking but were well pleased by the presentation and taste, it was superb.  Looking around the classrooms we observed a number of collages on the walls the students had developed, with modern themes such as their Prom night and Grease form the musical and many more. They are obviously progressing their artistic talents for the better. 


Grease collage – produced by and enacted by the students



Having a friendly chat with a pal we found in the playground



Students Prom’s collage


Thursday 19 October 2017

Attended the Mayor of Shildon’s Charity evening at Shildon Civic Hall in Civic Square, Main Street, Shildon


Shirley welcoming everyone to the 60’s charity evening

It was a pleasure to be in the company of the Mayor of Shildon, Shirley Quinn and her husband Peter Quinn who were raising funds for their nominated charities. Raffle prizes were drawn in aid of the following Mayors causes:

  • Royal British Legion, Shildon Branch
  • The Sanctuary Counselling Service
  • New Year Event for the Elderly

We were entertained by a girl group of skaters called – Spectrum who performed well with their twists, turns and loops giving the audience a welcoming show. The evenings other entertainment were ‘The Fabs, who performed their 60’s routine with excellent rock and roll numbers.

The civic guests gave it what they had on the dance floor and thoroughly enjoyed the evening until closing time. We thanked Shirley and Peter for a great evening and wished them well in their ongoing charity appeal.


Shirley with the skaters – Spectrum


The group – The Fabs


Friday 20 October 2017

Attended the Mayor of Spennymoor’s Charity Celidhbury at Spennymoor Town Hall, High Street, County Durham


Spennymoor Town Council Crest

At the request of the Town Mayor, Councillor Ian Machin we attended Spennymoor’s Charity Celidhbury in the Town Hall, High Street, Spennymoor. The event was to raise money and awareness for the Mayors chosen charities, the 1 Byers Green Scouts Group and Spennymoor Mining Museum.

The entertainment was provided by the Joint Stock Ceilidh Band with a caller who instructed you through each dance move. The civics were eager to join in the dance reals, so off with the chains and away we went. Being out of practice with the complications of the dances, it took some time to get used to the arrangements, but after a while it got easier and were in full flow by the time the evening came to an end.

The giant Panda Draw made significant amount money which helped to raise the profile of the Mayors charity event.

We thanked Ian for putting on a tremendous event which was enjoyed by the many that attended, a lot of civics were out of breath at the end of the night but they said they had a wonderful time.


Joint Stock Ceilidh Band


In full swing with the folk dances


Saturday 21 October 2017

Attended the Ridings of Yarm Fair


Bareback riding through Yarm High Street

At the request of Mr T. Chapman Acting town clerk of Yarm Town Council, we had the pleasure to be invited to the Ridings of Yarm Fair. A fair is held in the high Street of Yarm every year in the third week of October. It starts on the Tuesday evening and lasts until Saturday night. A century ago the fair was famous for the sale of cheese and livestock but today it largely a fun fair. The tradition of ‘Flashing of the Horses’ is still in existence where young men ride horses bareback up and down the street on the Saturday.

Honoured guests met in the vicinity of the dodgems for the opening ceremony of the Ridings of Yarm Fair event. The Ridings were given a blessing after which honoured guests were transported by traction engine down the high Street, along Bridge Street, West Street, and Bentley Wynd, before returning to the High Street. Along the way at certain intervals a horn was sounded then a proclamation was read out as part of its history. Traditional Ridings then took place along the High Street which was interesting and a welcoming site, how the young men kept on the horse at such speed I don’t know.

We then made our way to the Yarm Fellowship Hall for lunch where speeches were made by honoured guests.

We thanked Yarm Town Council for giving us the opportunity to be part of the ceremony which was an enlightenment and very enjoyable event. 


Blessing of the Ridings of Yarm Fair


Fun riders ready for action


A pair of beautiful horses


Steam traction engine transportation               


Horse drawn carriage pulling guests


We had a great time


Sunday 22 October 2017

Attended the Captain Cook Commemorative Service at St Mary’s Parish Church, East Cliff, Whitby


St Mary’s on the East Cliff of Whitby


The bell ringers of St Mary’s – very appealing

On behalf of the Rector, Church Wardens and John Freeman (WDTA Chairman), we were invited to the annual Commemorative Service for James Cook RN FRS at St Mary’s Parish Church, East Cliff, in Whitby.

This was the 33 Annual Service to commemorate the birth of Captain James Cook at The Parish Church of St Mary The Virgin, Whitby. The church is like no other, and the character of Whitby has seeped into its fabric, and it stands as testimony to the independent maritime spirit of the town. Each generation has left its mark on the original 11 century foundation. The building is remarkable for its box pews, triple decker pulpit and Elizabethan communion table, as well as several fascinating details.

For those devoted to St Hilda, it is a place of pilgrimage. 


St Mary’s a remarkable building

The service was led by The Rev Captain Malcolm Jackson, priest of Whitby and Ruswarp.

The Marske Fisherman’s Choir started the service with the song Whitby Lifeboat and One More Fishing Day, followed by the hymn Eternal Father, strong to save. There were Prayers of Penitence followed by the Psalm 119:1 – 16, then a Reading from Ecclesiastes 11.  Hymn O bless the God of Israel was followed by the reading – 2 Timothy 2:1 – 7 then the Fishermen’s Choir sang The Last Farewell.

A Reflection on Captain James Cook was read by Dorothy Clegg then the sermon was delivered by the Rev Malcolm Jackson. The hymn Lead us, heavenly Father, lead us was sung followed by prayers. The Lord’s Prayer was delivered and a collection was taken up during the singing of the hymn O praise the Lord! Praise him in the height.

The final blessing was delivered and the Marske Fisherman’s Choir played and sang the final tune – She Sparkles Like a Diamond, and Billy O’Shea. A fitting tribute to fitting end.

When the procession left the nave of the church we then traveled to West cliff to lay wreaths at Captain Cooks Monument. Civics from across Cleveland, North Yorkshire and delegates from Whitby gathered for the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Captain Cook Statue at West Cliff. We were welcomed by The Rev’d  Michael Gabbett to start the proceedings.

The Fisherman’s Choir sang Jesus Saviour Pilot Me and Beacon Light, this was followed by an Introduction by Harry Collett. There were Blessings and Laying of the Wreaths by the Civic Dignitaries, a fitting tribute to the master seafarer himself.

Final Prayers and Blessing were delivered with the Dismissal to end proceedings.

Although a beautiful sunny day on the West cliff of Whitby the wind sprang through yer bones as if an omen was to heed a seafaring warning, so we did and went back to the Royal Hotel on the west cliff for warm cup of coffee. We thanked John Freeman the chair of Whitby and District Tourism Association for organising the celebrations and making the day so special.


Civics with wreaths to lay


Captain Cook monument at the West Cliff – Whitby