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What's been happening

We want you to know what's going on in your town.

On this page, you can read the latest news about Middlesbrough and the council, and how it affects you as a young person.

A girl at a Fun Shack

Fun Shack and giant inflatable theme park coming to Middlesbrough

A huge new soft play centre and inflatable theme park will open in Middlesbrough town centre this summer.

A business called the Fun Shack Group is investing £2.5m to transform the former Wilko shop in Captain Cook Square.

Building work has already started to transform the top floor into a Fun Shack indoor play centre.

It will be the company’s first soft play to open in a town or city centre. It will feature rope bridges, crawl tunnels and an electronic football pitch, alongside other favourites including trampolines, a cannonball arena, rubber dinghy slides and bumper buggies.

There are also plans for an large, separate area for toddlers and a sensory area.

On the ground floor, InflateSpace, a giant indoor inflatable theme park, will open. It's the first inflatable fun park in Teesside and will feature slides, assault courses, wipeout challenges, bungee ropes and a competitive sports zone.

The new business will create around 80 new jobs.

Read the full story here.

How young people helped keep a museum open

Every year, Middlesbrough Council has to make sure it has enough money to spend on its services for the year ahead.

These services include things like looking after children in care and making sure adults with special needs are taken care of properly.

When the council set its budget, it decided that it would make changes to how it collects rubbish from your house to try and avoid running out of money.

The plans weren't popular with everyone in Middlesbrough, but the changes have been agreed and will see your black rubbish bin (basically, everything in your house that couldn't be recycled) every fortnight instead of every week.

It also decided to charge households £40 a year to remove garden waste - things like your grass cuttings, twigs and leaves.

Another plan to try and save money was to start charging people to park at Stewart Park, and to close down the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum inside the park.

But Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke and the group of councillors he has chosen to make big decisions in the town listened to people's concerns and decided not to go ahead with the plan.

Instead, the museum has now reopened for the summer season - although the council is looking for someone else to come and run it, to save the council money in the future.

While Mayor Cooke was making his decision, a group of children at Thornaby's Village Primary School wrote letters to him to ask for the museum to remain open.

He later went to visit the children at the school, and thanked them for their letters.

He said: Mayor Cooke said: “As politicians we often have to make difficult decisions.

“I was hugely impressed with the range and quality of the letters from the young people at the Village Primary, and it’s great that they feel so strongly about the things they value.

“It just goes to show that if you put pen to paper, your voice can and will be heard, and these young people are a credit to their school.”

Read the full story here.
Pupils at Village Primary School with Mayor Chris Cooke
Junior Parkrun at Albert Park

Young athletes can keep fit at new Junior Parkrun

Young athletes are giving the grown-ups a run for their money every week at a new run designed for children and teenagers.

A Junior Parkrun has been launched at Albert Park for people aged four to 14 every Sunday morning. Adults have their own Parkrun on a Saturday morning.

After more than a dozen events, the new Junior Parkrun now attracts more than 40 runners every week. It starts at 9am at the fountain in the centre of Albert Park.

Breckon Hill Primary school teacher Jonathan Towers came up with the idea, and runs it with the help of Middlesbrough Council’s Parks and Public Health teams.

Jonathan, who is the Race Director, said: “The Junior Parkrun designed to be a family friendly community event that welcomes people of all ages to walk, jog, run, volunteer and have fun.

“We look forward to welcoming new and returning participants along with their families each week who always bring smiles and laughter.

“A special thank you also goes out to all our volunteers who not only make this event possible but also ensure the event has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.”

Read the full story here.

Meet Middlesbrough's mayor, Chris Cooke

Middlesbrough Council is slightly different to some others in England because the people of the town chooses councillors for their small area, PLUS the political leader for the whole town.

In other areas, people vote for their councillors who then choose their own leader.

But in Middlesbrough, Chris Cooke was directly elected by voters, beating the former mayor Andy Preston in May.

Mayor Cooke represents the Labour Party, and was a councillor in the Newport area of town before he stood for mayor.

He grew up and went to school in South Bank and spent time in the care system as a teenager, before getting into politics in his 20s.

Setting out his priorities for his time as mayor in an interview after his election, he said: “Make sure services work for everyone and are accessible for everyone.

“It’s about making sure the council is seen as an organisation that helps people and puts them first.

“The best place to start is by raising the life chances of the most vulnerable in our society so we can all grow together.”

Read the full interview with the new mayor here.
Mayor of Middlesbrough Chris Cooke

Middlesbrough to welcome new Eton College

The world-famous Eton College will open a new college in Middlesbrough.

Eton has been attended by Prime Ministers and members of the Royal Family.

It has entered into a partnership with an academy trust called Star Academies to open three new colleges in England. One of them will be in our town.

Work is still going on behind the scenes, but it's hoped it will be open in the next couple of years.

The college says it will focus on giving opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and help them to achieve places at the UK’s best universities.

Middlesbrough already has excellent colleges and sixth forms, with tens of thousands off young people currently studying in the town at places like Middlesbrough College, Teesside University and the Northern School of Art.

Middlesbrough's Mayor Chris Cooke said: “Young people around the Middlesbrough area already have a fantastic range of options for further education and the addition of Eton Teesside further strengthens our offer."

Find out more about this story by clicking here.

How we look after children in Middlesbrough

Middlesbrough Council’s Children’s Services department is responsible for supporting and protecting vulnerable children in the town, including those who need to go into care.

In 2019, the service was inspected by Ofsted who said it was ‘inadequate’, the lowest rating of the four it could give.

In 2023, Ofsted visited Middlesbrough again and produced a new report about how well the service was performing and improved its rating by one to ‘requires improvement’.

In its report, this is a flavour of what Ofsted said:

• Since the last inspection in 2019, senior leaders in the council have made improvements in all areas of support to children in their families.

• Senior managers need to continue to work at keeping social workers working for them in Middlesbrough. This will mean that children and families do not have too many changes of social worker. Inspectors saw that when families had the same social worker for a long time the changes they could help families make happened quickly and children were able to build good relationships with their social worker.

• Inspectors found that when people have worries about children, social workers and managers act quickly to give them support or take action to make sure that children are safe.

• They found that social workers know the children they support well but that the plans they write need to be better at explaining what needs to happen to keep children safe.

• When children cannot stay at home safely, social workers and managers make decisions much more quickly now to make sure they can live with other family members or foster carers. This is a big improvement in Middlesbrough.

• Most of the children in care in Middlesbrough are settled and making progress. The council needs to improve how they listen to children in care and young people leaving care and involve them in making decsions about what care looks like and how the council could improve this.

Read the full story here.
Middlesbrough Town Hall