Councillor Paul Watson became Leader of the Council in May 2008, after previously serving as Deputy Leader since May 2006.

Now, through his blog, he aims to communicate directly with you to give an insight into what is happening in Sunderland as well as the issues and challenges that face the city. With so much going on in the city, he wants to keep you informed about how much work the council is doing but also wants to hear from you.

This is your chance to have your say so please feel free to get in touch.

Welcome to my blog.

As I write this week's blog, preparations are well underway for the annual State of the City event which will be held later this month on Tuesday 28 October at the Stadium of Light. The theme of this year's event is 'supporting the city's economic growth and related skills and health issues.'

As in previous years, the evening is an opportunity to hear about what the Council and its partners are currently working towards and to ask questions of the panel which alongside me will also include:

  • Dr Dave Smith, Chief Executive of the City Council
  • Anne Isherwood, Principal of Sunderland College
  • Ken Bremner, Chief Executive of City Hospitals Sunderland, and
  • Paul Woolston, Chair of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership

And we are extremely grateful to the BBC's Richard Moss for once again agreeing to be the host for this year's event.

Doors open at 5.30pm for a 6pm start with the main event finishing at approximately 8pm. There will then be an opportunity for those attending to discuss issues individually with the relevant councillors.

As I've said in the past, State of the City is one of the events that I look forward to most in the council calendar, providing me and my fellow members with the opportunity to hear what local people have to say about the main issues for the city both now and in the future.

It always proves to be an interesting and informative event and anyone interested in finding out more can do so via the Your city...your say link below.

You can register to attend by using the contact details at the bottom of this page. If you can't get along on the evening, you can watch the event live via the website.

You can also submit questions to the panel in advance, by using the email address below. The three 'most asked' questions will be answered at the start of the night before questions are taken from the floor.

The panel and I are really looking forward to hearing your questions and views and we look forward to another interesting debate.

Cllr Paul Watson