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  1. Updates on Wednesday 4 March 2015

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good evening

That's all for today from BBC Local Live in the North East.

We'll be with you again from 08:00 on Thursday with the latest news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the region. We leave you with this photo Dean Matthews sent us of St Mary's Lighthouse.

St Mary's Lighthouse
Dean Matthews

If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by

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'Clearly frustrated'

A vote in favour of a Teesside town becoming independent from their borough council is "very significant", Stockton South Conservative MP James Wharton said.

In a postal referendum just under 73% of voters

agreed Thornaby should split from Stockton Borough Council.

James Wharton

Mr Wharton said residents were "clearly frustrated with Stockton Council and the way they do things".

"A lot of positive things are happening, but there is also an arrogance that neglects the views of residents in the south of the borough," he said.

Safety scheme for students

A scheme has started to help students in County Durham get home safe following a night out.

The Get Home Safe Scheme helps vulnerable students who have run out of or have no access to money to get home safely using taxis.

River Wear, Durham

It comes after

Durham University students took up roles as volunteer wardens in an effort to prevent further student deaths in the River Wear following the deaths of Sope Peters, Luke Pearce and Euan Coulthard who had all been out drinking.

'Utterly betrayed'

Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond says he will press the Indian authorities to allow six British men, including Nick Dunn from Ashington, Northumberland, to return home.

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said the men felt "betrayed" by the government's lack of help in their "hour of need".

Nick Dunn

He said: "These six British soldiers all fought for the British Army on the front. They feel utterly betrayed by the government because of what they see as a lack of assistance in their hour or need.

"We must be able to do something to get these people home. We must redouble our efforts."

NUFC in facts and figures

Here's the key Newcastle United stats ahead of the Manchester United match tonight:

  • Victory would give the Magpies back-to-back wins for the first time since November.
  • Papiss Cisse has averaged a Premier League goal every 84 minutes this season - the best record in the top flight among players with at least four goals.
  • Newcastle have scored a league-high 69% of their goals in the second half this season.
  • Manchester United have won their last two games away to Newcastle, scoring a combined seven goals without reply.
  • They have suffered just one defeat in their last 11 trips to St James' Park (W8, D2).

Ex-head in court over sex offences

A former head teacher and founder of a children's charity has appeared in court on child sex abuse charges.

Colin Gregg, 73, from Gosforth, Newcastle, appeared before Newcastle magistrates over 26 counts of indecent assault dating from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Mr Gregg, son of the Greggs bakery founder, was head of the former King's School in Tynemouth and set up the North East Children's Cancer Run.

He was given unconditional bail and will appear at Newcastle Crown Court on 18 March.

Restricted supply of 'big sheds'

The Journal


As the North East industrial property market continues to gather pace, the

region faces a dearth of big sheds, leaving the outlook for attracting new, large job-creating companies restricted by a shortage of suitable buildings.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 17:00 are:

Newcastle v Manchester United

Newcastle's Massadio Haidara is almost certain to miss out with a knee injury in the match against Man United at St James' Park tonight, with Ryan Taylor set to deputise.

Remy Cabella remains injured, while Jack Colback completes a two-game ban.

Manchester United defenders Phil Jones and Luke Shaw return after missing the win against Sunderland through illness and injury respectively.

Accident on B6317

BBC Travel reports there's been an accident on the B6317 between B6313 Rectory Lane Whickham and Broom Lane Gateshead.

Rescued seal pups released

A pair of rescued seal pups have been released back into the wild after being nursed back to health at Tynemouth Blue Reef Aquarium's Marine Rescue Centre.

Blue Reef

The grey seal pups, both starving, dehydrated and very underweight, were rescued in January after they were found abandoned on the Northumberland coastline.

Caitlin Shields from the aquarium said: "It's an amazing feeling when you watch the pups return to the wild. "They took a couple of seconds to adjust to their surroundings after being released out of the kennels and then went straight into the water."

Dementia gallery

Jon Harle and Anne Leuchars

BBC Newcastle

From 16:00 on

BBC Newcastle Jon Harle and Anne Leuchars find out how a Gateshead care home is creating a gallery to help patients with dementia.

Care with Enhanced Care Ltd

They're displaying a series of photos ranging from industrial scenes to old high street shops.

Plea for WW1 memorial

The Shields Gazette

The grandson of a soldier killed in World War One is

calling for those killed in action to have their sacrifice recognised.

Alan Forrester says he has been left dismayed and angered after discovering the names of those from Jarrow who died fighting for their country do not appear on any of the town's war memorials.

Alan Forrester
Shields Gazette

Flood defence scheme completed

Flood defences have been upgraded in a County Durham town.

The Environment Agency has completed a £250,000 project to reduce the risk of flooding from the River Wear in Stanhope.

Improved flood wall at Stanhope
Environment Agency

The raising and improving of existing defences would help prevent about 100 homes being damaged, the agency said.

Stanhope has had several floods in the past two decades. In January 1995, 21 properties were flooded following heavy rain.

Sheep sale raises cash for charity

A Consett farmer has sold five sheep to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) who flew to his aid following an accident.

Colin Whitfield, 58, of Consett, County Durham, was treated by GNAAS medics after falling through a roof in 2009.

Colin Whitfield

Mr Whitfield donated the sale of his five texel crosses, which raised £500, for the "vital life-saving" organisation.

My thoughts on NUFC v Man Utd

Mark Lawrenson

Football analyst

Newcastle interim manager John Carver came up with a very good line at the weekend when he said he is not a supply teacher, meaning he is thinking about the job long-term.

But even the Magpies' win over Aston Villa did not make me think he is going to keep it beyond the end of the season.

Manchester United were beaten by Swansea in their last away game and

I don't think they will find it easy at St James' Park either.
My prediction: 1-1

Inquest to open

The Chronicle

The coroner will today open an inquest into the death of a

popular rowing coach who died after falling into the River Wear in Durham.

Bill Grant

Respected oarsman Bill Grant, from, Cleadon in Sunderland, was coaching a rowing crew when he fell off his bicycle and plunged into the water on Saturday morning.

Redcar council tax cut

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council has approved a 1% cut in council tax.

The cut is the first in the council's history and means that a Band D property will save £13.95 in the 2015-16 financial year.

Redcar vertical pier
Redcar & Cleveland Council

Council leader Mary Lanigan said: "I know that things are tough for people in our borough and this cut is really good news for our residents."

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 14:00 are:

Appeal over missing teenager

Police are appealing for help to trace a missing Newcastle teenager. Yuri Gomes was last seen leaving Newcastle College at about 13:30 on 27 February.

The 16-year-old is slim, 6ft 1in with short black hair. He was wearing trainers, black jeans and a black zip-up hoodie with a white Nike logo on the chest.

Northumbria Police say he had been staying in the Whitley Bay area, however he lives in Newcastle.

Protecting Marsden Lime Kilns

The Shields Gazette

Archaeology students are

working on the long-term protection of a heritage site.

Shields Gazette

Eight undergraduates from Newcastle University went along to Marsden Lime Kilns, Whitburn to start work on developing a long-term conservation and care plan.

Bruce and Poyet like "two deers"

BBC Radio 5 live

Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet's spat should not be taken too seriously, says BBC Sport's Conor McNamara.

Conor was commentating on the 1-1 draw between Hull and Sunderland for Match of the Day.

"We all chuckled because it rarely becomes serious. Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet were like two deers in the field, stags clashing with their antlers," Conor tells BBC Radio 5 live.

"It began with a spilt drink, a big ice bucket which Poyet kicked over. Because these drinks went over, even the ref could hear on the pitch, all the attention went to the technical area.

"Managers are under pressure and it is tiny margins between getting three points, one point and no points. Once managers have picked their teams they are powerless and it is that frustration that spills over."

Gin, gin, gin, gin...

The North East's Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have announced they're going on tour in the autumn.

Their Poignant Moments show will feature some of their best-loved characters and sketches from their 25-year career.

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer

A total of 14 dates have been announced, with the pair coming to Newcastle City Hall on 12 November.

Question over minimum wage

Sunderland Labour MP Julie Elliot used her opportunity at PMQs to criticise the government over what she sees as its failure on the national minimum wage.

David Cameron at PMQs today

That prompted David Cameron to defend his record in this area, citing steps taken to enhance enforcement of the law.

Follow live reaction here.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 12:00 are:

Photo of alleged Borneo killler

Zulkipli Abdullah denies murdering the students. He faces a sentence of death by hanging if convicted. The trial continues.

Zulkipli Abdullah

'I punched him and he fell down'

The statement to the court ends with Mr Abdullah saying he punched one of the students but did not stab him, and that it's "not fair" only he is facing charges over their deaths.

End of statement

'I did not smell the blood'

His statement goes on to say that if he had stabbed someone, he "would not have gone back to my house to sleep".

Statement of alleged killer

'Bigger and stronger than me'

This is the court statement from Zulkipli Abdullah, who is accused of stabbing Newcastle University students Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger following an argument at a bar in Borneo in August.

Court statement

'Unemployment down in Hexham'

A question from Hexham Conservative MP Guy Opperman at PMQs provides David Cameron with a rather helpful opportunity to set out his "long-term economic plan" for the North East. He goes on to list of what he says are the government's economic achievements.

Follow live coverage here.

Guy Opperman

India case inquiry

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is to press the Indian authorities to allow six British men to return home.

Nick Dunn

Hugo Swire, a Foreign Office minister, confirmed further talks will take place next week about the men who were arrested in October 2013 over illegally possessing weapons while working for a private US-owned ship.

He added emergency travel documents were issued to three of the men last month but they still require permission from the Indian authorities before they can leave the country.

Family 'upset' over murder charge

The parents of a Malaysian fishmonger accused of murdering two Newcastle University medical students in Borneo say they are "upset" that only their son has been charged over the killings.

Neil Dalton, left, and Aidan Brunger
Neil Dalton, left, and Aidan Brunger were in the last few days of a six-week medical placement

Zulkipli Abdullah is accused of stabbing Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger following an argument at a bar in August.

His family, including his wife and young children, showed up at Kuching High Court today for the first day of his defence.

His mother, Fatimah Sebli, told the BBC she "did not believe" her son killed two foreigners, "bigger than him, on his own".

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 12:00 are:

Thornaby votes to split from council

Residents in a Teesside town have

voted in favour of becoming independent from their borough council.

In a postal referendum just under 73% of voters agreed Thornaby should split from Stockton Borough Council.

Thornaby Town Hall

The ward has a population of about 25,000, of which 17,461 were eligible to vote and 5,669 did so.

Borneo murder 'impossible'

A Malaysian man accused of

murdering two Newcastle University medical students has told a court in Borneo that it was "impossible" for him to kill the two British men.

Neil Dalton, left, and Aidan Brunger

Fishmonger Zulkipli Abdullah is accused of stabbing Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger in August after an argument at a bar.

Mr Zulkipli admitted in an unsworn statement from the dock that he and two others "ganged up" on the British men, but insisted that he only "punched one of them" and did not "use a knife".

He said it was "unfair" for him to be the only one charged in the killings. If convicted, Mr Zulkipli will be given a mandatory death sentence by hanging.

Poyet on Johnson

Gus Poyet was asked about Adam Johnson

following Sunderland's 1-1 draw with Hull City.

Adam Johnson
Getty Images

The Sunderland winger was arrested and bailed on Monday on suspicion of having sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl and subsequently suspended by the club "pending the outcome of a police investigation".

Poyet said: "The only thing I can tell you is that it was a very difficult day yesterday. Very difficult day. I never had one like that, very difficult."