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  1. Updates on Thursday 12 March 2015
  2. News, sport, travel and weather updates return from 08:00 on Friday

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Good evening

BBC Local Live has finished for the day. We'll be back with more news, sport, travel and weather from 08:00 on Friday.

Outbreaks of rain overnight

Staying mostly cloudy with

outbreaks of rain overnight, perhaps the odd heavier burst, especially on the hills. As temperatures fall, there is a risk of some sleet or snow over the hills.

Afghanistan deaths to be commemorated

Carol Malia

BBC Look North presenter

On Look North this evening I'll be talking to the families from our region who lost loved ones in the war in Afghanistan and are travelling to London for a service of commemoration.

Bridge closure alert

The Redheugh Bridge will be closed to traffic this Sunday to allow essential annual maintenance work to be carried out.

Gateshead Council said diversion signs will direct motorists onto the Tyne Bridge during the 24-hour closure from 06:00.

Mum's anger at denied school places

The Gazette

A mum has described school place allocation as "completely random" after her son was

denied a place at all three of his choices.

MacKenzie Kirwan

Mackenzie Kirwan, 11, will have to leave most of his classmates from Easterside Primary School behind to attend Outwood Academy in Acklam.

Cars targeted in Bedlington

Northumbria Police has appealed for information following a spate of car break-ins in Bedlington.

Twelve vehicles were targeted on Sunday night, and a further five on Wednesday into Thursday, all in the Hazelmere Estate area.

Residents have been advised to remove all of their valuables from their cars overnight and make sure parked cars are locked.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 17:00 are:

  • BBC Tees: More than 100 children have been identified as being at risk of exploitation across Middlesbrough and Stockton.
  • BBC Newcastle: A Newcastle hospital was put on standby after a British military worker was diagnosed with Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Further swan deaths

There have been more deaths at a

River Wear swan colony in Chester-le-Street which has already lost 50 birds in two months.

Two more have been found sick and two dead, one after flying to Herrington Country Park about six miles away.

Sick swans

The group of about 130 has been reduced to fewer than 80, the RSPCA has said.

Accident partially blocks Leam Lane

BBC Travel says the A194 Leam Lane in Boldon is partially blocked because of an accident involving a lorry and a car on the roundabout.

Leak forces out care home residents

The Chronicle


Elderly residents are being forced out of a Tyneside care home following a

severe water leak.

More child rape cases going to court

Almost half of all reports of child rape in the Northumbria Police force area result in suspects being charged or summonsed, according to

new figures.

Child rape cases graph
Phil Mawson

The force comes

top of the table with 47% of cases resulting in criminal proceedings.

Essex, Kent and Suffolk forces came bottom, each with 21% of cases resulting in action.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 16:00 are:

  • BBC Tees: More than 100 children have been identified as being at risk of exploitation across Middlesbrough and Stockton.
  • BBC Newcastle: The drug addict who mugged disabled Gateshead pensioner Alan Barnes has been told by prosecutors they believe it was a hate crime.

Flats to make way for family homes

The Shields Gazette

Demolition of outdated blocks of flats in South Tyneside is set to begin.

The six, low-rise blocks at Farding Square, Marsden, South Shields, are due to be cleared to make way for family homes.

Hunt on for escaped prisoner

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

Police are hunting a Tyneside man who has absconded from a prison in Lancashire.

Nigel Dunn

Nigel Dunn, 45, from Gateshead, absconded from HMP Kirkham open prison on 6 March. He was serving a four-year sentence for burglary.

Detectives believe he may have returned to the Gateshead area.

Arrival of prototype high speed trains

Neil Green

BBC Tees


BBC Tees Drive we'll have more on the milestone achieved today by Hitachi, with the arrival of the first prototype high speed trains to be built in Newton Aycliffe.

Hitachi train

The first batch of trains will be going to ScotRail, with production getting under way in January 2016.

Jewellery taken in house raid

BBC Newcastle

Police are investigating an

aggravated burglary in Newcastle last night.

Four men went into a house in Lewis Drive just after 19:00 and threatened the people inside.

They stole jewellery and left in a dark coloured car.

Beowulf filming about to start

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

Oscar-winner William Hurt has been signed up for ITV's new dark ages drama Beowulf, which

begins filming in County Durham and Northumberland later this month.

William Hurt

The Old English poem, which documents the eponymous hero's battles with monsters, is being made into a 13-part drama.

Hurt joins Joanne Whalley in the cast with Kieran Bew, whose previous appearances include shows such as The Bletchley Circle, in the title role.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 15:00 are:

Slow traffic on Gateshead Highway

BBC Travel says there's slow traffic and one lane closed on the A167 Gateshead Highway northbound in Gateshead between the B1296 Old Durham Road junction and the A184 Charles Street junction because of a broken down lorry.

Give us your feedback

We've introduced BBC Local Live, which is written by reporters across the North East, to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place.

Tell us what you think.

Lifeboat crew rescues jet ski pair

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

Two men have been rescued by a

lifeboat crew from Tynemouth this afternoon after getting into difficulties while riding a jet ski off King Edward's Bay.

They were about a mile offshore when they fired a distress flare.

The RNLI said the pair were not seriously hurt and did not require hospital treatment.

Town centre developer to be appointed

The Shields Gazette

A key decision is expected tomorrow which should enable the

revamp of South Shields town centre to finally become a reality.

South Shields redevelopment
Shields Gazette

Members of South Tyneside Council's cabinet will be asked to give consent for its development partner, Muse, to appoint a building contractor for the first phase of the hugely-ambitious £100m project.

Lane closed on A167

BBC Travel

BBC Travel

BBC Travel reports slow traffic and one lane closed on the A167 Gateshead Highway northbound between the B1296 Old Durham Road junction and the A184 Charles Street junction, because of a broken down lorry.

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 14:00 are:

  • BBC Tees: More than 100 children are at risk of exploitation on Teesside, according to a new report
  • BBC Newcastle: The drug addict who mugged disabled Gateshead pensioner Alan Barnes is told by prosecutors they believe it was a hate crime

Newcastle hospital on Ebola alert

BBC Newcastle

The Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle has been put on standby to take in

two British military health workers who it is feared may develop Ebola after working in Sierra Leone.

It comes as three of their colleagues are being flown to London.

One of them has been diagnosed with the virus.

New life for old buildings

Lisa McCormick

BBC Tees

This week on

BBC Tees we're looking at how we can bring new life back to empty buildings in our area.

Today, we see how it's hoped transforming the former Swallow Hotel in Stockton will help boost the high street's economy and how a former Darlington office building is being turned into flats.

Call for 'nuisance tip' closure

Colin Briggs

BBC Look North

On Look North this lunchtime, Blaydon MP Dave Anderson calls for the closure of a rubbish tip which he says has caused years of "nuisance and disturbance" for local residents.

Rubbish in Blaydon

A massive clean-up is under way at the site of the former quarry after high winds blew rubbish from the tip into trees and a nearby nature reserve.

The site, run by Octagon Green Solutions, deals with waste from across the North of England and is blamed for causing noxious smells and traffic problems in the local area.

In the news today

The Gazette

Here's today's front page which features a pub owner who says he's lucky to be alive after a

gas blast ripped the skin from his face and arms.

The Gazette's front page

News on the hour

The top local headlines at 13:00 are:

  • BBC Tees: Industry experts say it's vital plans for a £1bn potash mine near Whitby go ahead
  • BBC Newcastle: The RVI in Newcastle has been put on standby to take in two British military healthworkers who it's feared may develop Ebola after working in Sierra Leone

Jail term 'inevitable'

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

Judge Paul Sloan QC asked the prosecution to produce evidence to back up their hate crime claims within a week.

He told Gatiss at the end of the 10 minute hearing he would continue to be remanded in custody and "an immediate sentence of imprisonment is pretty well inevitable".

Gatiss will be sentenced on 2 April.

Disruption at Scotch Corner

BBC Travel says the A1 lane is closed on the entry slip road southbound at Scotch Corner because of a broken down vehicle.

Alan Barnes attacker in court

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

In today's brief hearing Nick Dry, prosecuting, said the mugger struck in an area of sheltered accommodation for disabled and elderly people and made a partial admission to police that he knew of Mr Barnes prior to the attack, and that, in Mr Barnes's opinion, he was attacked due to his disability.

Mr Dry said if it was agreed that Gatiss specifically targeted Mr Barnes "it can be inferred there is a general hostility towards people of disability".

He said that could mean Gatiss was guilty of a disability hate crime, which would aggravate the assault with intent to rob charge that he admitted last month.

Guilty plea over attack

In February, Richard Gatiss, from Gateshead, pleaded guilty to assault with intent to rob at Newcastle Crown Court.

BreakingAlan Barnes attack was 'hate crime'

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

A drug addict who mugged frail Tyneside pensioner Alan Barnes (pictured) wept in court as he heard lawyers will argue his attack was a hate crime.

Alan Barnes

Newcastle Crown Court heard prosecutors will say Richard Gatiss deliberately targeted his 4ft 6in, visually-impaired 67-year-old victim out of hostility towards the disabled.

Gatiss, 25, from Split Crow Road, Gateshead, appeared briefly at Newcastle Crown Court via a videolink from Durham Prison where he is being kept in segregation for his own safety. He will be sentenced on 2 April.

Machete raiders snatched puppy

The Chronicle


Dognappers armed with a machete

snatched a Tyneside family's prized Pug puppy in a terrifying night-time home invasion raid, a court hears.

Danny Allan

Danny Allan was one of two crooks who hatched a plot to target the £900 pet dog at a family home in the west end of Newcastle.

Good service on Metro

BBC Travel reports there's a good service on the Green and Yellow lines on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Type 2 diabetes targeted in County Durham

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

County Durham will be one of seven areas in England to pilot

a new scheme aimed at cutting rates of Type 2 Diabetes.

The project involves drives on weight loss, physical activity, cooking and nutrition.

It is based on studies in the United States, Japan, China and India which have shown intensive lifestyle changes can help adults at high risk of developing the condition.

Magna Carta on show in Durham

BBC Newcastle

The only surviving 1216 copy of the Magna Carta is to go on show at Durham University's Palace Green Library in June to mark the 800th anniversary of the document.

Magna carta

The Magna Carta is considered to have laid the foundations of British justice and laws and Durham Cathedral holds a number of priceless copies.

Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt runs from 1 June to 31 August.

Record sales slump to blame for festival's demise

Phil Mawson

BBC Newcastle

Sunderland's Split Festival

is to end because of spiralling costs.

Co-organiser Ross Millard said: "In the past 10 years the music industry has changed and with the rise of the internet, record sales have fallen. To cover this loss of revenue artist's agents are asking for significantly higher fees for live performances and many festivals are finding this unsustainable.

"We have spent as much as £140k per year on booking the bands, but we haven't been able to recoup those artist's fees in ticket sales and other revenue."