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  1. Updates on Wednesday 6 April 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Live updates for the North East have now finished for the day. 

We'll be back from 08:00 tomorrow with more news, sport, weather and travel - we hope you can join us then.

If you'd like to get in touch you can tweet usemail us, or contact us via Facebook.  

Arson attack kills 140 pigeons

An arson attack on an allotment in County Durham has killed 140 pigeons.

Police said the attack happened at a site next to Bishop Auckland Rugby Club last night.

A neighbouring allotment  was also damaged.

Boro defender says losing to Preston would 'destroy everything'

The 22-year-old, on loan from Premier League side Chelsea, has impressed for Middlesbrough this season.

Kalas added: "We feel the fans are standing behind us and now we notice it even more. We are really pleased and thankful."

"Sometimes it's better when I am under pressure and challenging myself to keep my position in the first XI - that's what all players need," he said.

"I was struggling on the bench when we had gone nine games without conceding. Obviously I was happy for the team but for myself it wasn't the best. Now I am trying to keep everyone out of my position."

Loss would 'destroy everything' - Kalas

Middlesbrough defender Tomas Kalas says a defeat against Preston on Saturday would "destroy everything" after their recent good run.

Boro have won the most games in the Championship and have not lost a league game at the Riverside since January.

Middlesbrough defender Tomas Kalas
Rex Features

"When we play at home we know we've got the advantage against the other teams we are playing," Kalas told BBC Tees.

"For three home games we have started pretty well but we can destroy everything if we lose the next game."  

Transporter Bridge closed

BBC Travel

The Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough is closed between the Vulcan Street junction and the A1046 Port Clarence Road junction because of strong winds.  

Get more traffic information on the BBC Travel website for Tyne & Wear and Teesside.    

New mayor for Stockton

Councillor Ken Dixon has become the new Mayor of Stockton.

Mr Dixon was officially installed at Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s annual general meeting today, replacing Ian Dalgarno at the end of his mayoral year.

Councillor Ken Dixon
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Born in Middlesbrough, Mr Dixon said: “I am really looking forward to my year in office.

"I want to speak up for Stockton-on-Tees and be an ambassador for the borough. I’m eager to visit as many different places and meet as many people as possible.”

Man killed in house fire named

A man who died in a house fire in County Durham has been named.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue crews were called to the blaze Beech Close, Brasside, on Monday evening.

Murdo Macleod, believed to be in his early 60s, was pronounced dead at the scene. A post-mortem exam is due to be carried out. 

A joint investigation is under way between the fire service and Durham Police to establish the exact cause of the fire.

Denise Robertson's funeral announced

The funeral of Sunderland-born agony aunt Denise Robertson is to take place on 13 April.

The 83-year-old, who was a regular on ITV's This Morning, died earlier this month after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Denise Robertson

Her family said a ceremony will take place at the city's minster, ahead of interment at Grangetown Cemetery.

A family spokesman said any donations made would go to the Great North Hospital's Bubble Foundation.

Byker Wall gets £9.5m revamp

A 1970s housing estate in Newcastle has had another multimillion-pound refurbishment. 

The Byker Wall - now a Grade II listed building - has had a new paint job in its original primary colours.

Revamped Byker Wall
UpNorth Communications

It's also got a new roof, new solar panels, and improvements to security for the 600 flats that make up the mile-long wall. 

The wall is now run by the Byker Community Trust, a not-for-profit charitable landlord. 

The government wrote off the historic debt associated with the Byker Estate which meant the trust could get private funding for the refurb.

Tata Steel sale process to begin by Monday

Tata Steel will begin the formal process to sell its UK plants by Monday, Business Secretary Sajid Javid has said after talks in India.

Mr Javid said a number of parties had come forward, but only named Liberty Steel, whose interest is widely known.

He said the meeting was "constructive and positive" and had demonstrated once again Tata was a "responsible company".

Tata is known to want a quick sale, but Mr Javid gave no details of what the timeframe for a sale would be.

Hundreds of people are employed at its pipe mill in Hartlepool.

Ben Stokes: New Zealand radio duo air phone call from England player's mum

Two New Zealand radio presenters have been suspended after broadcasting a phone call from Ben Stokes' mum when she believed she was off air.

 Deborah Stokes, who lives in New Zealand, rang up to complain about criticism of her son's performance in England's World Twenty20 final defeat. 

Ben Stokes, who plays for Durham, was hit for four sixes in the final over of the match. 

 After being told she was off air, Deborah Stokes said she was "totally brassed off" about the hosts' "personal attack"

  A spokesperson for New Zealand Media and Entertainment condemned the actions of the hosts and said Wells and Heath had been reprimanded.  

Ben Stokes
Getty Images

Travel: Broken down van blocking lane

BBC Travel

The A69 has a lane closed on the entry slip road southbound at the Hexham turn off because of a broken down van.  

And there's slow traffic and congestion on the A690 westbound in Carrville in County Durham between the A1(M) J62 Carrville junction and Gilesgate Roundabout.  

Get more traffic information on the BBC Travel website for Tyne & Wear and Teesside.  

Co-op drivers outsourcing dispute resolved

Co-op drivers have voted to accept proposals to settle a dispute over outsourcing jobs.

The row centred on the future of the company's drivers after plans were put forward to transfer 87 members to haulier Eddie Stobart.

Unite, which represents more than 700 Co-op drivers, said it had been given "a firm commitment for their future" in line with a five-year plan. 

The Co-op said it was pleased with the ballot's outcome, which affects members based in based in County Durham, Coventry, Derbyshire, Essex, Devon, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Police explain failure to notice teenage killers' bloodied clothes

Police have explained how an officer who drove home two teenage murderers failed to see blood on their clothes. 

The girls, aged 13 and 14 at the time, battered 39-year-old Angela Wrightson to death at her home in Hartlepool. 

Cleveland Police head of crime Det Ch Supt Peter McPhillips said it had been dark and the girls had seemed "fine". 

Angela Wrightson

Hartlepool Council and the area's NHS clinical commissioning group would not comment on what happened until serious case reviews are concluded.

Steelworkers ballot on pay and pensions deal

About 1,300 Tata steelworkers in Skinningrove, Redcar, York and Workington - all part of the Long Products division which has been put up for sale by its parent company - have begun balloting on a new pay and pensions deal.

London investment firm Greybull is close to buying the division, but wants workers to take a three per cent cut in basic pay during the first year of its ownership.

A less generous pension payout would also replace the old British Steel final salary pension scheme. 

Carnival parade to wave off world-class cyclists

Exotic animals, shoals of colourful fish, and Maori-inspired costumes are set to join some of the top cyclists in the world in Middlesbrough.

The town is the start point for Stage 3 of the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire, with riders setting off for final leg to Scarborough on 1 May from Centre Square.

Middlesbrough Council

They will be waved on their way by a carnival parade featuring schoolchildren, community groups, performers and musicians, drawing inspiration from Captain Cook and his voyages.

Missing man's family informed of river body find

A body has been recovered from the River Tees in Stockton.

Cleveland Police said the discovery was made close to the Watersports Centre.

No formal identification has taken place as yet, but the family of a missing local man have been informed and are being supported by police.

David Welsh, a 61-year-old grandfather, was last seen on 8 December.

Weather: A cool, blustery afternoon

A cool, blustery afternoon, with sunny spells and scattered showers. 

Some of these are likely to be heavy with a risk of hail and thunder, with some snow falling on hills.


Check the forecast where you are.

Arrest after face slash attack in Sunderland

A man has been arrested after another man was attacked with a knife in Sunderland.

The 28-year-old victim suffered a serious slash wound to his face after he was approached by three men in Town End Farm on Saturday.

Northumbria Police said an 18-year-old was arrested on suspicion of wounding with intent and later bailed.

Bus tour charity fundraiser pays visit to Newcastle

Witness appeal after front door set on fire

The front door of a home in Lime Street in Winlaton was set on fire late on Sunday evening and police are asking for people with information to come forward.

Fire crews put the blaze out before it could cause much damage and no-one was injured, police say.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and has been bailed. 

Profits rise for Newcastle United, but fans' eyes are on the pitch

Their present form might be disappointing their fans on the pitch, but Newcastle United seem to be winning when it comes to finance.

Results just posted show a rise in profits - up to £32.4m for the year ending June 2015, from £18.7m in the previous financial year.

St James Park

However, with the team 19th in the Barclays Premier League, managing director Lee Charnley said he appreciated that what fans wanted to see was better football, not financial results.

"There are still 21 points to play for", he said.

"Lots can and likely will, happen over the next seven games."

Family tributes to Scotland death crash boy and woman

The families of a woman and boy killed in a crash in Scotland involving a car and a lorry have paid tribute to them.

Bartek Plachta, eight, from Poland, and Monika Lewandowska-Ritchie, 36, from Durham, died on the A92, near Kirkcaldy, on Monday.

Bartek Plachta and Monika Lewandowska-Ritchie
Police Scotland

Bartek's family said: "He was a very popular boy who touched the hearts of many and will be sadly missed."

Ms Lewandowska-Ritchie's family said: "Monika was a loving wife, mother, sister and daughter who was much loved and will be sadly missed."

Green light for new Northumberland County Council HQ

Northumberland County Council has been given planning permission for a new HQ. 

The current County Hall in Morpeth dates from 1981, but needs to be substantially refurbished. 

The authority said it would be more cost-effective to sell off the land, and build a new £40m HQ in Ashington.

Artist's impression of Northumberland County Council HQ
Northumberland County Council

Confusing urgent care problems addressed

A consultation into urgent care services in the Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield areas is underway to try and stop patients ending up in the wrong place.

The area clinical commissioning group says the current system is confusing and there is a lot of duplication of work between urgent care centres, walk-in centres, A&E departments and GP's surgeries.

Durham woman killed in crash in Scotland

Police have named a young boy and woman from Durham who were killed in a crash with a lorry. 

Eight-year-old Bartek Plachta, from Poland, was a back-seat passenger in a Ford Focus involved in the collision on the A92 in Kirkcaldy, Fife, on Monday. 

The child died at the scene and driver, Monika Lewandowska-Ritchie, was taken to hospital where the 36-year-old died the following day. 

A boy aged nine, also in the back seat of the car, suffered serious facial injuries in the crash just before 3pm. 

Shot man's family faces 'agonising wait'

The Shields Gazette

The family of James Wilson, who died after being shot by police, say they are enduring an agonising wait to find out when his funeral can be held

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is carrying out an investigation into the incident in South Shields in the early hours of 29 March.

Caught out by lunchtime seal viewing

Francesca Williams

Francesca Williams, BBC News

As some users of Twitter and Facebook will tell you, there's nothing like a cute animal to make you forget the time.

And so it proved for a family visiting St Mary's lighthouse who were so distracted watching a seal they didn't notice the causeway back to the mainland was being submerged by the rising tide.

Cullercoats lifeboat came to the rescue to save the (very apologetic) family a four hour wait with two small children.

And because we want our readers to be safe - here's a seal you can look at in perfect safety.


Pensioner takes a fundraising bus tour

An 82-year-old man who's travelling round the country using just his bus pass sets off from Newcastle today.

Malcolm Metcalfe is working his way through 33 counties on 60 different buses over 29 days to raise money for a new hospice in Great Yarmouth.

We think he'll find his journey a breeze though. After all, he's already hitch-hiked to Australia and been to America 21 times.

Reality Check: Does the North East make more cars than Italy?

It's always nice to hear something good about the North East.

But, when Prime Minister David Cameron claimed we make more cars here than they do in Italy, was he right?

You can find out here with BBC Reality Check.

Getty Images

Happy birthday Northumberland National Park

It's exactly 60 years since the creation of Northumberland National Park - at the beginning of April back in 1966.

Even better than that, it was recently voted National Park of the Year.

Go on, blow out the candles and make a wish.

The park's rolling hills have long been a favourite with walkers
Northumberland National Park

Bringing the museum raiders to book

Durham Police was key to the conviction of the gang behind the theft of museum artefacts worth up to £57m.

Following the raid at Durham University's Oriental Museum, Det Supt Adrian Green, was contacted by his counterpart in Cambridge who was investigating the theft from the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Durham museum raid
Durham Police

A link was established, and so began a major operation involving "hard graft", and months of covert phone monitoring.

The telephone that would be key to the gang's downfall was discovered as a result of the Durham investigation - found stuffed inside one of the suspects' underpants.

And so began the process of capture, conviction and the sentencing of the perpetrators.

BreakingMan arrested over Norma Bell murder

A man has been arrested over the murder of a Hartlepool pensioner.

The 32-year-old was held last night after Norma Bell was found dead in Hartlepool.

She was found dead in her house after a fire.

Norma Bell
Cleveland Police

Officers said a handbag, which was thought to have been taken from the home on Westbourne Road, has now been located inside the property.

Hundreds of pounds of cash remains missing.

Butlin's apologises for featuring 'Islamic Baddie' in wrestling event

A wrestling show has been criticised for featuring an "Islamic flag-waving baddie" who the crowd were told to boo.

The character, wielding a green flag emblazoned with Arabic writing, was pitted against a Union Flag-bearing opponent during the Superslam show at Butlin's in Skegness.

Wrestling match at Butlin's in Skegness
Christian Ceriso

The holiday camp has apologised after a guest from Newcastle complained that the event was in poor taste.  

Museum gang members all jailed after Chinese art and rhino thefts

The final six members of a gang have been jailed for masterminding the theft of artefacts worth up to £57m from museums and an auction house.

Museums thefts gang
Durham Police

Chinese jade and rhino horn were targeted in Cambridge, Durham, Norwich and Lewes, East Sussex.  

Ramirez hailed after Middlesbrough's win over Huddersfield

BBC Sport

Middlesbrough eased past Huddersfield to move within just one point of Championship leaders Burnley.  

Speaking after the 3-0 win, Boro manager Aitor Karanka said: "Gaston Ramirez was the player who changed everything.

"For the first 25 minutes we looked as if we were playing for nothing. He was the difference between Huddersfield and us.

"I think it was his best game for us. He scored, he worked and he came up with an assist for the penalty - the things we expected when he came here."

Gaston Ramirez

Weather: Early rain clearing to leave a cool day with sunshine and showers

Owain Wyn Evans

Weather presenter, BBC Look North

Early rain soon clears to leave a rather cool, blustery day with sunny spells and scattered showers. 

Some of the showers are likely to be heavy with a risk of hail and thunder, with perhaps some snow falling on the hilltops. 

Owain Wyn Evans weather graphic

 Maximum Temperature: 9C (48F).

Travel: A66 in Middlesbrough now blocked

BBC Travel

The A66 in Middlesbrough is now completely blocked causing traffic to queue at Cargo Fleet Interchange, because of an overturned car and an accident involving a lorry, taxi and a car on the roundabout.  

More traffic information on the BBC Travel website for Tyne & Wear and Teesside.  

Reprieve for under-threat Hartlepool fertility service

Under-threat fertility services in Hartlepool have been given a temporary reprieve ahead of a High Court hearing.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust planned to end licensed fertility treatment, including IVF, at University Hospital Hartlepool on 31 March.

But Hartlepool Council won an injunction, claiming the trust had not properly consulted on the move.

Ahead of a further hearing on Tuesday the organisations agreed to a three-month consultation.

University Hospital Hartlepool