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  1. Updates on Wednesday 20 April 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Updates for the North East have now finished for the day. 

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

If you'd like to get in touch you can tweet us, email, or contact us through our Facebook page.  

Tonight's weather: Dry and sunny

BBC Weather

Dry and sunny this evening, with light winds.

Staying dry overnight with mostly clear skies.

With light winds, this will allow temperatures to fall and a touch of grass frost to form in places by the morning.  

Women and girls offered free golf lessons in Durham

The South Moor club in County Durham are offering women and girls a free go at golf.

It's through funding from England Golf, and female beginners can enjoy free "taster" coaching sessions.

Women playing golf
Leaderboard Photography

The club say all equipment is provided and they can wear what they like.

Shaun Cowell, one of South Moor's PGA professionals, said: "Women have always been regarded as equals at our club.

"We have taken this step to encourage women and girls to try golf because we feel the sport as a whole suffers from an unfair stereotype where females are concerned".

Sport: 'Newcastle have not learned from 2009 relegation'

Alan Shearer

BBC Radio 5 live at St James' Park

Alan Shearer believes Newcastle have repeated mistakes which saw them relegated in 2009:

Police uncover £65,000 cannabis farm

A cannabis farm with an estimated street value of £65,000 was uncovered in Ashington yesterday.

A stun gun and CS canister were also recovered from the address in Woodhorn Road. 

Cannabis farm
Northumbria Police

A 29-year-old has been charged with producing a controlled drug and possessing a weapon designed to discharge a noxious substance

He'll appear before South East Northumberland Magistrates' Court today.

Comedian Victoria Wood 'had so much to give'

Duncan Leatherdale

BBC News Online

Comedian Victoria Wood, who has died after battle with cancer, "still had so much to offer", her brother says.

Chris Foote-Wood is a politician and journalist living in County Durham.

He told BBC Tees: "She was the youngest of four children and I'm the oldest with almost 13 years between us.

Victoria Wood

"It's a terrible thing that your youngest sibling is the one that dies first.

"She was so tremendously talented that whatever she turned her hand to became a success.

"We've lost one of the greatest creative entertainers of our generation."

Video: 'Derby day helper' rewarded by being a mascot

The little boy who stayed behind to help tidy up when Newcastle United played Sunderland was rewarded with the chance to be a mascot at yesterday's match:

View more on twitter

Mouth of the Tyne Festival to be covered on BBC radio

BBC Newcastle will be at this year's Mouth of the Tyne festival bringing you all the behind-the-scenes insights, interviews with acts and festival goers - as well as social media and photos.

BBC Local Radio is partnering with BBC Music to provide coverage of 42 festivals across the country.

The Mouth of The Tyne festival this year features James Bay, Will Young and Lulu.


Woman leaves surprise donation to Blyth library in will

A Blyth woman has left more than £30,000 to the town’s library.

Joyce Wakenshaw rose to prominence as the head of a United Nations school in Geneva.

Blyth library staff with their cheque
Northumberland County Council

She was a familiar face at Blyth Library throughout the years, where she would spend many hours going through the archives to research her family history - a subject she was passionate about.

But the staff knew little of Joyce’s illustrious teaching career and they were "gobsmacked" when they found she'd left them money after she passed away in July 2014, at the age of 86.

Two men arrested over car damage in Gatehead

Two men have been arrested after a number of cars were damaged in Gateshead.

Last night, three cars parked in Ravensworth Court and Ridley Street in the Bensham area had their wing mirrors and body panels damaged. 

Police say the bill will run into hundreds of pounds. A fence in Ravensworth Court was also damaged. 

Two men, both aged 19, have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and are currently in custody.

People in police custody to be screened for health problems

People in Northumbria Police custody will experience a new electronic screening tool designed to figure out if someone has physical or mental health problems.

It starts today.

Police custody

Dr Iain McKinnon, a consultant psychiatrist who works at Newcastle University led the design.

He says it's difficult for custody staff "under stressful conditions" and it will help them work out if someone needs medical intervention.

Brian Johnson ‘crushed’ at missing AC/DC tour

Sunderland Echo


Dunston-born AC/DC singer Brian Johnson says he is not retiring from music despite doctors telling him he risks substantial hearing loss if he continues to perform in large arenas and stadiums.

Brian Johnson
Sunderland Echo

Steel crisis: Plant boss to launch Tata UK buyout

Tata Steel's Port Talbot chief Stuart Wilkie is to launch a management buyout of the company's operations in the UK.

Tata is selling its entire loss-making UK business and has asked for expressions of interest as part of the sales negotiations process.

Tata steel

The company's Long Products Division, which in our region employs more than 700 people at Lackenby and Skinningrove on Teesside, was bought by Greybull Capital earlier this month.   

The pipe mill in Hartlepool was not included in this deal and employs about 500 people.

Chinchillas dumped at gates of Middlesbrough animal centre

Three "very stressed" chinchillas have been found dumped at the gates of the RSPCA Great Ayton Animal Centre in Middlesbrough. 

The two female and one male kits were in a screwed-shut wooden box, which had holes cut out of it, and someone had written on the inside: "Chinchillas (please re-home)."

Little chinchilla

Centre deputy manager Olivia Newell said: “It was pouring with rain and freezing cold.

“It was only by chance that a member of staff was working late and found them, or they would've been there all night."

However, after several days in RSPCA care, she said "they are doing much better".

Nissan cars in emissions scandal 'not made in Washington'

Hundreds of thousands of Nissan cars caught up in the emissions faking scandal were not made at the firm's Washington plant, the company has confirmed.

Mitsubishi Motors has admitted falsifying fuel economy data for more than 600,000 vehicles sold.

Almost 470,000 were cars made for Nissan, but the firm's press office has confirmed it only relates to cars made and sold in Japan. 

Dayz Roox
Getty Images

A statement says: "Nissan voluntarily directed dealers in Japan to suspend sales of the Mitsubishi-sourced Dayz and Dayz Roox series of kei-cars. 

"The action was taken after learning of an issue related to the fuel-efficiency certification for the cars, which is Mitsubishi's responsibility."

Alan Shearer 'would not take NUFC job again'

BBC Radio 5 Live

Alan Shearer says he would turn down the chance to manage Newcastle if the job was offered to him again.

The former Magpies striker took charge for the final eight matches of the 2009 season, but could not prevent the club from being relegated from the Premier League.

Alan Shearer says he would turn down the chance to manage Newcastle again.

John, a Newcastle fan, asked if Shearer would take the job again if current manager Rafael Benitez does not stay beyond the current season.

Shearer said: "I thought I was taking it for the long term last time and for a thousand reasons it did not happen. But I would not come back into Newcastle. Not yet anyway."

Missing author spoke of 'needing time to herself' before disappearance

Police have launched specialist searches in the hunt for missing woman Helen Bailey. 

The Northumberland-born children's author, whose husband John Field drowned in 2011 while on holiday, had reportedly said she "needed a little time to herself" prior to her disappearance.

The last sighting of her was over a week ago near her home in Royston, Hertfordshire, where she was seen walking her dog.

Helen Bailey
Hertfordshire Police

Following her husband's death, Mrs Bailey began writing an online blog called Planet Grief, in which she describes her struggle with being a widow.

In a post named "Trust me, I'm A Widow", she wrote: "Believe me, I know what it's like to feel the unrelenting pain of searing grief".

Detective Inspector Lynda Coates, who is leading the investigation, understands Mrs Bailey said "she needed a little time to herself" prior to her disappearance. 

"We are keeping an open mind on the circumstances".

Burglar disturbed in the early hours of this morning

A burglar was disturbed inside a property in Gateshead this morning.

Police say he fled the address in Glebe Terrace empty handed and they searched the area at about 04:00.

Around the same time a Nissan Quashqai was stopped by officers in Ropery Road and a number of men fled into the nearby housing estates.

The area was searched with a police helicopter but officers were unable to locate the men.

Alan Shearer: Match of the Day pundit extends BBC contract

Former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer has extended his BBC contract to 2020.

Alan Shearer
BBC Sport

Shearer joined the BBC shortly after his retirement in 2006 and has covered five major international tournaments.

He said: "I'm loving my broadcasting work with the BBC and I'm excited to continue my role working across its wide range of football coverage."

Dementia threat 'may be less severe' than predicted

The predicted explosion of dementia cases may be less severe than previously thought, a study in Nature Communications suggests.

Old people

Researchers looked at three areas of England, including Newcastle, and found new rates of dementia were lower than past trends would suggest.

They say improvements in men's health is the most likely explanation.

But charities warn against complacency, with more than 200,000 dementia cases diagnosed each year in the UK.

Children in Blyth get a royal visit

Gerry Jackson

BBC Look North

Children in Blyth have met the Countess of Wessex on the second day of her North East Visit.

Countess of Wessex in Blyth

Yesterday, Her Royal Highness was at the Durham Chorister School as it celebrated its 600th anniversary. 

Today, she's in Northumberland as the town prepares for a major sailing event this August. 

We'll have more on the visit on Look North later.

One in four North East patients forced to wait more than a week for GP appointments

The Chronicle

After-school clubs 'boost poorer pupils' results'

After-school clubs help to close the attainment gap between rich and poor, research finds.

School children at an after-school club

Poorer primary children who had taken part in after-school clubs were found to get better results at age 11 than peers from similar homes who had not.  

The Nuffield Foundation says clubs are an "easy vehicle" for improving achievement.

The researchers - including Newcastle University - analysed information on more than 6,400 children in England taking part in the Millennium Cohort Study, which has been following children born in 2000-01 from birth.

Match report: Newcastle's draw with Man City

BBC Sport

Newcastle United's 1-1 draw with Manchester City last night had ramifications on both ends of the table.

It brought the Magpies within a point of 17th-placed Sunderland, while City are now just four points ahead of neighbours Manchester United in the race for the top four.

Sergio Aguero was miles offside as he scored his 100th Premier League goal before Vurnon Anita equalised. How Newcastle could have done with those three points...

Read the full report here.

Sunderland Vaux Brewery redevelopment approved

Fresh plans to redevelop the site of a former Sunderland brewery which has lain empty for 16 years have been approved.

Vaux site plans

More than 300 people lost their jobs when the Vaux Brewery closed in 1999 after 162 years.

Several proposals for the five-acre site, including a Tesco superstore, have failed to win planning permission.

But a new bid to build an office block and leisure complex has been approved by Sunderland City Council planners.

Rugby: Newcastle sign England scrum-half Sam Egerton

Newcastle have announced the signing of England sevens international scrum-half Sam Egerton. 

The 24-year-old will move to the Falcons for next season.

Sam Egerton
Getty Images

He previously played for Harlequins and Yorkshire Carnegie, in addition to being part of four Oxford University Varsity Match-winning teams.

"Sam is an exceptional player," Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards said. "He boasts strong decision-making ability, has a good break on him and knows his way to the line".

Video: Little Mix release new single

Mark Savage

Music reporter

Little Mix's third album, Get Weird, is the biggest-seller of their career, with sales approaching half a million in the UK.

To celebrate, the group, which lists South Shields girls Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall among their numbers, released the fan favourite Hair as the fourth single from the album. 

It's been given a fresh lick of paint and a new rap from Sean Paul. And somehow, in the middle of their sold out UK tour, they've managed to film a video.

Riffing on Grease and Risky Business, it sees the quartet shaking off a break-up via the medium of a girls' night in (and some of the most blatant product placement in living memory).

View more on youtube

Warning: Third party content may contain ads

Match report: Middlesbrough's draw with Burnley

BBC Sport

Michael Keane's injury-time equaliser salvaged Burnley a point against fellow promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough.

Getty Images

Both sides began the match in the top two, and Boro came close in the first half when Albert Adomah hit the bar.

League leaders Boro took the lead when Jordan Rhodes finished from six yards.

Full report here.

Cannabis farm compost donated to local group

Fifty bags of compost taken from a cannabis farm have been donated to the Westerhope Institute in Newcastle.

Police and some cannabis compost
Northumbria Police

Police say they went to a house in Benwell after reports of disorder at the property, and discovered "a 300-plant-strong cannabis farm" inside.

The plants, lighting and heating equipment were seized by officers along with 50 unopened bags of compost.

The cannabis was destroyed and the heating and lighting equipment removed, however the compost bags found were "unopened and of good quality".

Police say the Westerhope Institute was "delighted to take it off the police's hands".

North East sees unemployment rise along with UK

Unemployment in the North East went up by 1,000 between December and February, according to new figures out today.

It means 104,000 people are out of work, giving us an unemployment rate of 8%, which is still the highest in the UK.

The North East is not alone though - UK unemployment has risen overall by 21,000 to 1.7 million, the Office for National Statistics says.

That is the first increase since the May-July period of last year.

Paul Gascoigne 'back to best' after 'alcohol blip'

Paul Gascoigne says he is back to his "best" after suffering a "two-day blip" in his ongoing struggle with alcoholism.

The former Middlesbrough and Newcastle midfielder, who has had a drink problem for more than 20 years, told ITV's Good Morning Britain that he was doing "all right" and had been clean for 11 months.

Paul Gascoigne

In March, Gascoigne was photographed clutching a bottle of gin and being escorted by a police officer in his home town of Poole, Dorset.

Speaking to show presenters Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, Gascoigne was smartly dressed, with Morgan telling him: "You look good, mate."

Shrugging off his recent relapse as nothing more than a "blip", the 48-year-old said he had been sober for months and was "back to my best".

South Tyneside schoolboys arrested over indecent images

Two schoolboys aged 12 and 13 have been arrested after concerns were raised about children sharing inappropriate images on social media.

Northumbria Police said the pair were arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images.

A spokesman said investigations were ongoing to "ensure the safeguarding of those involved" and to check that there was no ongoing risk of exploitation.

Both boys have been bailed pending further inquiries.

Supt Sarah Pitt said the force was working with schools across South Tyneside to make children "aware of the risks around sharing images of themselves and others via text and social network sites".  

Author Helen Bailey's disappearance 'out of character'

Missing children's author Helen Bailey's disappearance is 'totally out of character', her friend has said.

Helen Bailey

The Northumberland-born 51-year-old, who wrote the Electra Brown series for teenagers, was last seen walking her dog near her home in Royston, Hertfordshire over a week ago.

Friend Shelley Whitehead said: "We're very concerned. We feel desperate and very distraught."

Police searched the author's house earlier and said the the situation would be kept under review.

Weather: Plenty of sunshine ahead

BBC Weather

It will be a dry day across the region with plenty of sunshine, although cloudier at times in the afternoon.

Feeling pleasant in the light winds, although onshore breezes will keep things a little cooler near the coast.  

Check the weather where you are.

Liam Fee murder trial: Boy 'made up' toddler strangling story

A young boy who said he "strangled" toddler Liam Fee on the day he died changed his claim in a subsequent interview, a murder trial has heard.

Liam Fee

The youngster, who cannot be named, initially said the incident happened on Saturday 22 March 2014.

But in a later interview, he said he had "made up" that part and it had actually happened on a Tuesday.

Liam's mother Rachel Fee and partner Nyomi Fee, orginally from Gateshead, deny murdering Liam and blaming his death on another child.