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  1. Updates on Friday 22 April 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

Francesca Williams

Francesca Williams, BBC News

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

We'll be back with more news, sport, weather and travel from 08:00 on Monday. 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.  

Swimmer Willmott aims to justify Rio selection

BBC Tees

Middlesbrough swimmer Aimee Willmott says she will not be satisfied with simply making up the numbers after being included in the Team GB squad for the Rio Olympics.

The 23-year-old finished second behind Hannah Miley in the 400m individual medley at the British Championships, but her consideration time of four mins 35.52 secs earned her selection.

"Swimming's my job and you don't expect to go along for the ride," she said.

Aimee Willmott
Rex Features

"I need to earn my position and show everyone why I've been picked."

Willmott came fifth in the heats and missed out on a place in the 400m individual medley final at London 2012, but won silver in the event and the 200m butterfly at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Sunderland need to 'fight, battle and scrap' for clean sheets

BBC Sport

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has been facing the media ahead of the Black Cats' game against Arsenal. Here's what he has to say.

"We finally put the perfect result together at Norwich at a crucial time.

"Hopefully we can try and get some more points out of a game that will be very difficult. Out of possession the most important thing is to fight, battle and scrap for a clean sheet."

Weather: Mostly dry but chilly night in store

Kay Crewdson

Weather presenter, BBC Look North

There's a slight risk of the odd shower later but otherwise it'll be mostly settled and fine for the rest of the day.

It'll stay largely dry overnight but it will be chilly with temperatures falling to between 2-4C.

Tomorrow will start fine but showers are likely by the afternoon.

Check the forecast where you live.

Kay Crewdson and weather graphic

Team news: Sunderland v Arsenal

BBC Sport

Jack Rodwell returns to Sunderland's squad for the Arsenal match after illness but Jeremain Lens is struggling with a virus.

Defender DeAndre Yedlin is doubtful with an ankle injury but Fabio Borini has shaken off a shin problem.

Action from Arsenal v Sunderland in December
Getty Images

Jack Wilshere could make the Arsenal squad for the first time this season after recovering from a broken leg.

Santi Cazorla and Tomas Rosicky are back in training after respective Achilles and thigh injuries but are unlikely to feature.

Police believe missing teenager has been seen

Police believe Lachlan Burr, who has been missing from his home in Ellis Gardens, Hemlington since 14 April, has been seen in Park End, Middlesbrough, twice over the past two days.

The 16-year-old was wearing a blue sleeved Nike jumper with dark red on the front and back, black Adidas bottoms with blue stripes and red and black Nike air trainers.

Anyone who knows where he is is asked to contact Cleveland Police.

Benitez hails Anita and Tiote as 'examples'

BBC Sport

At his weekly news conference, boss Rafael Benitez is asked whether he is still confident that he can saveNewcastle from relegation.

"We must believe," he says. "I'm not happy with a start of just two games, we need more. But the intensity and character [we have shown] means that the players believe."

He singles out the performances of Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote as "examples for the squad".

Newcastle play Liverpool at Anfield tomorrow at 15:00.

Call to Morpeth Town fans to buy more Wembley tickets

Fans of Morpeth Town are being urged to back their club ahead of one of the biggest games in its history.

The team will take on Hereford FC in the FA Vase in a month, but ticket sales for the game at Wembley haven't sold as well as expected.

Club chairman Ken Beattie says it would be good to match Hereford's ticket sales.

"Teams perform better when you've got better support and, at Wembley, there's going to be such an atmosphere it's important, very important that we've got people behind us," he says.

Morpeth Town FC club sign

Durham County Council top for highway maintenance

Francesca Williams

Francesca Williams, BBC News

The people at Durham County Council who maintain the roads must be feeling pleased with themselves.

The council is one of only two in the country awarded top marks for the efficiency of its highways service.

Parliamentary under secretary of state for transport Andrew Jones said he would "urge other authorities to look closely at how Durham and Lincolnshire are running such an efficient operation”.

Road mending
Durham County Council

As a result the council will be given an additional £666,000 to spend on maintaining its highways network in 2016/17 – the most it could have got.  

Sunderland paid more than Newcastle in agents fees

The Football Association has released details of agents' fees paid by our clubs between 1 October 2015 and 1 February 2016.

It shows how much each team paid:

  • Sunderland - £733,894
  • Newcastle United - £538,107 
  • Middlesbrough - £340,395
  • Hartlepool United - £0

Manchester United paid the most in the country - £10,023,318

The FA adds payments included in these figures may have been made due to deals done before the cut off date.

Hartlepool church’s bells are set to Ring for England

Hartlepool Mail


Bells are set to "Ring for England" to mark St George’s Day tomorrow.

The bells at the Art Gallery and Information Centre, formerly Christ Church, will ring at midday for 30 minutes tomorrow to celebrate St George’s Day.

Hartlepool bellringer Andrew Frost
Hartlepool Mail

They will be rung by Hartlepool bell ringers as part of a national celebration “Ring for England” in which thousands of people from around the country, with many from the North East, will ring bells to celebrate England’s national day.  

Watch out for people trying to steal your money, police warn

Fraudsters are trying to steal money in Newcastle using a trick called "ringing the changes", police are warning.

They're going into shops and businesses and asking for large amounts of cash to be changed.

They then distract the member of staff while they're trying to count the money who then, confused, end up handing over more than intended.

Stockton gets into the birthday mood for the Queen

People in Stockton have been celebrating the Queen's 90th birthday with a traditional beacon lighting event.

Stockton Borough Council

Stockton's mayor, Ken Dixon, said it had been good to "recognise the extraordinary service she has given the country for more than six decades".

Scammer pretends to be member of armed forces

A pensioner from County Durham has lost her entire life savings after being caught out by an online scam.

The 64-year-old met a man on a dating website who was pretending to be a British soldier.

He persuaded her to send him over £10,000.

Durham Police said he weaved a story about being in Syria and needing financial help "within days of introducing himself".

Andy Carroll back in the North East

Former Newcastle United striker Andy Carroll is having a family day out back in the North East.

The West Ham forward posted this photo on Instagram:

View more on instagram

Team news: Middlesbrough v Ipswich Town

BBC Sport

Striker Cristhian Stuani could be included in Middlesbrough's squad after returning from suspension.

Left-back George Friend (hamstring) is doubtful, with loan signing Ritchie de Laet in line to deputise.

Ipswich will again be without strikers Daryl Murphy (calf) and Luke Varney (hamstring).

On-loan Fulham midfielder Ben Pringle is available again but forward Larsen Toure will not travel because of a groin injury.

Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka

North Sea tax receipts slump to £35m

Tax receipts from offshore oil and gas slumped to just £35m in the last financial year, according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs.

The figure is the lowest recorded since the early days of North Sea production.

Shell worker at Brent field in North Sea

Digging at Tynemouth Outdoor Pool marks next step towards site's restoration

The Chronicle

Digging has been taking place at a derelict outdoor pool to see what material was used to fill in the lido when it closed in the mid 1990s.

The Friends of Tynemouth Outdoor Pool are leading the redevelopment of the rundown site at the southern end of Longsands beach.

Tynemouth Pool
The Chronicle

Team news: Liverpool v Newcastle United

BBC Sport

Newcastle right-back Daryl Janmaat is out with a groin injury so Vurnon Anita should continue in his place.

Captain Fabricio Coloccini is still sidelined with a groin problem, but Kevin Mbabu returns from injury.

Midfielders Georginio Wijnaldum and Jonjo Shelvey have reacted well to a return to training.

Rafael Benitez

Liverpool striker Divock Origi is expected to miss the rest of the season after suffering ankle ligament damage in the midweek win over Everton.

Martin Skrtel is doubtful with a groin injury, while Christian Benteke is nearing a return after a knee problem.

Lunchtime Look North with Colin Briggs

Colin Briggs

Look North

A Middlesbrough grandmother with a tiny pacemaker, and people going to extraordinary lengths for the London Marathon will be making appearances on Look North this lunchtime.

Join us from 13:00 on BBC One.

Video: Celebrations as Darlington win the league

Here's some fan footage of the Darlington FC players lifting the Northern Premier League trophy:

View more on twitter

Ex-Pools coach searching for future footballers on Teesside

Hartlepool Mail


Former Hartlepool United coach Martin Scott is on the hunt for a school that will help develop the region’s potential professional footballers of the future.

Scott, the ex-Premier League player for Sunderland, is one of just 200 holders of the elite UEFA Pro Licence in the country, which is the highest coaching qualification.

Martin Scott
Hartlepool Mail

HSBC says it closed Redcar branch because people stopped using it

Francesca Williams

Francesca Williams, BBC News

HSBC has come in for some criticism for closing its branch on Queen Street in Redcar but says it never takes "the decision to close a branch lightly". 

"We understand it's unsettling for the local community," it said.

"Unfortunately, with an increase in the use of online and telephone banking over the past few years use of the Redcar branch has fallen significantly and we've taken the difficult decision to close it."

The bank is working with customers to help them understand their options, which include the Post Office and nearby free ATMs. 

And you could go here instead. It's only about nine miles away in Middlesbrough.

HSBC bank in Middlesbrough

A four-car crash brings Newcastle city centre roads to a standstill

The Chronicle

A four-car crash brought Newcastle city centre roads to a standstill yesterday.

Witnesses saw a car plough into the back of vehicles waiting at the traffic lights on Westgate Road and Neville Street.

Police ask for help in finding missing man

Detectives have made a specific appeal to people living in Meadow Well in North Shields to help find Michael Whinham, who has been missing since 14 November.

The last sighting of the 31-year-old from Oakfield Gardens in Newcastle was on CCTV cameras at Newcastle's Quayside that day.

He is then believed to have travelled to Meadow Well to see friends and may have been near the Metro Station and Northumberland Square between 17:00 and 20:00.

Michael Whinham on CCTV
Northumbria Police handout

Det Sgt Tam Fowler said: "It's been five months now since Michael was reported missing and our inquiries remain ongoing to try and find out where he is or what has happened to him.

"Please pass on what you know, it could make all the difference to the investigation and helping Michael's family get answers."

Jeff remembers the day he didn't meet Prince

Jeff Brown

BBC Look North

The death of superstar Prince has put us in reflective mood, contemplating our mortality, again.

I remember I was working as a sports reporter at Tyne Tees when a revival of The Tube was being filmed for the millennium, and Prince was to be on it.

Everybody working there got a message - if you bumped into him in the corridor you weren't allowed to look him in the eye, you had to avert your gaze, no explanations.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It was a massive operation. Nobody was allowed to go to rehearsals. Tickets were like gold dust.

He also refused to use the cutlery in the Tyne Tees canteen and brought his own.

Fans have been remembering his life purple-coloured tributes and dance parties.

Sunderland set for taxi-trade battle as Uber launches in the city

Sunderland Echo


Fare fights could break out with Wearside’s taxi customers as Uber launches today.

The service is moving into Sunderland as it builds on its trade in the UK.

Getting a head start on the world after spending time in prison

Six prisoners in Durham jail have been offered jobs when they're released, and six others offered help starting businesses, after impressing at a Dragons' Den-style event behind bars run by the Mitie Foundation charity.

Chris Clifford, an employer at the event, said: "It totally changed my perspective on prisoners and what they have to offer, completely."

A prisoner, also called Chris, said finding a job before leaving jail was key to stability outside.

"If you get released from nowhere with just £50 in your pocket you end up committing offences," he said.

Why a better knowledge of Shakespeare would have been useful in the pub quiz

Francesca Williams

Francesca Williams, BBC News

We're celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death at the moment. Had you noticed?

I'm beginning to wish I'd paid more attention, after a pub quiz question asking which was his both shortest and bloodiest play.

Getty Images

This weekend the BBC is running an international live stream of video and a live page (with updates from 19:30 tonight) so if that ever happens to you, you're sorted.

I still think the quiz master was wrong with Macbeth, though.

Take your chance to have your say on urgent care

There's a public event later today in Bishop Auckland where you can give your views on the future of urgent care services in parts of County Durham.

The Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield (DDES) Clinical Commissioning Group is exploring a number of options.

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

Millennium Bridge lit up for Queen's birthday

The Millennium Bridge across the River Tyne was lit in red, white and blue last night as a tribute to the Queen, who celebrated her 90th birthday.

More than 900 beacons were also lit across the country in tribute to her.

The Millennium Bridge lit up

Why the 'world's local bank' might need to brush up on its local knowledge

Francesca Williams

Francesca Williams, BBC News

The HSBC bank has been sending letters to customers telling them their branch in Redcar is shutting, and offering advice on where to go instead.

After all those adverts they ran saying "at HSBC we never underestimate the importance of local knowledge", we thought they might have done a bit better than spelling "Teeside" with only one "s" and relocating Middlesbrough and Hartlepool.

HSBC branches

Of course we let them know and they said: "We apologise for that typo and recognise it should have been spelt Teesside." 

Middlesbrough woman gets pacemaker the size of a grain of rice

Doctors say grandmother Joan Smith, 71, is one of the first patients outside of clinical trials to be fitted with a tiny, revolutionary pacemaker.

Mrs Smith, who was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy 21 years ago, says she feels like "a new woman".

She had the operation at Middlesbrough's James Cook University Hospital in February.

Dr Simon James and Joan Smith
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Banking giant's 'bad behaviour' on Teesside

There's been an angry reaction to news that HSBC is closing its Queen Street branch in Redcar on 15 July.

Council deputy leader Dave Walsh says it hasn't been well handled. 

"Being given a day's notice is not good corporate business behaviour," he said.

HSBC branch in Redcar

The company blames the growth of phone and online banking for a significant fall in customers using the branch, but says there will be no job losses.  

On Sunday Politics this weekend: PCC candidates battle it out

BBC Sunday Politics

This weekend we have a special looking at the Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

Four years ago only one in six people bothered to vote. But since then there’s been controversies and headlines.

David Macmillan looks at how the role of the PCC has developed and asks if it's delivering a better police force. 

We'll have the Northumbria PCC candidates in a studio debate. They are:

  • Vera Baird (Labour)
  • Stewart Hay (Con)
  • Melanie Hurst (UKIP)
  • Jonathan Wallace (Lib Dem)  

Sunday Politics in the North East and Cumbria is on BBC Two at 11:00 on Sunday, or catch up here on the iPlayer.

Steel crisis: Tata buyout consortium 'confidence' over help

A consortium looking to buy Tata Steel's UK operations says the option of the UK government taking a stake gives them more confidence of success.

Tycoon Sir Terry Matthews was revealed as part of the group which includes Port Talbot plant boss Stuart Wilkie.

It comes as the UK government said it was prepared to take a 25% stake after a takeover.

Tata Steel directly employs 15,000 workers in the UK and supports thousands of others, across plants in Port Talbot, Rotherham, Corby, Shotton and Teesside.  

Tata Steel
Getty Images

Mike Ashley sees fortune plummet by £1bn

Newcastle United owner and boss of Sports Direct Mike Ashley has seen his wealth plummet by £1bn in the last year according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

But, despite that, he's still the wealthiest person connected to the North East with nearly £2.5bn.

Mike Ashley

Sunderland AFC owner Ellis Short came in second with his total estimated wealth at £1.2bn.  

Weather: Feeling cooler though dry and fine

Kay Crewdson

Weather presenter, BBC Look North

Slightly more cloudy today and the breeze will pick up, though it will stay fine and dry.

Temperatures reaching a high of about 10C.

Check the forecast where you are.

Kay Crewsdon and weather graphic

Lee Cattermole: Sunderland midfielder believes club can win remaining games

Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole thinks they can earn maximum points from their remaining games and avoid relegation from the Premier League.

"I'm seeing five games left and I think we can win every one of them," he said.

"It would be unbelievable if we did but that is what we are aiming to do."

Lee Cattermole
Getty Images

The Black Cats beat relegation rivals Norwich on Sunday to move one point from safety with five matches left, but still have to play Arsenal and Chelsea at the Stadium of Light.