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  1. Updates on Wednesday 04 May 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 - thank you for joining us and hope you have a good evening. 

We'll be back from 08:00 tomorrow with more news, sport, weather and travel. Until then there will be updates online and in our radio and TV bulletins.

If you'd like to get in touch you can Tweetemail, or contact us via our Facebook page.  

Weather: Cloud to thicken this evening

BBC Weather

Cloud will thicken and lower into the evening, perhaps eventually bringing a little patchy rain to some hilly areas by the early hours.

This should prevent most areas from having a frost.  

Check the weather where you are.

Local elections: What is a police and crime commissioner?

Hartlepool Mail


Voters in the North East will go the polls tomorrow to elect their local council representatives and their police and crime commissioner.

But when it comes to the latter, what exactly does the role involve?

The Hartlepool Mail has put together a guide.

Hartlepool Mail

Headteacher 'delighted' at Durham schools being saved

The headteacher of Rookhope Primary School and also Forest-in Teesdale says he is delighted with the news the schools have been saved.

Ian Carroll broke the good news to pupils before they finished school today.

He congratulated them and said their efforts have saved the school. He also thanked parents and the media for their support.

Karanka hails home advantage ahead of Brighton clash

It's Middlesbrough v Brighton on Saturday in what is effectively a Premier League promotion play-off.

Statistically, Boro have the best home record in the division with 16 wins and two defeats in their 22 games at the Riverside and just seven goals conceded.

Boss Aitor Karanka puts part of that success down to the input of the support, which is the third highest on average in the second tier.

"The crowd can make the difference," Karanka said. "They're our 12th player and to play at home in the battle for promotion with that is an advantage."

Aitor Karanka

Liam Fee: Nursery manager 'noticed injuries' on murdered toddler

A nursery manager has told a murder trial that staff recorded a number of injuries on toddler Liam Fee during the three months he attended.

Kimberly Trail said the two-year-old started at the private facility in Fife in March 2013 and seemed a "happy wee boy" who played well with other children.

Liam Fee

But staff were noticing bruises and he seemed to lose weight before he was removed 12 weeks later after the nursery contacted social workers, she said.

Rachel Fee and Nyomi Fee, who are originally from Ryton in Gateshead, are accused of murdering Liam in March 2014 and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by blaming the killing on a young boy.  

Contract for £46m project in Tyne Valley awarded

A scheme to upgrade Horsley water treatment works, which was built in the 1970s and is nearing the end of its design life, is to begin this month.

The site serves 800,000 customers on Tyneside and can treat up to 150 million litres of water a day.

Northumbrian Water says customers' water supply "will not be affected while this work is carried out".

Boro promotion would be 'money can't buy' experience

BBC Sport

Promotion to the Premier League on Saturday would be a "money can't buy" experience for Middlesbrough's fans, says head coach Aitor Karanka.

Boro will return to the top flight by avoiding defeat by Brighton in the final game of the season, triggering an income windfall in the region of £100m.

Middlesbrough have sold out the Riverside Stadium for their promotion decider with Brighton
Getty Images

Victory for the Seagulls would condemn Boro to another play-off campaign.

"The thing that money can't buy is the emotion and happiness for our crowd," Karanka told BBC Tees.

"It's worth more than £100m, they spend money supporting us and are supporting and encouraging us every game."

Transporter Bridge reopens

The Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough has reopened after it closed earlier for "emergency repairs".

Northumbria Police chief 'had affair with assistant and was punched by her husband'

A chief constable had an affair with his assistant chief constable resulting in her police officer husband punching him at a barbecue, a tribunal has heard.

Mike Craik, who has since retired from Northumbria Police, was alleged to have been in a relationship with Carolyn Peacock.

Giving evidence at a tribunal, Denise Aubrey, 54, the former head of legal services, alleged Mrs Peacock's chief superintendent husband, Jim, punched Mr Craik after learning of the affair. 

The tribunal in North Shields, was convened after Ms Aubrey was sacked for gross misconduct after she allegedly disclosed information about the affair.

She denies this and has instead accused her former bosses of "unfair dismissal following a protected disclosure, sex discrimination, disability discrimination, victimisation and harassment".

The hearing continues.

BreakingThree Durham schools saved from closure

Durham County Council is to keep three rural schools open with a shared headteacher.

The council says: "At a time of continuing financial pressures and fewer children in some areas the authority needs to consider how best to ensure that small schools are both economically viable and in a position to provide a good quality of education for all pupils.

"Consideration had been given to the potential for merging Wearhead and St John's Chapel Primary Schools and closing Forest-in-Teesdale and Rookhope Primary Schools.

"But following helpful discussions with schools an alternative solution has been found."

Nurse shift changes shelved after opposition

Mark Denten

BBC Look North

South Tees NHS Trust announces it'll postpone nurses shift changes which unions claimed would mean they'd work for free.

The changes over breaks were announced in January.

The trust now says it was "stuck in an unconstructive conversation" over the move.

Man wins £20,000 football bet by accident

BBC Sport

Two firefighters who mistakenly backed Leicester City to win the Premier League have won £20,000.

Jordan Wright, from Essex, thought he had placed a £5 bet on the Foxes to triumph in their opening game of the season against Sunderland at odds of 2,000/1.

Jordan Wright and Mitchell Baldock

He roped in friend Mitchell Baldock to do the same, neither realising it related to the team winning the league.   

Woman who fell on to Metro tracks ‘refused transport to hospital,’ claims angry firefighter

The Shields Gazette

Man admits Northumbria Police officer bridge assault

A man has admitted assaulting a police officer on a bridge over the A1 on Tyneside.

The incident happened at 06:30 GMT on 12 November when a Northumbria Police officer was chasing a man in Newcastle.

Michael Walker, of Cornhill, Newcastle, denied attempted murder but admitted grievous bodily harm with intent, which the prosecution accepted.

The 28-year-old will be sentenced on 20 June at Newcastle Crown Court. He was remanded in custody.

Reports of armed man in Hartlepool

Following reports of someone armed with a firearm in Titan House, Hartlepool, police say they are "investigating an incident".

Police are letting people go in and out of the building, which is on York Road - and they say "it is not believed there is any threat to anyone inside the building or to the wider community in Hartlepool".  

Titan House

They say they're still finding out if there was an armed person in the building, but there is "no reason to believe anyone is now under any type of threat or in danger".

Lifeline for Darlington covered market

A lifeline has been thrown to Darlington's indoor market to allay fears that it was in danger of closing.

Darlington Market
Darlington Council

The authority will invest £200,000 in maintenance work on the Victorian building in a bid to attract a private investor to take over its management.

The money will be spent on repairs to the roof, the building's electrics, and on a new fire alarm system.

A spokesman for the stallholders' association said it is vital to keep the market running.

Cricket: Final day of Surrey v Durham

Analysis: Why Wonga's profits are causing interest

Simon Gompertz

Personal Finance Correspondent

Once Wonga stopped selling high cost payday loans to people who could not afford them, its original market was always going to shrink.

Add in the lower returns after the price cap, the hit from compensation bills, plus the cost of complying with strict new regulation and you can see how profits disappeared as well.

Now the short-term lender has gone slightly less short term. It is selling three-month loans with more flexible repayment rules.

It believes there is still a market for its wares among young borrowers on around £18,000 a year who do not have credit cards.

In a way, it is remarkable that Wonga has survived after the mauling it received. It has even persisted with the tainted Wonga brand.

But it still faces a long haul: more losses this year, more backing needed to support the new-style loans, and more work to convince the public that it has cleaned up its act.

Durham Constabulary celebrates Star Wars day

Meanwhile, in Durham...

View more on twitter

Five arrested after man stabbed in Gateshead

Five men have been arrested after a 37-year-old was stabbed in Gateshead.

It happened in the early hours of this morning on Whitehall Road in Bensham.

Police say the victim "suffered a head injury and a stab wound to his leg and was taken to hospital for treatment" and is currently in a "stable condition".

Transporter Bridge closed for 'emergency repairs'

BBC Travel

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

Get the latest travel news fore Tyne and Wear and Teesside

Man in court over double murder in Redcar

A 34-year-old man has appeared in court charged with murdering two women in separate incidents a few minutes apart. 

Alan Bennett, of Lingholme, Redcar, was shown on a video-link at Teesside Crown Court for a 10-minute during which no pleas were entered. 

He is charged with murdering mother-of-three Lynne Freeman, 46, and Jodie Betteridge, 30, on the evening of March 23.

Lynne Freeman, 46, and Jodie Betteridge
Cleveland Police

Police were called to Mapleton Crescent in Redcar, where Mrs Freeman lived, and then seven minutes later to Ms Betteridge's home in Byland Close.

The case was adjourned until June 22.

Elderly resident 'conned by bogus caller'

An elderly person was "conned" out of money by someone offering to pressure-wash and seal their driveway, police say.

On Monday a man called at a house in Houghton Cemetery claiming to be from a company called "Allianz Home Improvements" and offered to pressure wash and seal the driveway.

A price was agreed and the drive was cleaned by three men but it's believed they did not seal the drive and used water on it instead. 

The offenders wrote the victims details in a small book that also contained other names and addresses.

The men also delivered leaflets to nearby homes.

SAFC 'see losses rise by £8m'

BBC Sport

A snippet from today's Gossip Column:

Sunderland's pre-tax losses have risen by £8m to £25m after they narrowly avoided relegation last season, their latest accounts reveal. (Sunderland Echo)

Payday lender Wonga 'saw losses double in 2015'

The UK's biggest payday lender Wonga - which sponsors Newcastle United - saw its losses double last year as tougher regulation in the industry continued to bite.

Wonga website

The short-term lender saw pre-tax losses grow from £38.1m in 2014 to £80.2m last year.

It has overhauled the way it assesses applications for credit, and extended the repayment term for some loans.

Analysis: Why is Sunderland AFC's turnover down?

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Sunderland saw turnover cut by more than £3m last season to £101m because of a number of factors.

This included a £4m drop in ticket sales, and £2.8m less from TV money.

However, the club did take in an extra £2m in sponsorship and royalties compared with 2014, and made £1m more in conference, banqueting and catering.

Sunderland 'borrowed £86m to pay off existing loans'

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Sunderland football club borrowed £86m last season to pay off existing loans, accounts show.

The money was used to finance loans, including a £27.7m one with LSREF Wight Limited and a £38.6m overdraft with Barclays.

The amounts compare with the £15m it borrowed the previous year.  

BreakingSunderland football club posts £25m loss last season

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Sunderland football club lost £25m last season after narrowly avoiding relegation, according to new figures.

This compares with a £17m loss the year before.

It came as turnover dropped from £104m in 2014 to £101m last year. 

More to follow.

Stadium of Lights

Weather: Warm and dry with sunny spells

BBC Weather

After a cool start, a warm and dry day should develop, with sunny spells and a southwesterly breeze.

The sunshine may turn hazy under high cloud on occasion, this most likely in northern areas later in the afternoon.  

Check the weather where you are.

Could Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley rescue BHS?

BBC Business Live

Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct and Newcastle United, is reported to be putting together a bid for BHS, promising not to sack staff or close stores. But is he the ideal candidate to rescue the stricken store group?

He undoubtedly knows a thing or two about retail - having built a single sports shop into an international chain. And as the owner of Newcastle United, he knows about running an institution under pressure.

But he has received severe criticism for his treatment of workers, as well as widespread protests from fans, angry at his club's lack of success.

Read our feature on him here.

Mike Ashley
Getty Images

Travel: One lane blocked on A19

BBC Travel

There's one lane blocked and queuing traffic on the A19 northbound in Castle Eden before the A181 junction because of an accident and debris on the road. Congestion is back to the Bellows Burn Lane junction.

And there's heavy traffic on the A690 eastbound in Durham between The Gates Roundabout and Gilesgate Roundabout in the roadworks area.  

Get the latest travel news fore Tyne and Wear and Teesside.

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage

Rebecca Turner

BBC North East

Hello. It's a nice morning in most parts and feels much warmer than of late. Let's hope that's a sign of things to come.

We'll be here until 18:00 bringing you news, sport, weather and travel from across the North East.

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