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  1. Updates on Thursday 21 September 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

That's the end of our updates for today, thank you for being with us.

If you'd like to get in touch with us you can use @BBCNewsNE, email us, or contact us via our Facebook page.

Have a great evening. We'd like to end the day with this fantastic picture of the sunset at Consett. It was taken by Carolyn Farthing and features her son and the Teris Novalis sculpture.

We'll be back at 08:00 tomorrow morning.

Sunset at Consett
Carolyn Farthing

Tonight's weather: One or two lingering showers

One or two lingering showers at first this evening, These soon dying out to leave a dry night with clear skies. It will feel chilly with some fog patches forming.

Cloud developing from the west through the early hours.

Tonight's weather forecast

Head to the BBC weather page to check the forecast where you are.

'Highly visible' police presence in Gateshead following armed robbery

There have been more officers in Gateshead today to reassure concerned residents after an armed robbery last night.

At about 21:45, two men went into the Betfred store on Fewster Square armed with a knife.

The offenders made off with about £300 after threatening a female member of staff, who was the only other person in the premises at the time. The staff member was uninjured but was 'very shaken'.

The men were in their teens. Both had their faces covered and were wearing hoodies - one grey and one black. Anybody with information is asked to contact police on 101.

Shadow sports minister calls for change on 'dangerous' funding system

The Shadow sports minister Dr Rosena Allin-Kahn has called on the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association to go back on its decision not to fund a women's team.

The comment comes as a 'gutted' Mica McNeill, from Consett, County Durham announced she would have to fund her own trip to the Olympics as bosses admitted an 'overspend' had left them without money left to fund her.

In only two days, the top female driver has reached the £20k milestone of the £30k needed in order for her to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics, which takes place in five months time.

The BBC understands the BBSA believes their male colleagues represent better medal prospects, and that additional expenditure in the build-up to the Olympics means it may not now be able to afford a women's team.

Mica McNeill

We have a very dangerous system where the most successful sports get the greatest funding opportunities and the least successful get minimal amounts. It's simple logic that if you properly fund a sport, it will get results. The system needs to evenly distribute its resources. The women's team deserve the opportunity to succeed".

Dr. Allin-KahnShadow sports minister

150th birthday of Tyneside venue

The only purpose-built opera house from Newcastle to Derby to still operate using Victorian machinery celebrates 150 years of existence this week.

Opened in 1867, the Tyne Theatre and Opera house has survived closure, fire and even a stint as an x-rated cinema to become a venue widely regarded as one of the region's most loved.

A team of up to 30 people can work behind the scenes during a production to operate the wooden machinery that still plays a huge part in scene changes during a show.

Heather Ging is from the theatre's Preservation Trust.

What we've got to do now is raise the money to do renovation but to keep it the way it was and the way it was intended - as a theatre for the people, a glorious palace of leisure and recreation".

Heather GingTyne Theatre Preservation Trust

New Sunderland bridge reaches milestone

The first bridge to be built in Sunderland over the River Wear in 40 years has reached a major construction milestone.

The 'major' and 'complex' task of installing 28 cable stays on the New Wear Crossing has been completed.

Each strand of cable can lift the weight of four fully grown African elephants.

They will be removed when other essential construction work is completed - leaving the pylon and the bridge deck on display on the river.

Work continues towards the bridge's completion date of spring 2018.

New Wear Bridge
Sunderland Council

Middlesbrough to take on Bournemouth in Carabao Cup

BBC Sport

Middlesbrough will travel to Bournemouth following last night's draw for the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

The Teessiders clinched their place by beating Aston Villa 2-0 on Tuesday (pictured).

As we told you earlier, Sunderland won't be joining them after they were comfortably beaten by Everton at Goodison Park.

Among the other games, holders Manchester United will play away at Swansea City. Ties will be played on 24 October.

Middlesbrough's Patrick Bamford is brought down in the box by an Aston Villa player in their Carabao Cup third round game
Rex Features

Local heritage worth £1bn a year

A report from Historic England claims the North East's 'unique collection' of historic buildings brings £1bn a year to the local economy.

Historic buildings provide premises for businesses and homes and draw millions of visitors every year.

Through their repair and maintenance alone, they create £260m in construction output for the North East and £564m through tourism.

In total, the report claims heritage directly contributed £976m and employs more than 15,000 people directly.

Animatronic dinosaurs prepare to startle unsuspecting visitors
The life-size animatronic dinosaurs in Leazes Park are part of the Jurassic Kingdom tour.
Cyrus Christie

Defender Cyrus Christie says the "tight-knit" Middlesbrough squad revived his love of football after leaving Derby.

Read more

Two adults and a child escape Washington house fire

A family of three managed to escape their home uninjured after a fire, which police believe was started deliberately, broke out at their Washington home.

The fire started in the house in Bamburgh Close, Oxclose, at 01:30 when police say an accelerant was put through the letter box.

Police are appealing for anyone with information to contact them on 101.

Today's front page: Man given national recognition for bravery

Northumberland Gazette

Wooler man Paul Short has been awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery for his actions during a terrorist attack in Tunisia.

Today's front page
Northumberland Gazette

Find out more about A19 upgrade

Highways England will host two public consultation events to give people the chance to get information and have their say on proposals to improve journey times and driver safety on the Downhill Lane junction of the A19.

Plans include building a new bridge that will connect to the south of the existing one - allowing a new roundabout to be built above the road.

Southern slip roads which connect the A19 will be realigned and existing northern slip roads will become link roads to the Testos junction improvement.

This is an exciting scheme and we look forward to people coming along to find out more about the proposals and give us feedback.

Paul AhdalHighways England project manager

The first event will be held on Friday between 14:00 and 20:00 at the Bunny Hill Customer Service Centre on Hylton Lane.

The second consultation will be on Saturday between 10:00 and 15:00 at the Quality Hotel in Boldon.

Councillors say they won't be lied to over fertility unit

Hartlepool Mail


Councillors have moved to end a rift with hospital chiefs – but have vowed “we won’t be lied to”.

Hartlepool Mail front page
Hartlepool Mail

Newcastle venues among 'most beautiful' for gigs

Two Newcastle venues are among those BBC Music lists as among the most beautiful in the UK for gigs.

The article features Wylam Brewery and the Boilershop among others which it says make them stand out from the usual gig circuit.

Wylam Brewery (pictured) is in Newcastle's Exhibition Park in the former Palace of Arts from the 1929 North East Exhibition.

And the Boilership, which is behind Newcastle Central Station, is part of the historic Stephenson locomotive works.

Wylam Brewery
Wylam Brewery

Twins medal success at World Dwarf Games

Louise Hobson

BBC Tees reporter

Teesside sisters, Imogen and Amelia, have returned home from the World Dwarf Games with 14 medals.

The twins competed at the event in Canada in a mixture of competitive sports including swimming, basketball, archery, table tennis and running.

The 11-year-olds won seven medals each, a mixture of gold, silver and bronze. They said the wins came as a surprise, as they were amongst the youngest competitors in the games.

Imogen and Amelia were forced to go head-to-head in parts of the competition - they said it did make them mad at each other at times, but the whole experience was amazing.

Imogen and Amelia
Dean Richards

Rugby union will benefit from showcasing the game in Philadelphia, says Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards.

Read more

Tortoise stolen from city farm

Boris the tortoise is believed to have been stolen from Ouseburn Farm in Newcastle, police say.

Located in the Lower Ouseburn Valley, the farm is a registered charity which provides environmental and horticultural education and experiences for both children and vulnerable adults.

This is not the first time an a tortoise has been stolen from the site. Tomillina the tortoise was stolen, and then returned, in 2014.

Boris was taken between 12:00 and 14:15 on 18 September 18. Anybody with information is asked to contact police on 101.

Widow tells of heartache after husband's bleach tablet death

The widow of a care home patient who died after eating bleach tablets says she hopes "lessons have been learned" by health chiefs.

Joe Serginson, 85, who had diabetes and dementia, took a tub of the corrosive chlorine tablets from a trolley while staff at Balmoral Court in Byker were cleaning up a mess on 1 August last year.

He died three days later in hospital and Newcastle assistant coroner Karin Welsh yesterday ruled Mr Serginson "died as a result of ingestion of chlorine tablets not stored securely".

Mr Serginson's wife, Maureen, 82, said: "It has been difficult to hear the findings of the inquest and ultimately how Joe's death perhaps could and should have been prevented.

"My only hope now is that lessons have been learned which will ensure that an incident like this never happens again."

The inquest heard a carer had tried to get the tablets out of Mr Serginson's mouth and the home no longer uses the tablets and now has trolleys with lockable cupboards.

Balmoral Court nursing home, Byker

Sunderland and Everton support Bradley Lowery Foundation

Sunderland and Everton both wore shirts with the Bradley Lowery Foundation logo on them for their Carabao Cup clash last night.

The six-year-old Sunderland fan died in July after a long fight with neuroblastoma, a rare cancer. As well as Sunderland, he also appeared as a mascot for Everton.

The charity in his name will raise money to help children with cancer.

Sunderland players wear Bradley Lowery Foundation shirts
Getty Images

Class A drugs worth £6,000 recovered by police

Thousands of pounds worth of suspected heroin and cocaine have been seized by Cleveland Police in Stockton.

An address on Hawthorne Road was searched when officers executed a warrant on Monday night.

An 18-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of drug-related offences and has been released under investigation.

Cleveland Police

Busy day in the office for police dog

Cleveland Police dog Elsa had a hectic start to the working day when she helped catch suspected criminals in Ingelby Barwick in the early hours of the morning.

Police were alerted of a suspected burglary on Lyme Park at about 03:30.

Two boys, thought to be responsible, were caught by Elsa and Police Officers who traced one each.

A 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy were arrested on suspicion of burglary and remain in custody.

Cleveland Police

North East smokers turning to vape

Adam Clarkson

BBC Tees

Over the last 10 years, our region has seen a huge drop in the number of people smoking - e-cigarettes are thought to have helped.

The number of smokers in the North East is down from 29% in 2005 to 17% last year.

Getty Images

The figures come as the annual Stoptober campaign backs e-cigarettes for the first time. Vaping proved to be the most popular tool for quitting during the 2016 campaign.

Although not officially prescribed on the NHS, doctors are encouraged to advise smokers that vaping is a better alternative.

The Government campaign will feature vaping in its TV adverts for the first time this year.

How vaping works

Anybody need a hand?

The A19 was closed last night after a member of the public spotted a fake hand on the central reservation.

The discovery was made near Middlesbrough and police closed lanes as they investigated.

After closing the road, officers discovered it was a realistic looking severed hand.

Fake hand
Cleveland & Durham RPU

Term-time holiday fines 'a moneymaker for council,' mum claims

BBC Newcastle

A County Durham mum fined for taking her daughter out of school to go on holiday has criticised the way that money is spent.

Melissa Coulson Bell, of Peterlee, says the system is "just a moneymaker" for the local authority and school fines are a postcode lottery because some schools allow more days than others before issuing penalty notices.

The family was fined £120 after taking daughter Jessica, five, out of school in June for a holiday to the Greek island of Zakynthos.

Durham County Council told us money from fines goes towards the cost of issuing and enforcing notices and prosecuting those who don't pay.

It went on to say fixed penalty notices are issued as an alternative to prosecution for those who fail to ensure their child's regular attendance at school.

Stress takes toll on one-in-four ambulance staff

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

Nearly one in four ambulance staff in the North East took time off work in the last financial year because of stress, according to a GMB union Freedom of Information request.

The North East Ambulance Service says the health and well-being of its employees is of the "utmost importance" and that it's working hard to reduce sickness absence.

An ambulance

Today's front page: 'Don't let this happen to your son'

Sunderland Echo


The devastated parents of a Sunderland teenager who died after overdosing have today warned other families to be aware of the dangers of youngsters taking drugs prescribed for other people.

Sunderland Echo front page, Thursday 21 September
Sunderland Echo

Cricket: Durham trail Sussex by 25 runs

Martin Emmerson

BBC Newcastle

Durham closed day two against Sussex just 25 runs behind at 321-6.

Bad light stopped play with 10 overs to go with Graham Clark on 73. He'd been dropped earlier on 10 during a spell when Durham lost four quick wickets mid afternoon.

The wobble began when Cameron Steel was caught at deep mid wicket on 73, having put on 165 for the second wicket with Tom Latham. Latham then did the same thing four overs later and was out for 77 before Paul Collibgwood (4) and Michael Richardson (15) were soon gone too.

However Clark helped to settle nerves and put on 57 for the sixth wicket with Ryan Pringle (19). His seventh wicket stand with Brydon Carse (21) is worth 42.

Weather: Dry, breezy and cloudy

BBC Weather

Many areas will be dry and breezy first thing with rather cloudy skies, although it will feel warm.

Spells of rain, some heavy, will move eastwards late morning onwards.

Winds will ease by late afternoon with rain starting to ease and slowly clear.

Weather forecast, Thursday 21 September 2017
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (centre)

Dominic Calvert-Lewin scores twice as Everton beat Sunderland to claim their first win in seven games and reach the fourth round of the Carabao Cup.

Read more

Concert to raise money for young burns victims

A fundraising concert is being held to help children cope with being severely burned.

The Grafters Club was set up by a specialist nurse at the RVI in Newcastle to encourage youngsters to get together and talk about their experience and recovery.

Money raised from a concert at Newcastle's King's Hall this Saturday will go towards it.

It's backed by Sedgefield's Leo Gormley, who appeared in a TV campaign with Downton Abbey's Michelle Dockery to raise awareness

He was burned at the aged 13 while attempting to light a solderer's lamp with matches.

Ward 11 at the RVI

Welcome to BBC Local Live

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