Newcastle's former Co-op store redevelopment starts

Artist's impression An artist's impression of how the new development will look

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Work on a £17m project to turn a former "landmark" Co-op department store in Newcastle into retail and leisure outlets is under way.

The Grade II listed art deco building on Newgate Street, had been closed since 2007, though the food hall stayed open until 2011.

Now, it is being transformed into a 184-bed Premier Inn, along with retail and leisure units and an NCP car park.

The development is expected to be completed in December.

Interserve Plc, which is managing the project, said it will provide more than 450 jobs locally and "boost" local businesses.

A spokesman said: "It is great to see many of the iconic features of the building being sensitively replaced or restored while fully modernising the building for future tenants."

The six-floor building was bought by the National Grid UK pension scheme in March.

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BBC Local Live

    16:45: Ed Miliband reveals nurse plan

    Labour leader Ed Miliband popped into the BBC Tees studio today to talk to Neil Green.

    Ed Miliband interviewed by Neil Green

    He said his party will create 1,300 new nursing jobs for the North East should Labour win the General Election.

    Mr Miliband was also quizzed about the Redcar Labour troubles in the interview.

    16:34: Girls in court on murder charge

    Two girls, aged 13 and 14, wept as they appeared in court charged with murdering a 39-year-old woman.

    Angela Wrightson, 39, (pictured) was discovered by police at her home in Stephen Street, Hartlepool, in December, having died of blood loss after sustaining substantial injuries.

    Angela Wrightson

    The girls, appeared at Teesside Crown Court before Recorder of Middlesbrough Simon Bourne-Arton.

    He instructed all the barristers to take off their wigs for the hearing and the girls were not made to sit in the dock but were seated on the back row of the courtroom.

    The case was adjourned for a plea hearing on 20 May 20, ahead of a trial date set for 24 June.

    16:22: Boro bidding to retain top spot

    Championship table-toppers Middlesbrough face Nottingham Forest at the City Ground tomorrow afternoon as they look to extend their narrow lead over the chasing pack.

    Middlesbrough's Jelle Vossen (left) and Patrick Bamford

    Boro midfielder Mustapha Carayol is gradually building up his fitness after 11 months on the sidelines following a cruciate ligament injury, BBC Sport reports.

    You can watch highlights on The Football League Show or listen to score updates on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Tees. In addition, there will be text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

    16:10: Man in court over stab attack

    A man has been charged following a stabbing in Sunderland.

    Police were called to an address at Claremont Terrace yesterday. The victim, a 29-year-old man, is in a stable condition at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.

    A 33-year-old, of Claremont Terrace, was due to appear at Sunderland Magistrates' Court today accused on wounding with intent to commit GBH.

    16:00: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 16:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: Two senior politicians from opposite ends of the political spectrum are in the region today.
    • BBC Newcastle: Jon Harle and Anne Leuchars will have a round up of the day's headlines
    15:50: Seal has lucky escape after being attacked by dog on Redcar beach The Gazette
    15:37: Judges 'Heart' Steve's photo

    This photo of the Redcar Leisure and Community Heart, designed by +3Architecture, helped photographer Steve Mayes win the British Institute of Professional Photography North East region Photographer of the Year 2104 award.

    Redcar Leisure and Community Heart
    15:23: Old coal site bikers 'could be prosecuted'

    Off-road bikers using an old coal site in South Tyneside are being warned they face prosecution.

    Northumbria Police said they have received an increased number of reports of people riding their machines in the Follingsby Lane and the Follonsby Terrace area.

    Neighbourhood Sergeant Sean McGuigan said: "It is illegal to ride off-road bikes on public land - including roads and in parks. They can only ever be ridden on private land with the landowner's permission.

    "The old coal site is private land and the owners have not given any permission for it to be used, so anyone found on the land could be prosecuted."

    15:11: Protesters greet Ed Miliband David Rhodes Politics Reporter, BBC North East and Cumbria

    A group of former Redcar Labour councillors staged a protest as Ed Miliband visited the constituency today.

    protesters' banner

    Eleven councillors resigned from the party a last month over the way candidates were selected for this May's local elections.

    Ed Miliband spoke at Redcar and Cleveland College before answering questions from the audience.

    14:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 15:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: A former care home manager on Teesside says change is needed to end the neglect in some homes.
    • BBC Newcastle: A man from the North East is among 50 suspects arrested in a nationwide operation to tackle hacking and computer crime.
    14:52: Transporter Bridge to be back in action

    Teesside's Transporter Bridge gondola is set to reopen on Monday following completion of the latest phase of the structure's refurbishment, Middlesbrough Council has announced.

    Transporter Bridge

    The gondola has been renovated and the local authority says crossings for drivers and foot passengers will be free for the first four weeks.

    Work will continue on the bridge's new lift, visitor centre improvements and heritage trail. The £4m project has been beset by delays since the structure closed in August 2013.

    14:41: Tell us your views

    We've introduced BBC Local Live, which is written by reporters across the North East, to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. Tell us what you think.

    14:32: Boris Johnson supports A1 dualling

    The Mayor of London Boris Johnson says the whole of the A1 in Northumberland should be upgraded to dual carriageway.

    In December, the Prime Minister David Cameron said a 13-mile stretch of the A1 north of Newcastle to Ellingham would become a dual carriageway. But campaigners have long called for the road to become dual carriageway all the way to Scotland.

    During a visit to the North East when he was asked about dualling it, Mr Johnson's response was "do it, do it."

    Boris Johnson

    He went on to say: "As you can imagine it's not a road I use every day, but what I can certainly tell you from my experience in London is that investment in transport infrastructure is the thing that pays off in the long term.

    "And you can now find very creative ways of financing this."

    14:21: Bishop calls on Virgin Money to 'think again' The Journal Newspaper
    14:12: What have the Romanians ever done for us?

    Find out what it's like to be an EU immigrant tonight when the BBC's Inside Out meets Bogdan.

    Inside Out

    He's a Romanian who has taken up a job in healthcare.

    It comes as analysis by the University of Oxford estimates the migrant population of England has risen by 565,000 since 2011, with two-thirds coming from the EU.

    13:58: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 14:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: Protests are set to continue at the new waste-to-energy plant at Wilton amid claims SITA UK is favouring overseas workers.
    • BBC Newcastle: A North East man has been arrested by police as part of a national week-long crackdown on cyber crime.
    13:43: 'Difficult financial position'

    Following the announcement that the finances at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust are to be investigated by health regulator Monitor, the trust's chief executive Ken Bremner described its current financial position and challenges facing it as "difficult".

    He said: "We will co-operate fully with the team from Monitor during their investigation.

    "After a recent positive CQC inspection the Trust's priority continues to be the care of our patients and we will work towards improving our financial position without compromising quality and patient safety."

    13:29: Sunny spells but some drizzle

    Cloudy but bright with sunny spells this afternoon, the best of these in the east. Staying mostly dry but some drizzle is possible over the cheviots and Pennines. Turing increasingly windy with gusts reaching gale force over and to the east of hills.

    weather graphic

    Maximum Temperature: 10C (50F)

    13:17: On Look North at lunchtime Colin Briggs BBC Look North

    Two senior politicians are in our region this afternoon - from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

    The Labour leader Ed Miliband is on Teesside where he has been taking part in a People's Question Time event at Redcar and Cleveland College with members of the public this lunchtime.

    Meanwhile, the Conservative mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is also in the region. Mr Johnson has been visiting Conyers School in Yarm.

    Find out what they had to say on our lunchtime bulletin on BBC One at 13:30.

    13:06: Taxi driver robbed at knifepoint

    A taxi driver has been robbed at knifepoint in Newcastle.

    Two men, both wearing hoodies and thought to be in their 20s, threatened the driver in a lane off Canterbury Street, in Byker, just after midnight.

    He managed to get out of his car, a Skoda Octavia, before the attackers drove the vehicle away in the direction of Welbeck Road.

    12:57: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 13:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: There are set to be further protests at the Wilton site over the coming weeks.
    • BBC Newcastle: A North East man has been arrested by police as part of a national week-long crackdown on cyber crime.
    12:51: Boris Johnson in the North East Mark Denten Political Correspondent, BBC North East & Cumbria

    On a visit to the North East Mayor of London Boris Johnson tells students in Yarm that "technology is driving not just London's economy but the whole of the UK's economy."

    He described the link between the North East and London as a "dense umbilical connection" and said Stockton produces all sorts of things which are indispensable for London - listing matches, railways and Big Ben...

    12:40: Sing-a-long-a-UKIP David Rhodes Politics Reporter, BBC North East and Cumbria

    Stockton North UKIP candidate Mandy Boylett has been singing her own version of Abba's Chiquita - taking a shot at David Cameron and his stance over the EU.

    Mandy Boylett

    You can watch the video on YouTube by clicking here.

    12:31: Newcastle teenager reported missing

    Police are appealing for help finding a missing teenager.

    Vera Chirwa

    Vera Chirwa, 17, was reported missing yesterday after not returning to her home in the East End of Newcastle. It is thought she may have travelled to London.

    She is 5ft 3ins, of slim build with brown hair and wears glasses. It is thought she was also wearing a purple fluffy jacket, black trousers and black shoes.

    12:22: Hospitals 'under increasing strain'

    Responding to the news Monitor is to investigate its financial situation, Ian Renwick, chief executive at the QE Gateshead, said: "Like many other NHS organisations across the country, Gateshead is facing an increasingly challenging financial landscape.

    Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead

    "The local healthcare system is coming under increasing strain and at the QE we have seen unprecedented demand for our services this winter. Despite this, we continue to provide the highest levels of care for our patients and have been consistently recognised as one of the best performing hospitals in the country.

    "Several similar trusts are facing the same financial issues and we're working very hard to develop a range of plans that will improve the financial position."

    A Monitor probe is automatically triggered if the money spent by a health trust varies from the plan set out at the start of the financial year.

    12:08: Health trusts' finances probed

    Health regulator Monitor has launched an investigation into finances at two North East health trusts.

    Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust will be put under the spotlight.

    Paul Chandler, Monitor's regional director, said: "We have launched these investigations to find out more about the financial situation at each trust and to establish what can be done to improve things."

    11:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 12:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: Protests are set to continue at Teesside's new waste-to-energy plant over claims local workers are being ignored in favour of overseas ones.
    • BBC Newcastle: A man from the North East is one of more than 50 people arrested in a nationwide operation against computer and internet crime.
    11:46: ‘Pay freeze’ continues for South Tyneside councillors The Shields Gazette
    11:34: Man arrested in hacking probe

    A North East man has been arrested by police as part of a national week-long crackdown on cyber crime.

    Officers from the North East Regional Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) arrested the 51-year-old in Houghton-le-Spring yesterday.

    He was arrested on suspicion of gaining unauthorised access to computer material. It followed an allegation a company website was hacked in January.

    He has been bailed pending further enquiries.

    11:22: Drivers get 10-minute parking leeway

    There's good news for drivers today as the government has announced they will get 10 minutes' grace before being fined if they stay too long in council-owned car parks in England.

    Parking warden

    The new leeway, expected to take effect later this month, will apply to free and paid-for parking spaces both on streets and in off-street car parks.

    Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said he wanted to end the "war on drivers".

    11:09: Road accident near Angel of the North

    The Highways Agency tweets: #A1 (N) J65 - J66 near #AngeloftheNorth #A167 #Tyneside. - emergency services heading to accident - 2 lanes blocked! - expect delays!

    10:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 11:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: Hundreds of people demonstrated over claims of low pay at the SITA waste-to-energy plant on Teesside and allegations the company is favouring overseas workers.
    • BBC Newcastle: A man from the North East is one of more than 50 people arrested in a nationwide operation against computer and internet crime.
    10:51: Give us your feedback

    We've introduced BBC Local Live, which is written by reporters across the North East, to bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather all in one place. Tell us what you think.

    10:40: Police uncover jewellery, knives and tools in house raid Hartlepool Mail
    10:28: Cram's on his marks for athletics coverage

    Fans of athletics will be keeping tabs on events at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.

    Steve Cram in Prague's athletics stadium

    As ever, North East running legend Steve Cram is part of the BBC Sport commentary team.

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson leads in the pentathlon with fastest 60m hurdles time of 8.18s. You can watch it on BBC Two as well as the BBC Sport website.

    10:15: Analysis shows effect of immigration

    The population of England has risen by 565,000 since 2011 because of immigration, a major analysis by the University of Oxford estimates.

    The figures suggest the migrant population of every local authority in the country may have risen. Two-thirds of the rise is attributed to people from the European Union.

    Foreign-born population graphic

    The figures estimate the North East's foreign-born population is 155,200, an increase of more than 15% between 2011 and 2014. In London, almost 3.2m people in the capital are now born abroad - 200,000 more than at the time of the last census.

    09:58: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 10:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: The boss of Teesside's new Waste to Energy plant insists the company is doing enough to employ local workers.
    • BBC Newcastle: Analysis suggests immigration has led to a big increase in England's population - including 60,000 EU migrants in the North East and Cumbria.
    09:51: Body found on Haymarket roof near M&S

    A man's body has been found on a roof near the back of Marks & Spencer at Haymarket in Newcastle city centre.

    It was discovered just after 03:45 today and police, ambulance and fire crews attended.

    Northumbria Police say there was no third-party involvement. A report will be prepared for the coroner.

    09:43: Chloe Beaney back to school after heart transplant

    Watch as Chloe Beaney went back to school for the first time since having her heart transplant.

    Chloe Beaney

    She had been top of the transplant list at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital and a heart donor was found following a wide appeal. She had the successful operation in November.

    The 15-year-old was applauded by her classmates when she arrived back at school.

    09:33: Cisse spitting row hits back pages BBC Sport

    Plenty of fun has been had by headline writers thanks to phlegm-gate, involving Manchester United's Jonny Evans and Newcastle's Papiss Cisse, BBC Sport says.

    Metro pack page

    "Spat's A Rap" says the Metro as Cisse faces up to the possibility of a seven-game ban after accepting an FA charge of spitting.

    09:20: In the news today
    09:09: Prison drugs 'a horror story'

    A former inmate of HMP Northumberland has told the BBC that drugs and alcohol are easy to find in the prison.

    HMP Northumberland

    Speaking under the condition of anonymity, the former prisoner said problems are rife at the jail near Morpeth.

    Sodexo, the company that runs HMP Northumberland, admitted there are difficulties but insisted issues are being tackled.

    08:59: News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 09:00 are:

    • BBC Tees: The boss of Teesside's new Waste to Energy plant has told BBC Tees he's mystified over the decision of workers to hold protests over pay.
    • BBC Newcastle: Analysis suggests immigration has led to a big increase in England's population - including 60,000 EU migrants in the North East and Cumbria.
    08:50: UKIP candidate quits in military service row Sunderland Echo
    08:39: The online-only banking revolution

    How often do you pop into your bank in person these days?

    Piggy banks being made in China

    More and more of us are completing transaction on the internet - and more and more companies are trying to win a share of the online market, as BBC Business reports.

    Among them is Atom Bank, which is poised to launch later this year with its headquarters in Durham.

    08:21: Tyneside homes plan backed

    An independent planning inspector has effectively backed the building of 30,000 homes around Newcastle and Gateshead, BBC Newcastle reports.

    Bricklayer at work

    Campaigners have fought against some houses being built on green belt land.

    The planning inspector suggested some modifications to the plan, but has supported the idea of altering the boundaries to allow the homes to be developed.

    Newcastle and Gateshead councils will discuss the next stage at their full council meetings later this month.

    08:12: Today's forecast

    It will be rather cloudy across the North East today with some bright spells, the best of these in the east.

    Weather forecast

    Staying mostly dry, some drizzle is possible over the Pennines.

    It will turn increasingly windy through the day with gusts reaching gale force over hills.

    08:05: On the roads Gilly Hope BBC Newcastle

    There's congestion on the A181 at Cassop, Durham, with queuing in both directions at Silent Bank.

    Across the region there are no reports of serious delays or accidents, which will be good news if you're on your way to work.

    08:00: Good morning Simon Armstrong BBC News

    Welcome to BBC Local Live. I'll be bringing you news, sport, weather and travel updates from across the North East.

    If you'd like us to feature your comments or pictures, send them to us by email, tweet us @BBCNewsNE or join our Facebook page.



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