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  1. Updates on Friday 20 February 2015

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

Get involved

  1. Good evening

    That's all from BBC Local Live today. We'll be back from 08:00 on Monday.

    You can send your pictures by email to or tweet @BBCNewsNE and we may feature them on BBC Local Live tomorrow.

  2. Racecourses bosses in picnic ban U-turn

    Bosses at Newcastle Racecourse have reversed plans to ban picnics at summer race day meetings.

    Course owners Arena Racing Company say the ban was prompted by health and safety concerns as picnic furniture created "potential trip hazards" - a claim the Health and Safety Executive rubbished.

    People at Newcastle racecourse

    But now space for up to 4,000 picnickers is to be created with the course's existing Grandstand Enclosure. The course's executive director David Williams said officials had "listened to customer feedback".

  3. 'Tax on disabled?'

    Mark Denten

    Political Correspondent, BBC North East & Cumbria

    Campaigners have described plans by Newcastle City Council to introduce parking charges for disabled blue badge holders as "a tax on disabled people".

    Newcastle Council buildings

    The council's own staff with blue badges will also be expected to pay. A decision on the plans will be made next month. I'll have more on this story on BBC Look North at 18:30 on BBC One.

  4. Sunderland v West Brom

    After writing a letter to fans earlier this week, Gus Poyet will be hoping to keep them happy as the Stadium of Light plays host to West Brom.

    Captain Lee Cattermole could play his first game of 2015 after knee and groin injuries. Jermain Defoe may also return after missing the FA Cup defeat to Bradford.

    Match facts: The teams last met on the opening day of the season, when they drew 2-2 at the Hawthorns.

  5. 'Lack of women' in music industry

    Chris Long

    BBC News

    Women have played a prominent role in UK music for decades. But figures now show they in fact make up less than a sixth of the professional talent.

    For US singer-songwriter and BBC 6 Music DJ Jesca Hoop, women do not engage with the industry as much as men because of the issues they face when they do.

    The Unthanks

    The issue of image is one which rankles with many female performers. Rachel Unthank, who fronts North East band and BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners The Unthanks with her sister Becky, says the pair have had to deal with ignorant presumptions throughout their career. Read more about her thoughts here.

  6. Man City v Newcastle

    Newcastle, having only won one game in their last six in the Premier League, will be hoping to take three points away from the Etihad Stadium after facing Manchester City.

    Magpies defender Paul Dummett has been ruled out for up to three months with a knee injury, while Cheick Tiote is also out with a knee problem. Midfielder Remy Cabella is doubtful after picking up a knock in training.

    Match fact: Manchester City have won 10 consecutive league games against United, and they are unbeaten in 16 (W14, D2).

  7. 'Great to come back'

    Peter Harris

    Look North

    They promise supercars, explosions and ridiculous stunts - and this weekend the Top Gear team are in Newcastle with their live show.

    I caught with up with presenter Richard Hammond and found out more about how his career first started with the BBC - and in fact, he started in BBC local radio.

    Richard Hammond

    He said: "This is very much home ground for me, I worked at BBC Radio Newcastle, BBC Radio Cumbria, BBC Radio Cleveland and BBC Radio York was where I started 27 years ago. [The North East] is very familiar, I came past a lot of familiar places to get here and it's great to come back." I'll have more on this story on BBC Look North at 18:30 on BBC One.

  8. A1 closed after serious accident

    Some big problems on the roads - The A689 is closed in both directions between the Lydgate Lane junction in Wolsingham in County Durham and the A68 junction in Fir Tree because of a fallen tree and fallen power cables.

    And the A1 Belford Bypass in Belford, Northumberland, closed and there's queuing traffic in both directions between the B1342 junction and the Cragmill Road junction, because of a serious accident involving two vehicles. A diversion is in operation via the B6348 towards Chatton and Wooler, or through Adderstone via the Coast Road.

    Stay up to date with the latest travel here.

  9. NE wants to know who killed Lucy...

    Lloyd Watson

    BBC News

    If you still don't know who may have killed Lucy Beale, we won't spoil the surprise for you here, however we can tell you that last night's episodes of EastEnders attracted significant audiences across the North.

    The episode at 19.30 on BBC One reached 17.1% of all viewers in the North of England, the best performance for the soap in our area since 4 January 2011. The programme attracted an average audience of 2.57 million, the highest since New Year's Day 2012.

    Appropriately it was the East End of the North (or the North East, as it's more commonly known to you and I) that saw the strongest performance in the region; here, share for the first episode was 50%. The second episode at 21.25, also attracted high numbers, with an average audience of 2.4 million here and reach of 15%.

  10. History of derby kick-off times

    The last 13 derbies between Newcastle and Sunderland have kicked-off between 12:00 and 13:30 - April's meeting will be the first time the derby has kicked-off after 13:30 since 2006, and the first time for a 16:00 kick off since 2001.

    Graphic on derby games
  11. What's that sound?

    BBC Newcastle

    If you hear a noise in Jarrow, it's apparently the testing of boilers on board a floating oil producer.

    Kris Tatum took this video of it.

    Boiler testing
  12. News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 17:00 include:

    • BBC Tees: The family of a Teesside man who has been missing for four months say the last 17 weeks "have been torture".
    • BBC Newcastle: Jon Harle and Anne Leuchars have a round-up of the day's news.
  13. Derby 'latest kick off since 2001'

    The Wear-Tyne derby will kick-off at 16:00 on Sunday 5 April - the Easter Bank Holiday weekend

    Sunderland and Newcastle previously said Northumbria Police told them in January 2013 they would not support derby matches with kick-off times later than 13:30.

    The last 13 derbies have kicked-off between 12:00 and 13:30 - April's meeting will be the first time the derby has kicked-off at 16:00 since August 2001.

    Northumbria Police said they needed to sit down with the council and the clubs to discuss policing.

  14. Helicopter base closure 'difficult decision'

    The Durham Tees Valley Airport police helicopter base is to close as the National Police Air Service has confirmed plans to move to "a 15-base model".

    The 15 bases will be divided into four different regions and serve England and Wales. The base at Newcastle will remain open, however Teesside's base will close in 2016-17.

    Ch Supt Ian Whitehouse, said: "NPAS needs to find further substantial financial savings with a target of 14% of revenue cuts over the next three years. This is on top of the 23% savings already made. There is no easy way of doing this and difficult decisions have to be made."

  15. Long clear spells

    Hannah Bayman

    BBC Weather presenter

    Mainly dry through the evening and night with long clear spells allowing a frost to form in many areas. Isolated wintry showers are possible over the Pennines and Cheviots. Mainly light winds.

    Weather forecast

    Minimum temperature: -2C (28F). Check the forecast near you.

  16. Sampson names England squad

    Andy Lamb

    BBC Tees Sport

    England's Women head coach Mark Sampson has named his 23-player squad for the Cyprus Cup.

    Several North East-born players, including Carly Telford, Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes, Jill Scott and Jordan Nobbs have been named as part of the annual tournament next week.

    The lionesses reached the final of last year's tournament but lost 2-0 to France. England players will be making a claim for their place in the World Cup squad that's taking place in Canada during June.

  17. News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 16:00 include:

    • BBC Tees: The family of a Middlesbrough man missing since October say the past 17 weeks "have been torture".
    • BBC Newcastle: Jon Harle and Anne Leuchars have a round-up of the day's news.
  18. Middlesbrough v Leeds

    Middlesbrough will be hoping to stay on top of the Championship as they welcome Leeds to the Riverside Stadium on Saturday (12:15 kick-off).

    The pressure is on though as Leeds have lost only one of the last 12 meetings at Middlesbrough, winning four and drawing seven.

    Goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopoulos is suspended after being sent off in the midweek draw with Birmingham so Tomas Mejias is set to continue for Boro. Daniel Ayala's thigh injury will keep him out for a third game.

  19. Gypsy and traveller site plan shelved

    Plans for a Gypsy and traveller site in Hartlepool have been shelved after a review by council bosses.

    Two sites in Hart Village were designated as likely sites in 2013, prompting opposition from residents.

    Hartlepool Council has confirmed the proposal has been withdrawn from its revised Local Plan, which is to be adopted in 2016. The news has been welcomed by Hart Parish Council, which objected to the original plan.

  20. Five-legged sheep gives birth

    A sheep born with five legs has "defied the odds" by giving birth to two healthy lambs, a Northumberland farm has said.

    Quinto made news around the world after being born with an additional front limb at Whitehouse Farm Centre, in Morpeth, in 2013. Quinto's extra limb was removed in February 2014 after it became a "hindrance".


    She has given birth to Susie and Sofie, neither of whom have any extra limbs. Karen Lovatt, general manager, said the farm was "delighted" with the new arrivals. Quinto's extra limb was later removed after it became a "hindrance".

  21. News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 15:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: Campaigners have described plans by Newcastle City Council to introduce parking charges for blue badge holders as "a tax on disabled people".
    • BBC Tees: The Durham Tees Valley Airport police air helicopter base is to close.
  22. Newcastle v Wasps

    Newcastle Falcons take on Wasps in the Aviva Premiership tonight - kick-off is at 19:45 with build up from 18:45.

    Newcastle welcome back forwards Kieran Brookes and Josh Furno from Six Nations duty. Winger Noah Cato returns from injury in place of Alesana Tuilagi, but hooker Scott Lawson (cut eye) is out.

    Tom Catterick

    We'll have live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and you can

  23. BreakingTeesside's air support base to close

    The National Police Air Service has confirmed Durham Tees Valley Airport's police helicopter base will close in 2016-17.

    The base at Newcastle Airport will remain unaffected. We'll have more in this story soon.

  24. 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.

  25. Fine with some sunshine

    Jennifer Bartram

    BBC Weather

    It should be a mainly fine afternoon with some sunshine across most parts, and just the slight risk of an isolated shower. With moderate winds at times, it will feel rather cold, despite the sunny spells.

    Weather forecast

    Maximum temperature: 7C (45F). Check the forecast near you.

  26. News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 14:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: Campaigners have described plans by Newcastle City Council to introduce parking charges for blue badge holders as "a tax on disabled people".
    • BBC Tees: An East Cleveland village is getting A£1m to boost tourism and business. Skelton will receive the money from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
  27. Newcastle 'best looking city'

    Jonathan Miles

    BBC Newcastle

    I've just been speaking to Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie from BBC 6 Music ahead of the station's festival, which is taking place across Tyneside this weekend, and they had many pleasant things to say about the North East.

    Mark told me: "I know the North East very well, I love Newcastle, Newcastle is the best looking city in England, especially when you come across the bridge on the train. I've been saying that since I came to here to write a book about it years ago."

    Stuart Maconie, Jonathan Miles and Mark Radcliffe

    If you missed my interview with them, you can listen again here from 01:40:00.

  28. On the programme this afternoon

    BBC Look North

    The BBC's Top Gear Live takes over Newcastle's Metro Arena for the next three days.

    Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond are fronting the UK tour.

    Top Gear Live

    The show features a mix of supercars, breathtaking stunts and presenter challenges, alongside the world's largest cage of death where seven motorcyclists use centripetal force to circle a giant globe. And The Stig's in it too. Watch Look North at 13:30 on BBC One.

  29. News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 13:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: Newcastle's Theatre Royal is taking centre stage itself today after being recognised for making performances more inclusive for people with autism.
    • BBC Tees: It's claimed plans to remove thousands of street lights in County Durham will put lives at risk.
  30. Atkinson takes on Maigret role

    Consett-born actor Rowan Atkinson - best known for his comic turns in Mr Bean and Blackadder - is changing direction to play French detective Jules Maigret in new dramas on ITV.

    Atkinson will play the pipe-smoking sleuth in two films set in 1950s Paris.

    Rowan Atkinson

    "I have been a devourer of the Maigret novels for many years and I'm very much looking forward to playing such an intriguing character, at work in Paris during a fascinating period in its history," he said.

    Maigret was created by writer Georges Simenon and has been played on UK TV over the years by Sir Michael Gambon, Richard Harris and Rupert Davies.

  31. Wear-Tyne derby moved

    The forthcoming Wear-Tyne derby at the Stadium of Light has been moved to 5 April, Sunderland have confirmed.

    Newcastle v Sunderland

    The Black Cats were originally due to face Newcastle United on Saturday 4 April, but the game will now take place the following day, kicking-off at 16:00. It will also be broadcast on Sky television.

  32. Sage ready to rock

    The seats have been removed inside The Sage in Gateshead ahead of the BBC 6 Music Festival which takes place this weekend.

    Find out who is playing when here.

    Seats removed from The Sage

    However, tonight sees Mogwai, Interpol, Sleater-Kinney, and The War on Drugs performing at O2 Academy in Newcastle.

  33. News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 12:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: Police have arrested a man following a fire at a flat in Washington.
    • BBC Tees: Campaigners in County Durham are claiming that proposed changes to parts of the A167 could be fatal for pedestrians.
  34. Washington fire: Man arrested

    A man has been arrested following a fire at a flat in Washington.

    A fire broke out at an address on Collingwood Court on Thursday at about 22:15. A man inside was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

    A 41-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. He is currently helping police with inquiries.

  35. Katy waves at Durham

    Singer/songwriter Katy Anderson tweets: Heading north for the @BBC6Music festival. Here we come Tyneside! Will be waving to the Durham homeland as we pass.

  36. 'Warned off going to matches'

    The issue of racism in football has returned to the headlines this week after footage emerged of Chelsea fans preventing a black man from boarding the train on the Paris Metro.

    BBC Sport has spoken to fans from black or ethnic minority backgrounds to examine their experience of going to football in 2015.

    Gil Okai, 47, a Newcastle fan said:"When I first started going in 1976 I didn't find any major issues, but things definitely darkened in the mid 1980s when there was definitely a strong link with the far right. I can remember being warned off going to matches by the police in the late 80s.

    Gil Okai

    "I haven't got rose-tinted spectacles and if you move around the ground, you do get pockets where it isn't as positive but the fact white-skinned fans are draping the Senegal flag (in tribute to striker Papiss Cisse) over the side of the stadium is a great symbol."

  37. Helping young people into work

    More than £4m of Government funding is being used to encourage small businesses to give jobs and apprenticeships to young people in the North East.

    Five local councils - Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, Durham and Northumberland - have all today launched "Generation North East" aimed at helping 2,000 young people into employment.

    One in five young people - aged between 16 and 24 - is currently out of work in the North East.

  38. BBC 6 Music festival starts today

    6 Music BBC

    The BBC 6 Music festival starts today. It kicks off tonight at the O2 Academy then moves across the Tyne to the Sage in Gateshead on tomorrow and Sunday.

    Interview during 6 Music broadcast

    With more than 40 artists and DJs across six stages over three nights, the festival is bringing together established acts and emerging artists - and you can get updates on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #6MusicFestival.

  39. Question Time on iPlayer

    Here are the panellists that took part in last night's Question Time, which was filmed in Stockton.

    The guests for Question Time

    Among them was Darlington businessman Duncan Bannatyne, Scottish First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, Labour MP Caroline Flint, former Conservative deputy Prime Minister Lord Heseltine and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb. Catch up with Question Time on iPlayer.

  40. News on the hour

    The top local headlines at 09:00 include:

    • BBC Newcastle: Drivers could be owed tens of millions of pounds after paying what've now been described as ''unlawful'' parking fines.
    • BBC Tees: Concerns are being raised that cost-cutting measures are taking precedence over safety in County Durham.
  41. 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.

  42. Final lowering of regimental flag

    Colin Briggs

    BBC Look North

    Nearly 60 years of army history will come to an end in Northumberland today.

    Marching soldiers

    The regimental flag of the Welsh Gunners will lower for the last time today at Albemarle Barracks. The regiment made one last parade through the streets of Hexham in October.

  43. A1231 busy but moving

    The A1231 St Michaels Way in Sunderland is busy but moving between the A183 Livingstone Road roundabout junction and the Stockton Road junction.

    There are no reported major incidents on the roads across Teesside this morning. More on BBC Travel News for Teesside and Tyne and Wear.

  44. Fine and sunny later

    Jennifer Bartram

    BBC Weather

    After a chilly start it should be mainly fine with some sunshine across most parts, and just an isolated shower, mainly over the Pennines. Winds will be light or moderate westerly. Feeling chilly.

    Weather forecast

    Maximum temperature: 7C (45F). Check the forecast near you.

  45. Good morning

    Lloyd Watson

    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.