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Fire service criticised by watchdog

Nisha Joshi

BBC broadcast journalist

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service has been criticised in a report by the Fire Service Watchdog.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said the service required improvement over the next 12 months - particularly in its work in understanding the risk of fire and other emergencies, and responding to them.

It also called for improvements in training.

In response, the service said it had worked hard to address the issues highlighted and that the report did point out that it was good at responding to national risks.

Neighbouring Tyne and Wear Fire Service was rated as good overall.

Northumberland fire engine
Northumberland County Council

House to be used for care placements

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Daniel Holland

The former home of Newcastle United co-owner Freddy Shepherd will be turned into a children's care facility despite neighbours' fears over anti-social behaviour.

The Action for Children charity has been given permission by Newcastle City Council to transform the building in Westacre Gardens, Fenham, where Mr Shepherd lived before taking over the club.

The council's planning committee agreed unanimously saying it will help to keep children close to their friends and family rather than being forced out of the area.

Objections to the plan included that it would have a “hugely negative impact” on neighbours’ privacy, as well as causing parking problems in the street and concerns about anti-social behaviour.

Kath Lawless, the council's assistant director of planning, said Northumbria Police had raised no objection to the plans and that the risk of anti-social behaviour would effectively be the same as any normal family home where there might be “unruly children”.

The home will be used to provide long-term care placements for up to four children aged between 12 and 18, rather than emergency care, and would also house a maximum of three staff.

Drivers make successful pothole damage claims

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

Motorists whose cars were damaged by potholes were successful in about 60% of claims against Northumberland County Council, figures show,

In 2018-19, drivers made 253 claims, of which 150 were successful, according to Freedom of Information (FOI) Act figures.

Motorists can only claim if the authority responsible for the road has been negligent and councils have a statutory defence that they cannot be held liable for a defect they are not aware of

In the 2017-18 financial year, there were a larger number of claims - 407 - but 40% (167) were successful.

The total cost to the taxpayer of the successful claims, including legal fees, was £45,966.07 in 2018-19, up from £41,889.10 the previous year.

pothole patching

In April, we reported that Northumberland filled in more potholes last year than any other council in the country.

FOI requests showed that the local authority repaired 69,506 potholes in 2018, 14,633 more than the next best performing council, Lincolnshire.

A Northumberland County Council spokesman said there was a big spike in damage to roads as a result of the bad winter of 2017-18 culminating in the Beast from the East.

“The greater number of defects may have led to more claims than usual being received and more being successful," he said.

“We continue to take the quality of road surfaces and repair of potholes very seriously – and invest considerable time and resources in making ongoing improvements to our road network.”

Severe disruption: A1 Northumberland northbound

BBC News Travel

A1 Northumberland northbound severe disruption, from B1340 to A1167.

A1 Northumberland - Stationary on A1 northbound from Alnwick North Junction to Scremerston roundabout, because of a temporary closure and an overturned lorry.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Body found following flat fire

A person has died in a fire at a first-floor flat in Northumberland.

Three crews from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service attended the blaze on Milburn Road, in Ashington, at 23:40 yesterday.

The fire had spread throughout the first floor and roof before the body was found.

The cause of the blaze is not yet known and an investigation is ongoing.

Decision delayed on Northumberland hilltop artwork

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

A decision about plans for a £1m public artwork almost three times the height of the Angel of the North has been delayed.

Lord Devonport wants to place the 56m (184ft) Elizabeth Landmark on the summit of Cold Law, near Kirkwhelpington in Northumberland.

It was recommended for approval at Northumberland County Council's strategic planning committee meeting yesterday.

After almost two hours of debate, a motion to approve the proposal was voted down by eight votes to six, before a motion to defer the decision so that members could go on a site visit was passed by 12 to two.

This caused confusion among those in attendance, who thought that the monument had been turned down.

However, as is always the case with planning decisions, a separate motion to refuse, with valid planning reasons, would have been required to reject the application.

Planning officers felt that the "wider public benefits of a major new landmark public art feature" and the tourism opportunities outweighed any negatives, but not all locals shared this view, with objections from 29 residents plus Corsenside Parish Council.

Artist's impression of Elizabeh Landmark

Train disruption between Newcastle and Berwick

Rail passengers travelling between Newcastle and Berwick are facing disruption as a train has broken down.

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Hilltop monument proposal decision due

A decision about plans for a sculpture nearly three times the height of The Angel of The North will be made later.

Lord Devonport wants to erect the 183ft (56m) tall steel structure on his estate on the summit of Cold Law near Kirkwhelpington, Northumberland.

He said the £1m Elizabeth Landmark would commemorate the Queen and the Commonwealth and believes it will boost tourism in the area.

The structure has been designed by Simon Hitchens and features a large steel spire pointing at an angle towards the sun.

Today Northumberland County Council will decide whether to grant permission.

Simon Hitchens

Conservation protection for coastline

Part of the North East coast has been included in a swathe of new marine conservation zones announced by the government today.

The stretch between Berwick and Whitley Bay is home to species such as seals and dolphins, and is an important breeding ground for the common eider duck.

It is one of 41 such "blue belt" areas around the UK, aimed at safeguarding the marine environment.

However, campaigners fear the designation will not restrict activities like commercial fishing enough to make a big difference.

Dunstanburgh Castle

'Unusual' hilltop monument proposal set to get go-ahead

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

An "unusual proposal" to build a new monument, almost three times the height of the Angel of the North, is expected to get the go-ahead next week.

Earlier this year, plans were lodged for the construction of a publicly-accessible landmark, commissioned to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II and the Commonwealth, on the summit of Cold Law, near Kirkwhelpington.

Known as the Elizabeth Landmark, the idea for the £1million, 56-metre structure was put forward by philanthropist and retired architect, Lord Devonport, or Terence Kearley.

The planning officer's report of councillors said: "This is an unusual proposal which does not lend itself easily to a conventional site-based evaluation of impact.

"The wider public benefits of a major new landmark public art feature need to be seen in light of the strategic importance attached to place-based tourism in Northumberland."

Ascendant by Simon Hitchens

It has been recommended for approval when it goes before Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee on 4 June.

First region declares: Labour and Brexit Party win in North East

Severe disruption: A1 Northumberland both ways

BBC News Travel

A1 Northumberland both ways severe disruption, near A1167.

A1 Northumberland - A1 in Berwick-upon-Tweed partially blocked in both directions near Scremerston roundabout, because of a broken down crane. Traffic is coping well.

To report traffic and travel incidents dial 0330 123 0184 at any time

Another bid launched to give former hotel new lease of life

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

A third bid to redevelop a former hotel in a north Northumberland village into flats has been submitted.

The Ryecroft Hotel in Wooler already benefits from planning permission for the buildings to be converted into housing, but another application has now been lodged.

Efforts to bring the site, on the corner of Ryecroft Way and the A697, back into use have taken place over a number of years with the long, drawn-out planning saga starting back in 2013.

The former Ryecroft Hotel in Wooler

The latest application proposes the conversion of the original building into nine two-bedroom apartments, while there would be an added storey to the west and north flanks.

A planning statement suggests the bid "will not have a detrimental effect on the aesthetics of the building or on the wider neighbourhood".

Grant Rose

Charlie Mann

BBC Scotland

Berwick Rangers' demotion from the Scottish Professional Football League has been "years" in the making, says incoming chairman John Bell.

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Northumberland woman's killer is dying from cancer

BBC Newcastle

Australia’s most infamous serial killer has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Among his victims were two British backpackers. One of them - Caroline Clarke - was from Slaley in Northumberland.

The 22-year-old was killed in 1992, one of seven people killed by Ivan Milat, who was jailed for life in 1996.

It's reported in Australia that the 74-year-old has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer which has spread to his stomach and that he's unlikely to return to solitary confinement.

Ivan Milat, laughing as he leaves the Supreme Court after representing himself in his appeal against conviction in July 1996 of the murders of seven backpackers, 4 November 1997
Getty Images

Ivan Milat was photographed laughing as he left the Supreme Court in 1997, after representing himself in his appeal against his conviction.

Holiday park could be built in old Longframlington quarry

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Plans to create a holiday park at a disused quarry on a Northumberland farm are recommended to get the go-ahead, despite parish-council concerns.

Planning application showing proposed location of new holiday park
One Associates Ltd

The outline application is for 35 units of accommodation, a mix of luxury chalets, static caravans and camping pods, at Framhill Farm, to the north-west of Longframlington.

The site is proposed to be accessed from a new junction off the A697.

The application is recommended for approval at next Tuesday’s meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council.

However, Longframlington Parish Council has raises concerns about the additional visitors it will bring to the area.

The traffic on the A697 has already increased by some 10,000 vehicles year on year which already causes many issues throughout the village and creates major parking issues at the village centre. The A697 is dangerous enough it does not need this extra volume."

Parish councillorLongframlington Parish Council

Milfield development plans for former school resubmitted

A bid to build 30 new homes on a former north Northumberland school site is back before councillors next week.

A resubmitted application for the former county first school site in Milfield, north of Wooler on the A697, is again recommended for approval when it goes before the North Northumberland Local Area Council for a decision next Tuesday.

The school has not been in use since 2009 and the "closed and overgrown" site, off Wheatriggs, is to be sold to the applicant, Gleeson Homes, by the county council.

The British Masters returns to the North East

The British Masters golf tournament will return to Close House in Northumberland next year.

The tournament will be hosted by former world number one Lee Westwood from 30 July 30 to 2 August 2020.

The prestigious competition was held at Close House in 2017 when it was won by Paul Dunne.

Lee Westwood
Getty Images

New Berwick hospital to be built on current Infirmary site

Berwick Infirmary
Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust

Berwick's new hospital will be built on the site of the current Infirmary, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have announced.

The decision comes after a review of alternative sites, as well as a consultation.

Janet Guy, chair of Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group said: “This is great news for Berwick and we are delighted to see the project moving forward in a way that meets the needs of the local community.

“We very much look forward to working with Northumbria Healthcare to provide a first class health facility for the people of Berwick.

“It’s very exciting and is brilliant news for both the NHS and the town.”

The new, "future proofed" facility will receive an investment of more than £25m.

All current services will be retained, with a view to incorporating more in the future.

Previous proposals included developing a joint site with the Swan leisure centre

Results reflect national picture, as big two lose out

Laura Kuenssberg

BBC political editor

It's not over - it's far, far from over.

Many hundreds of seats are yet to declare. Many individual political stories yet to be told. So be very aware - the final shape of wins and losses for the government and the main opposition is unclear.

But at this stage of the morning, there is one message to both of the main parties at Westminster from this enormous set of elections - it's not us, it's both of you.

Polling station in country

Local elections are about different issues in our villages, towns and cities. But at count after count, Tory and Labour candidates have been paying the price for Westminster's failure so far to settle the Brexit question. Council leaders from both parties saying openly that voters can't trust them any more because of how they have dealt with the issue - whether that is a sentiment among Leave voters in Sunderland who don't trust that we'll ever leave, or Remain voters in Bath who are furious that we likely will.

Or more simply maybe, now we are nearly three years on from the referendum itself, this is a verdict on the competence of Westminster's biggest parties, on the mess of handling Brexit.

The beneficiaries? A Lib Dem recovery of sorts, a marked pick-up for the Greens, and independent councillors gobbling up seats in different pockets of the country. By traditional measures at this early stage, Labour is far from making the strides of a party marching towards Number 10. The Tories have so far escaped the worst. But their divisions over Brexit have cost them both - and neither of them have an obvious way out.

But as I say, many more results are yet to come in, and you can keep up with them here throughout the day.