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Hospital staff 'abused' vulnerable patients

Nick Triggle

Health Correspondent

In case you missed it last night, the abuse and mistreatment of vulnerable adults at a specialist hospital has been uncovered by the BBC's Panorama programme.

Undercover BBC filming shows staff intimidating, mocking and restraining patients with learning disabilities and autism at Whorlton Hall, County Durham.

A police investigation has been launched and 16 staff suspended.

Cygnet, the firm which runs the unit, said it was "shocked and deeply saddened".

Hospital staff 'abused' vulnerable patients in Durham, BBC's Panorama reveals
Hospital staff 'abused' vulnerable patients in Durham, BBC's Panorama reveals
Undercover BBC filming shows staff swearing, mocking and taunting patients with learning disabilities.

Sinkhole causes A689 closure

Drivers on a route between County Durham and Cumbria are facing diversions this morning, after a sinkhole closed the main road through upper Weardale.

It appeared in the A689 at Wearhead, between St John's Chapel and Nenthead, yesterday, and is thought to be the result of a collapsed culvert from old mine workings.

A shorter local diversion is in place within Wearhead for residents and emergency services, but this is not suitable for HGVs or coaches.

However, pedestrians, and dismounted cyclists are able to pass the subsidence.

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Sinkhole closes road in Weardale

An emergency road closure is in place in Upper Weardale after a sinkhole emerged.

Durham County Council has closed the A689 at Wearhead in the interests of safety.

Road Closed on A689
Durham County Council

Temporary diversions will be in place tomorrow morning to allow for further investigations and repairs.

The footpath remains open for pedestrians, while cyclists can pass through by dismounting and proceeding on foot.

Durham County Council

Residents worry about being trapped by cycling event

James Harrison

Local Democracy Reporter

Ten-hour road closures for a mayor cycle event are leaving families and business worried they might end up trapped.

People living and working along the route of the 100-mile Vélo North are to meet organisers and Durham County Council.

Road closures for the event on Sunday 1 September are due to be in place in phases from midnight the night before until 19:00 on the day, from Fishburn in the east to Forest-in-Teesdale to the west.

There is particular concern about sections that encompass tourist attractions like High Force waterfall or which affect farmers in rural areas.

HIgh Force
Getty Images

Council strategic traffic manager Dave Wafer said the event "offers riders of all abilities the chance to cycle on closed roads".

“Unlike professional races where riders are grouped close together, rolling road closures are not possible for a mass participation event like Vélo North," he said.

“However, the closures will be implemented in stages to minimise disruption.”

May duty for County Durham gritting teams

We may be well into spring, but the weather seems to be stuck in winter mode, with frost reported overnight.

However, Durham County Council's gritting team was ready to makes sure roads were clear for early-morning travellers.

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Steph Houghton named in England squad

Durham's very own Steph Houghton has been named in the England squad for the World Cup in France.

She's already played more than 100 times for the Lionesses.

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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.

'Please mend my broken heart'

BBC Newcastle

A County Durham woman is appealing to the NHS to fund a vital operation.

Jessica Sadler was born with a hole in her heart, which was only found when she collapsed with a stroke on her 24th birthday.

Jessica, of Sedgefield, says she's been told NHS England won't pay for her operation even though it's available in other parts of the UK. Without it, there's a risk she could have another stroke.

The organisation says it's consulting on whether there's enough evidence to offer this type of operation in the future.

Local elections: What are they all about?

The local elections are taking place on 2 May.

We'll get to choose who decides on things like where houses get built, who runs the buses and which pubs get late licences.

But last year only one in three people went to the polls. So what is the vote all about?

Reporter Jennifer Meierhans explains

Local elections: What are they all about?

Injured crewman rescued from fishing boat

A crewman was rescued from a fishing boat at Hartlepool Marina after he suffered head injuries in a fall.

Coastguard rescue teams from Hartlepool and Seaham were involved in the operation on Monday after a call for assistance from the North East Ambulance Service.

The injured man was taken to hospital for treatment.

Fishing boat at Hartlepool Marina
Seaham Coastguard

'Flexible alternatives' sought for town's market

Regular specialist markets could be introduced in Chester-le-Street if a new operator can be found.

The Tuesday, Friday and Saturday markets had been managed by a private company on Durham County Council's behalf, but the contract has now expired.

No organisation has come forward interested in running it for three days so the authority is now seeking a more flexible alternative.

This could mean operating it on a less regular basis, or bringing in a particular type of market such as a craft or farmer’s ones.

Interested parties have until 26 April to submit their proposals.

Chester-le-Street Market Place

We understand how important it is to the town that the market continues so we are now asking operators what type of market they would be interested in running for us."

Owen Cleugh,Durham County Council’s consumer protection manager

Bad weather causes problems on the roads

BBC Newcastle

Take care if you're driving this morning as snow has been causing major problems on roads across the region.

There have been a number of accidents on the A1 in County Durham, with the road closed southbound between Washington and Chester-le-Street after a 10-vehicle crash.

The roads leading to the A1 roundabout to access the motorway from Chester-le-Street - that's the A167, the A183 and the A693 - have also been affected by black ice and slush.

In Northumberland, the A1 is closed in both directions between the A697 Longhorsley turn off and the junction for Alnwick South because of a serious crash.

That's expected to stay closed throughout rush hour.

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Durham councillors' HQ plan fails to sway parish counterparts

Durham Parish Council says it will continue to oppose the county council's move to new headquarters in the city.

That's despite failing to have the £50m plans called in by the Secretary of State. It argues the impact of the move from Aykley Heads to The Sands will damage city trade and tourism.

The county council recently agreed the plan, which it says will reduce costs and see the creation of a business park on its current site.

The Aykley Heads HQ opened in 1963, although a 2015 council report concluded it was an "over-sized inefficient building".

Artist's impression of Durham County Council's new headquarters
Durham County Council