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Could new Metros beat storm disruption?

James Harrison

Local Democracy Reporter

A new generation of Metros could prevent the kind of travel chaos caused by Storm Ali, the company says.

Fallen trees and other debris on overhead power lines saw disruption between Pelaw and South Shields on Wednesday.

But a revamped fleet, due to enter service in 2021, could make this a thing of the past, with the option for drivers to switch to an onboard battery when its usual power source is unavailable.

The £362m project will also provide comfier seats, phone charging points and air conditioning – as well as greater reliability.

A Nexus spokesman said: “The aim is to have a battery power supply in the new train fleet.

“That would mean trains could still be moved about the system in the event of a power supply problem or a section of overhead line being brought down in a storm."

Speaking at yesterday's meeting of the North East Combined Authority’s overview and scrutiny committee, Nexus managing director Tobyn Hughes said the new fleet could also be an "enabler" in aiding the extension of the Metro network.

Tyne and Wear metro
BBC

Fearful children question Fenham Library decision

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

Residents at Robert Stewart Memorial Church for a meeting about the future of Fenham Library
NCJ Media

Fearful children have told council bosses that they would be unable to use a community library if a drug and alcohol recovery hub opens there.

According to the authority, the plans will not pose risk to the community are vital to keep the library from closing.

More than 100 residents debated the plans in a meeting on Thursday night.

One 11-year-old girl told the crowd at the Robert Stewart Memorial Church: “I really like using the library, but after you change it my mum will be too busy to bring me and she would have to if it is exclusively for people recovering from drug addiction.”

Eugene Milne, the council’s director of public health, said the plan were a way of dealing with "swingering cuts":

“It is not a done deal. We are looking at how we can introduce this and address fears and worries people have expressed. I do not consider this to be an increased risk to the community.”

Earlier on Thursday, the council had announced that it has decided on a “phased launch” of the rehabilitation services in a bid to calm residents’ fears. Coun Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for sport, culture and public health, confirmed that a review of the hub will take place after three months, and that a risk assessment and safeguarding review will be carried out.

Eugene Milne, Newcastle City Council\'s director of public health, answers questions at a meeting about the future of Fenham Library
NCJ Media

Shipping Minister praises Port of Tyne's apprenticeship programme during visit

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Nusrat Ghani, visited the Port of Tyne yesterday.

He enjoyed a boat trip on the River Tyne and learnt more about Port of Tyne Enterprise Zone sites and the Port's commitment to creating apprenticeship opportunities.

Mr Ghani said: “The Port of Tyne is rightly proud to keep the country topped up with tea – handling 40% of all loose leaf imports – as well as boosting the economy as the UK’s second largest car exporter.

“Crucial to this is the port’s employees and it was great to see its apprenticeship programme supporting many young people, especially women, reach their potential.”

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport Nusrat Ghani visits the Port of Tyne
Port of Tyne
Tup Tup Palace: Two jailed after Newcastle club shooting
Two people have been jailed over the shooting of a nightclub bouncer in Newcastle.

Newcastle Falcons' plans for Kingston Park stadium cause dispute

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

Newcastle Falcons bosses are set to clash with residents over plans to use their Kingston Park stadium as an events venue.

The club wants to hold events, including the Living North Christmas Fair, in marquees on its west stand pitch. It has asked Newcastle City Council for a licence to sell alcohol until midnight, as well as playing music, dance, films, and indoor sporting events.

But residents are concerned the noise will disrupt their everyday lives.

Newcastle City Council's licensing sub-committee will decide on the application at a meeting next Tuesday.

Newcastle Falcons' Kingston Park stadium
NCJ Media

Men sentenced over Tup Tup Palace shooting

Michael Dixon and John Sayers
Northumbria Police
Michael Dixon and John Sayers

One man has been jailed and two others given further sentences after a bouncer was shot outside a Newcastle nightclub.

Bouncer Matthew McCaulay was seriously injured when a man opened fire with a sawn-off shotgun at the Tup Tup Palace in 2015.

John Henry Sayers (pictured above right) was given a three-and-a-half-year sentence at the Old Bailey on Friday after being convicted of perverting the course of justice.

Sayers, 54, and Michael Dixon, 50, both from Walker, had been cleared of conspiracy to murder.

Dixon (pictured above left) was found guilty of conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life and given a life sentence with a minimum of eight years. This will run concurrent to another sentence he is already serving.

Michael McDougall, 50, and of no fixed address, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

The convicted murderer was given two years to run consecutively after his current life sentence.

Tup Tup Palace
BBC

Library rehab plans criticised at heated public meeting

People in a Newcastle suburb are fighting back against plans to put a drug and alcohol recovery centre for addicts in the local library.

During a heated public meeting in Fenham last night residents said they felt deceived after the initial planning application referred to the unit as a "health and well being hub" with no mention of addiction services.

Local school heads have also said they were opposed, as children use the library independently and go to the swimming baths next to it.

Newcastle City Council said the facility would begin with reduced hours as part of a phased launch and the intention was to open it outside of school hours.

Heaton library public meeting
BBC

Durham Constabulary's new fluffy recruit

Here's the latest member of Durham Police:

View more on twitter

Don't take a rain check on this one!

Why does it rain "cats and dogs"? Have you ever said you are "saving for a rainy day"?

With downpours across the region, and showers on the way, now is perhaps a good time to reflect on why so many well-known phrases make reference to the rain.

Click on this link for an explanation of where some of them come from.

Rainy day
Getty Images

Storm Ali problems linger

The aftermath of Storm Ali is continuing to cause problems across the North East with thousands of homes and businesses still without power.

High winds blew roofs off houses, caused havoc for commuters on the trains and brought traffic to a standstill in areas due to fallen trees.

There was major disruption on the East Coast Main Line because of overhead line problems, and delays remain with passengers heading to York or Edinburgh out of Newcastle urged to check before travel.

Fallen tree
BBC

Pedestrian seriously injured in Newcastle

A pedestrian suffered serious injuries when she was struck by a car in Newcastle.

The 80-year-old was hit by a Skoda Roomster, which also collided with a stationary vehicle on Polwarth Crescent in the Brunton Park area.

Northumbria Police has appealed for witnesses to the incident at 15:24 on Tuesday.

The driver of the car was uninjured.

Second meeting over the future of Fenham Library

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

Residents in Fenham, Newcastle, will have another chance to express their concerns over plans to open a recovery hub for drug and alcohol addicts at a community library.

Construction work has already begun on Fenham library's revamp, but residents are furious that there was no mention of the centre hosting addiction recovery services throughout the process of obtaining planning permission and say instead, the council referred to it as a "health and wellbeing hub".

Residents confronting Newcastle City Council at Fenham Library
BBC

A Newcastle City Council Spokesperson said: "We are keen to allay the fears that have been expressed about drug and alcohol recovery provision in the site- there will be no percribing or clinical services present.

"The support offered is for people putting addiction behind then, helping them to get back to normality, employment and alternatives for healthy living."

The meeting will take place tomorrow from 18.00 at the Robert Stewart Memorial Church, in Wingrove Road.

Time to put her paws up

Lucy Moody

Journalist

Just in case you missed it - Look at those eyes.

We wish Durham sniffer dog and Police Interceptor star, Lottie, a speedy recovery.

View more on twitter

Kylie's in the North East

Lucy Moody

Journalist

Thousands of people will welcome Kylie Minogue to Newcastle tonight as she begins her Golden tour.

Tonight's concert is expected to be one of the biggest shows the Newcastle Arena has hosted this year.

If you're lucky enough to have a ticket, have a great night. I'm extremely jealous.

Kyle Minogue at BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park
Press Association

'I want to help other people like they helped me'

Lucy Moody

Journalist

Six-year-old Aflie Webster has set himself the challenge of making young victims of crime smile after his family home, in the Branksome area of Darlington, was broken into earlier this month.

Alfie and his mum Tanya launched a social media appeal to replace Alfie's stolen gadgets and say they were "overwhelmed with the response", within days, several people had donated a number of items to replace the ones that were stolen.

Now Alfie has decided he wants to donate similar items to other children who have been victims of crime

Alfie with his mum Tanya
Durham Constabulary

Anyone who would like to donate an item should contact Tanya directly through Facebook.

A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of burglary and the investigation continues.

Anyone with any information on the incident should contact Durham Constabulary on 101, quoting incident number 57 of 7 September.

Great North runner tells of life-saving effort

A man taking part in last weekend's Great North Run has told how he helped give emergency aid to a fellow runner who had collapsed.

Firefighter Nev Harris, who previously worked as a nurse, was among a number of people who sprung into action at about the six-mile mark of the event, which stretches from Newcastle to South Shields.

The 53-year-old, of Tyne and Wear, said: "I saw a guy by the side of the road. He was on his side with two people already with him.

"I checked his radial pulse, but it was very weak. He was struggling, his eyes were wide and his colour wasn't good."

After being joined by St John Ambulance volunteers and police officers, a shock was administered with a defibrillator followed by CPR.

Other runners and spectators formed a line to protect the runner's dignity and formed a human chain to enable the stretcher to be taken to a waiting ambulance.

"It was an amazing experience," added Nev, who was running in aid of The Brain Tumour Charity. "I get goose pimples thinking about it."

Nev Harris
Family handout

MP 'keeping the Newcastle accent'

A Newcastle Labour MP has stressed she's not trying to get rid of her Newcastle accent, after newspapers reported she'd claimed for £250 expenses for voice coaching.

The Telegraph, among others, said Chi Onwurah had had training with a voice coach who has previously worked for the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company, referring to the Newcastle Central MP's "mild Geordie accent".

Ms Onwurah said it was "media training that has been mislabelled as voice coaching".

"Media is an increasing part of my job and I know my constituents want me to be able to get their concerns across, with an often hostile media," she said.

"That can be hard for a working class girl from a council estate."

Chi Onwurah
Labour Party

"It's of course southern journalists who assume that someone from the North would want to lose their accent," Ms Onwurah said.

"I admit that I am concerned that spending so much time in Westminster with so many privately educated journalists, lobbyists and MPs might change my accent, in which case I might need voice coaching lessons in Newcastle to get it back."

Police officer Stephen Light recorded making neighbour threat
When Sgt Stephen Light was arrested he also said he felt let down by the police.

Confrontation over library plan

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

Residents opposing plans to open a recovery hub for drug and alcohol addicts at a community library confronted council bosses in a fiery meeting.

Dozens of furious neighbours packed into a small room in Fenham Library to take Newcastle City Council chiefs to task over the hugely controversial decision.

The local authority was accused of "doing things by the back door" and acting in "a deceitful and underhanded way" at the angry debate.

Throughout the process of obtaining planning permission for the project, council documents referred to the new development only as a "health and wellbeing hub" - with no mention of addiction recovery services.

The council admitted at the heated meeting on Thursday afternoon that it should have consulted more with residents, but maintained that the proposal is "necessary" to reduce the city's drug problem and to save the library from closure.

Many residents have said that they will not take their children to a centre used by recovering addicts, though the council stresses that it will not house clinical services, prescription distribution or a needle exchange.

Fenham library
BBC

Eugene Milne, the city's director of public health, said: "If we don't do this, we will lose the money. The money will go and the library will close.

"We won't have the facility and if we don't have the facility to support people getting off drugs and alcohol that means we will have more people who don't recover.

Residents demanded that building work to transform the library is halted until a full consultation is carried out.

However, Mr Milne told the meeting that he does not expect a new consultation will take place. The authority says that the new facility will be designed to support addicts and their families by providing access to private consultations, a gym and a café. There will also be health and nutrition advice, space for family activities, counselling services, and stop smoking support.

A number of residents said they feared drug dealers would target recovering addicts using the centre and that children could pick up pills and needles would be left nearby.

Councillor Kim McGuinness, the council's cabinet member for culture, sport and public health, promised that the council would have a "proper look" at reviewing its consultation process and that a second public meeting would be held at a larger venue next Thursday.

Alan Shearer gatecrashes Ian Wright's interview twice
Newcastle United's Alan Shearer gatecrashes an interview with Arsenal's Ian Wright... twice.

Durham Police to launch knife amnesty

Durham Police is launching a week-long knife amnesty inviting residents to hand them in at stations across the county.

Officers hope from next Monday anyone owning ornamental knives, weapons, or any items they no longer use will be placed in their "knife bins".

This campaign is ultimately about saving lives, and we do that by putting a spotlight on possession of knives to prevent this becoming an issue in County Durham and Darlington and to keep our communities safe from harm”.

Det Ch Insp GrayDurham Police
Image of blades
BBC

Is it legal to urinate in public?

Francesca Williams

BBC News

As Newcastle City Council warns amateur footballers they could be kicked off the pitch if they're caught weeing on it, we thought a handy guide to peeing in public might be useful.

So, is it allowed?

Possibly - as long as you are not "disorderly" about it.

According to The College of Policing, you could fall foul of local byelaws if, for example, you relieve yourself in a shop doorway.

But displaying more "exhibitionist" tendencies (in England and Wales) might lead to a charge of disorderly behaviour under Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act.

It appears confining your activities to the back wheel of your car (men) and a policeman's helmet (pregnant women) makes no difference - though we would not advise you to test the latter.

Thermal image of man urinating
Science Photo Library

Police officer 'took law into his own hands' say prosecutors

Some more reaction now to the two-and-a-half year sentence handed down to a Northumbria Police sergeant who attacked a Workington man with a metal kitchen roll holder.

In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service has said that as a police officer Stephen Light, 44, would have been "well aware of what is considered to be acceptable and lawful behaviour".

He was found guilty last month of hitting Andrew Grant on the back of the head at Mr Grant's home on Fountains Avenue in Workington.

The CPS and police have worked together closely in this case, recognising the need to robustly prosecute those who abuse their positions as officers of the law, in order to maintain public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

Gerard RogersonCrown Prosecution Service

Police officer jailed for attack

Mark Denten

for BBC Look North at Carlisle Crown Court

A Northumbria Police sergeant has been given a two-and-a half-year jail sentence for unlawfully wounding another man.

Stephen Light, 44, from Bede Close in Newcastle, (pictured at a previous hearing) was found guilty last month of hitting Andrew Grant on the back of the head with a metal kitchen roll holder at Mr Grant's home on Fountains Avenue in Workington.

Carlisle Crown Court heard the incident in April happened after Light's father and step-mother were involved in an alleged noise nuisance dispute with Mr Grant who lived next door to them.

The jury was told Light, who was off duty at the time, had drunk 10 pints of beer before the incident and was "boiling over with anger and resentment".

He was found not guilty of an additional charge of criminal damage.

Light, who has been a neighbourhood sergeant and police officer for more than 20 years, was dismissed by Northumbria Police last week.

Stephen Light
CRAIG MCGLASSON

'Don't wee on the pitch' warning

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

There's the right place for everything and the residents of Fenham would like it known that a football pitch isn't the one for relieving yourself.

A player was seen urinating in "in full view, making it as obvious as possible" on the King George V field in Fenham, a local councillor said.

Marion Talbot said residents had told her it had happened in the past and "they are fed up with it, as you would be".

She added that "not only is this disgusting, it's also a criminal offence".

The King George V playing field in Fenham, Newcastle
BBC

Newcastle City Council is investigating which team the man belonged to and has warned it could be banned from local authority pitches.

Ambulance staff welcome law to deter attacks on the emergency services

BBC Newcastle

The North East Ambulance Service has welcomed stronger powers to stop assaults on its staff.

Prison sentences for attacking any member of the emergency services are to double to a maximum of 12 months.

Between 2016 and 2017 there were almost 1,000 reported attacks on the staff from the North East Ambulance Service.

Image of ambulances
BBC

Watch: Firefighters' video of pub fire

Firefighters have been tackling a blaze at the Mill House pub in Springwell, Gateshead, this afternoon.

Here is video they have tweeted.

View more on twitter

UK backpacker Sam Oliver cleared of assault: 'I'm not a thug'

Sam Oliver should have spent the last six months backpacking around Australia.

But, after a drunken late-night fight in Sydney, he found himself at the centre of a media storm, accused of knocking out former Rugby Sevens captain James Stannard.

On Wednesday, after his lawyers argued he acted in self-defence, he was found not guilty of assault.

The 23-year-old, from Newcastle, said he would "'take the black eye and still go away'.

"I wish I could avoid the whole thing," he said.

Sam Oliver
PA

Part of Metro line to be closed

Metro line
Nexus

The Metro line between South Shields and Chichester is closing on 1 October for five weeks as part of the £21m development of the town's bus and Metro interchange.

Nexus, which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, has to carry out track and signalling upgrades so that Metro trains can serve the new interchange when it opens in 2019.

When the line is closed a replacement bus service will be provided.

Metro services will continue to operate as usual from Chichester towards Newcastle and Sunderland.