England, United Kingdom

Latest Stories

Former officer denies detention centre sex charges

PA Media

A former prison officer at a detention centre has denied misconduct in a public office and a string of sexual offences and assaults against young inmates dating back to the 1970s.

Ian Nicholson, 74, who worked at Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham, appeared before a judge at Teesside Crown Court to plead not guilty to all eight offences that he faces.

Co-accused Alexander Flavell, 86, who is also charged with misconduct and sexual offences from his time working at the detention centre, was not asked to enter pleas, pending the outcome of a medical examination.

Mr Nicholson, who used a walking aid to leave court, faces a charge of misconduct in a public office, three counts of a serious sexual offence and four counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Judge Howard Crowson listed the four-week trail to take place next November and granted both men unconditional bail.

He told them: "I'm afraid the trial is a very long way off."

The judge imposed a reporting restriction which prevents the media from publishing either defendants' address.

Medomsley Detention Centre closed in 1988 and was intended to house teenagers who had committed relatively minor offences.

In photos: Lumiere draws to a close

As the lights go out for another year, it's believed one million people have now visited Durham's Lumiere since the event began a decade ago.

The 2019 edition, which drew to a close last night, featured 37 artworks, including a giant slinky and a snow-globe over the horse statue.

Here are some images of the highlights.


Gritting teams are ready for the cold

Winter's here and council road gritting teams across the region are on stand-by for the ice and snow.

Durham County Council says its 76-strong fleet of gritters and snowblowers is ready and waiting for the colder weather.

There are 42,000 tonnes of salt ready to tackle the ice and any snow, with more than 2,380 salt bins located in key positions around the county.

The council says that during normal winter conditions 1,700 kilometres of priority one roads, normally A or B roads, will be treated, covering 45% of the road network.

The authority adds that more minor routes will be treated in times of prolonged severe winter weather when resources are available.

Durham gritters
Durham County Council

Terror-accused boy 'was adopting persona'

Press Association

An alleged teenage neo-Nazi said he was adopting a persona when he listed venues in his home city "worth attacking", a court has heard.

The 16-year-old boy, from Durham, drafted a manifesto entitled "A Manual for practical and sensible guerrilla warfare against the kike system in the Durham City area, Sieg Heil".

Within the document was a list of supposed targets including schools, post offices, pubs, council buildings, a passport office and a bus station, Manchester Crown Court has heard.

He also allegedly wrote of planning to conduct an arson spree with Molotov cocktails on synagogues in the Durham area.

But the youngster told a jury he had no intention of carrying out any attacks, did not hold racist views and only pretended to do so for "shock value" and to feel better about himself.

The document was seized along with a diary, books - including Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf - and computer devices by police who searched his home in March.

The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told prosecutor Michelle Nelson QC that his diary entries and online posts on a far right-wing forum were made in his false persona, which he said he created in 2017 because "it was the most extreme I could think of".

He denies preparation of terrorist acts, disseminating a terrorist publication, possessing an article for a purpose connected with terrorism and three counts of possessing a document or record containing information likely to be useful to a terrorist. The trial continues.

Durham anti-social behavior to be discussed

Plans to stamp out anti-social behaviour in Durham City will be discussed at a major conference today.

It follows reports of increasing problems in the city, including drug taking, drinking and other anti-social behaviour, particularly in the North Road area.

Durham County Council and Durham Constabulary are among the organisations attending the event at Durham Town Hall, which has been organised by the City of Durham Parish Council.

Council begins eyesore former pub demolition

Durham County Council has begun demolition of an eyeore building after its owners failed to comply with legal notices to carry out the work themselves.

The Drive 2 Data building, in Seaham - formerly the Noah’s Ark public house - had become derelict and old vehicles and rubble were being stored to its rear.

Its owners were issued with a notice in August 2018 requiring them to demolish it and remove all waste from the site.

When this did not happen, and a further notice was ignored, the council began demolition and the owner will be required to reimburse the cost.

Drive 2 Data building
Durham County Council

A council spokesman said: “The condition and appearance of the building has had a detrimental impact on the character of the area.

“We have tried to work with the owners previously and that offer will remain open if they approach us with a viable option for the future of the site.

"We hope this can mark the start of a new chapter for this area.”

Rear of the building
Durham County Council

Historic bridge closed for repairs

BBC Tees

A historic bridge in Teesdale has been closed to allow for urgent repair work.

Visitors to High and Low Force will need an alternative route to see the landmarks.

Durham County Council said following routine inspections engineers identified that Wynch Bridge needs urgent repairs.

The almost 200-year-old Grade II listed bridge was built for the Duke of Cleveland in 1820 as a replacement for what was said to be the earliest suspension bridge in Europe.

It will be closed for two months to allow for replacement of the timber deck and suspension joints, as well as cleaning and repainting of the iron works.

Wynch Bridge
Durham County Council

Shop that sold alcohol to children keeps licence

Local Democracy Reporting Service

A Tanfield shop caught selling alcohol to children twice in two weeks has been allowed to keep its licence.

The Happy Shopper failed two test purchases organised by Durham County Council’s trading standards team last year, where a member of staff sold wine to a 16-year-old and 15-year-old .

The matter was brought to Durham County Hall for a licence review, backed by Durham Constabulary who raised concerns about alcohol-fuelled antisocial behaviour in the village.

Owner Mrs Jaswinder Kaur Mehat served alcohol during both tests, but her solicitor Matthew Foster said she that was “distracted” at the time over news that her father in India was seriously ill.

Following assurances that the business would improve its training regime and install CCTV, licensing bosses said they were happy for the shop to continue selling alcohol.

The Happy Shopper

Ron Hogg diagnosed with motor neurone disease

Ron Hogg
Durham Police

Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg, 67, has motor neurone disease, it has been announced.

Steve White was appointed as acting commissioner last Friday after an emergency meeting of the Durham and Darlington Police and Crime Panel.

He said: “I am grateful that the panel has shown confidence in me to take on this important task, although it is with a heavy heart and a sense of duty that I will be performing the role of acting PCVC.

"Ron is unwell having been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

"He has to concentrate on stabilising his symptoms and adapting to the impact of this devastating illness.

"We all wish him and his wife Maureen our best wishes at this difficult time for them and his family and friends."

Ambulance crews sent to South Bank incident

The North East Ambulance Service said it had sent six resources including a specialist hazard team to the former SSI plant in South Bank.

Fire crews are also on the scene.

An ambulance spokeswoman said there were no details about any casualties.

We will bring you more details when we have them.

Ron Hogg seeks appointment of acting PCC after being "unwell"

Ron Hogg, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for County Durham and Darlington, has asked the chair of the Police and Crime Panel to consider appointing an acting commissioner.

Mr Hogg is not standing down, but is "unwell".

The panel will discuss his request on 20 September.

Busty Bank in Burnopfield remains closed this morning

A road in Gateshead was closed yesterday after a lorry crashed into a bridge.

It happened on the Burnopfield Road in Rowlands Gill near the entrance to the National Trust's Gibside estate.

Police closed the road just after 16:00 yesterday afternoon.

View more on twitter

Durham City bus lane fines warning

A mobile enforcement camera is going on patrol catching drivers using Durham bus lanes illegally.

It's starting in North Road as the county council takes over the enforcement role from Durham Police.

North Road
Durham County Council
North Road, Durham.

The council says it regularly gets complaints about drivers using bus lanes and about the lack of enforcement.

In July last year CCTV recorded 66 contraventions in one nine-hour period.

The camera works on automatic number plate recognition.

For the first two weeks, those caught misusing the bus lanes will be sent a warning letter.

From Monday 30 September, they will be issued with a £60 penalty charge notice, reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days.

Council worker retires after 50 years

Michael Stevens joined Durham County Council as a 15-year-old apprentice and stayed for 50 years.

Now at 65, Michael, from Croxdale near Durham City, is retiring from his job as a fitter maintaining the authority's fleet of vehicles.

He's a keen rower, having represented Durham in the Rowing World Masters and is now looking forward to more rowing, cycling and spending time with his family.

Michael in  the vehicle yard
Durham County Council
Michael Stevens

Former chairman of Darlington football club, Reynolds, guilty of harassment

Ian Reeve

BBC Look North

The former chairman of Darlington football club, George Reynolds, has been found guilty of harassing a Durham county councillor.

Reynolds, 83, went to the home of Heather Smith, had her car photographed and wrote two letters to her. Mrs Smith said they were unpleasant and threatening in tone.

She had previously alerted the council to work being done without planning permission at a proposed development of Reynolds’ - building holiday lodges at Toft Hill near Bishop Auckland.

Reynolds said he was “full of hell” when he wrote the letters but was found guilty at Teesside Magistrates' Court of harassment without violence by district judge Tim Capstick.

He was fined £1,280 and made these subject of a restraining order for two years.

No-deal Brexit impact in the spotlight

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

With the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looming, some North East councils are meeting today to discuss how they'll deal with any negative impact leaving the EU could have on the region.

The North East Combined Authority - the body which represents Durham, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland - will discuss proposals including free ports and a free trade zone.

Boris Johnson faces a showdown in Parliament later as rebel Tories and Labour MPs are planning a bill to stop the UK leaving the EU on 31 October without a deal.

The Government's own predictions are that the North East economy would be the hardest hit if the UK crashes out of Europe without an agreement in place.

Firefighters tackle hay bales blaze

An investigation is under way into the cause of a fire which destroyed hay bales in County Durham.

Firefighters from Seaham tackled the blaze in the Station Estate North area of neighbouring Murton on Tuesday afternoon.

No-one was hurt, but an appeal for witnesses has been made.

Hay bales fire
Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue