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Patrick van Aanholt (left)

Saj Chowdhury

BBC Sport

Crystal Palace secure their first win of 2020 thanks to Patrick van Aanholt's superb first-half free-kick which saw off visitors Newcastle.

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Director revealed for award-winning play of 'hope'

A respected theatre director will oversee a production in County Durham.

Conrad Nelson has been appointed to direct the Gala Theatre’s production of Cathy, which runs at the Durham City venue from 5 to 9 May.

The play, by award-winning playwright Ali Taylor, was inspired by Ken Loach's 1966 television drama, Cathy Come Home, and follows Cathy and her teenage daughter Danielle, who are forced out of their flat by spiralling living costs.

But despite the serious issues it explores, Conrad insists the production will be as heart-warming as it is hard-hitting.

“Cathy explores what happens when someone falls between the cracks in the system,” he said.

Conrad Nelson
Gala Theatre

Reward offered over abandoned snakes information

A £2,500 reward is being offered after 29 snakes were abandoned in Sunderland.

Fifteen corn snakes and one python were found in two pink pillowcases inside a bin behind Farringdon Fire Station on Saturday.

That came two days after 13 royal pythons were found at the same spot in a Buzz Lightyear pillowcase.

Animal welfare group Peta is offering the reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

The group's Elisa Allen said: "It takes a disturbing and dangerous lack of empathy to dump so many animals."

The RSPCA officer who collected the snakes said they were "incredibly lucky" not to end up in landfill.

They were taken to a vet to be checked over before going to a specialist reptile centre for further care.

The corn snakes

Officer sniffs out '£2m cannabis farm'

A cannabis farm the size of a football pitch has been uncovered thanks to the nose of community support officer.

The drugs factory, which police said has a street value of £2m, was uncovered by officers on Team Valley in Gateshead,

More than 3,000 plants were discovered in a warehouse by CSO Martin Jobling who was on patrol at the Valentine’s Funfair on Team Valley and noticed a strong smell of cannabis.

Northumbria Police said three foreign nationals were arrested on suspicion of producing a Class B drug with intent to supply.

A spokesman for the force said: “This is a sophisticated drug supply operation that may have seen millions of pounds worth of cannabis supplied to dealers across our region.

“This seizure will have put a huge dent in the pockets of the organised crime group responsible."


Hospice closures warning

James Harrison

Local Democracy Reporter

Ministers have been warned more end-of-life services could shut down if they don’t heed the example of Jarrow’s St Clare’s Hospice.

It is more than a year now since the institution collapsed into insolvency after more than 30 years providing palliative care to families in South Tyneside.

And now leaders in the borough are once again calling on the government to put more funding into the sector to avoid more areas being left without dedicated provision.

“We’re trying to achieve something not just for this area but for the North East – successive governments have failed to meet this and the demand is there,” said South Tyneside councillor John McCabe.

“There is no provision, if it wasn’t for the charities the whole thing would collapse.

“In the 21st Century is that really applicable to something with such a massive effect on people’s lives?

“It needs to be resolved, a lot of hospices are struggling financially, we’ve done the research on that, it’s going to get worse and there will be more St Clares.”

Ex-PM Brown to speak at Newcastle museum

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

The former Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will address a conference in Newcastle today.

Mr Brown is a speaker at an event looking at the constitutional history and future of the UK, which being held at the Discovery Museum.

Other politicians, academics, journalists and a comedian will be taking part in discussions today and tomorrow.

Gordon Brown
PA Media

PCC's widow calls for assisted dying law change

BBC Breakfast

The widow of former Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg has told BBC Breakfast she now supports assisted dying and is calling for a change in the law.

Mr Hogg campaigned for it to be de-criminalised before he died in December, aged 68, months after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Having previously been against such a move, his wife, Maureen, said her views had changed:

"His condition was deteriorating almost by the day. At that point we were just trying to get through each day.

"To see him cry, to be in that situation, was heartbreaking and that's something he had to live through and the memory is something I have to live with for the rest of my life.

"It's not what I would've wished for, so yes, I have changed my thinking."

It is illegal in England and Wales to encourage or assist a death and it holds a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

The Royal College of GPs is set to announce its stance on the issue later.

Ron Hogg in a hospice with his wife, Maureen
Family handout

They're dancing in the aisles over City Hall plan

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

One of Newcastle’s most famous venues, the O2 City Hall, is to get a significant revamp.

Removable seats will be installed so that a standing space can be created for music lovers to dance along to their favourite acts.

There will also be a new bar and toilets.

The historic site was taken over by the Academy Music Group, which runs the nearby O2 Academy, last year and its new owners are keen to bring back the glory days to a venue that has hosted some of the biggest names in music history.

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, and David Bowie all graced the City Hall’s stage during its heyday, and it is hoped that the upgrade can attract top acts once again.

Newcastle City Hall
NCJ Media

Sing out for Sunderland

A new opera has been written for Sunderland and you can help perform it on stage.

You don't need any experience to take part in A Soldier's Tale as training will be given at a free workshop.

The chorus
North News and Pictures

A taster day is at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens on 8 March.

The Soldier’s Return is a new opera based on veterans’ real life experiences, premiering at The Point in Sunderland in June.

Organiser, Opera Sunderland, says that it is drawn from interviews with local people involved in past, recent and ongoing combat situations and it explores the impact of conflict when soldiers return home.

The company says that it plans to involve as many local residents as possible, including offering free singing roadshows in partnership with The Cultural Spring, and schools workshops.

Sunderland-born opera singer and Opera Sunderland artistic director Alison Barton said: “I really believe anyone can sing, so even if you don’t have any formal training or experience our friendly team of experts can teach you."

If you can chant at the Stadium of Light on match day or sing along to the radio in the car, then come and have a go!

Alison Barton
Alison Barton
North News and Pictures
Alison Barton

Fire at old police station is extinguished

Tyne and Wear fire crews spent just under two hours dealing with a fire in a former police station in Sunderland this afternoon.

They left the scene in Primate Road just after 14:00.

The building was derelict and nobody was injured.

Fight night knocked out by Durham sports bar

James Harrison

Local Democracy Reporter

Plans for almost 500 people to be allowed to watch Tyson Fury fight Deontay Wilder in a Durham City bar have been shelved.

Player’s Bar, in the Walkergate area of the city, had applied for permission to keep serving alcohol up to 06:00 on Sunday while it screened the WBC world heavyweight title bout.

But boxing fans will now have to find somewhere else to watch the contest, which is due to be staged at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, after bosses decided to withdraw their proposal.

Speaking at this morning’s meeting of Durham County Council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee, Michael Wathen, general manager at Players Bar, told the panel he was "happy to take a step back" in light of safety and noise concerns.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “It is a late application and we are a sports bar, however we heard the concerns, we’re not a major city and the provisions aren’t there to get patrons home.

“We have a duty of care to get people home, as well as to the local community and we want to promote that relationship.”

Tempers flare in the fight media preview
European Photopress Agency

What next for Sunderland's indoor market?

James Harrison

Local Democracy Reporter

City bosses are staying tight-lipped over upgrades to Sunderland's well-known Jacky Whites Market.

Spending plans allocate up to £400,000 to overhaul the shopping space.

But despite requests, Sunderland City Council refuses to be drawn on what shape the proposals could take.

“On Jacky Whites Market, these plans have been developed, the Bridges are involved and these plans will be taken forward, said Jon Ritchie, the city council’s executive director of corporate services.

According to the spending plans, refurbishment of the market will ‘improve the physical fabric and viability of the market and provide an enhanced provision for traders and visitors’, but offers no further detail.

The market, which is located in the Bridges Shopping Centre, is run by the city council.

Witness appeal after teen hit by vehicle

BBC Newcastle

A teenager was seriously injured when she was hit by a vehicle on a busy Sunderland road yesterday afternoon.

She was flown to Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary by the air ambulance after the crash near the Sainsbury's on Wessington Way just after 16:30.

Northumbria Police has appealed for witnesses to get in touch.

Alabama rot: Seaham dog owner warns after vizsla Jessie dies

Ana Guerra-Moore

BBC News Online

A mother has warned other dog owners to be aware after her two-year-old vizsla Jessie died from Alabama rot.

Becky Hanson-Patterson from Seaham shared an emotional Facebook post after her dog died from the disease, the cause of which is unknown.

Jessie started showing signs of the condition, including skin irritation, on 9 February and died four days later.

Becky Hanson-Patterson

Becky said: "It's horrendous to be honest, she was just like another family member."

The family was first alerted to Jessie's illness when she started being sick and showing signs of lethargy, as well as lesions between her paws.

Seaham mother warns after dog dies from Alabama rot

Severe accident: A1290 Tyne And Wear both ways

BBC News Travel

A1290 Tyne And Wear both ways severe accident, from A1231 Northern Spire to Northern Way.

A1290 Tyne And Wear - A1290 Wessington Way in Sunderland closed and it's slow in both directions from Sainsburys junction to the Northern Way junction, because of accident investigation work.

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

Cash boost for groups supporting victims

Victim services across the Northumbria Police area are set to receive more than £1m from the force's Police and Crime Commissioner.

The Supporting Victims Fund has awarded the cash to a range of organisations helping those considered to be the most vulnerable - domestic abuse and sexual violence victims, young people, victims of hate crime, and those with mental health needs.

It is the first round of victims funds to be announced this year, with more funding to be allocated to specialist services and charitable organisations over the coming weeks.

The latest beneficiaries include Sunderland Counselling Services, The Angelou Centre in Newcastle, Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, and Streetwise Young People’s Project.

Angelou Centre, Newcastle

Northumbria PCC, Kim McGuinness, said: “My top two priorities are to help our force prevent crime and ensure that when a crime does happen, the victim is central to all we do.

“With access to the right help at the right time, people can feel better, even stronger, but it can take time.

"Through coping strategies, therapies and opening up conversation, we can help people to recover and successfully move forward with their lives."

Severe accident: A1231 Tyne And Wear eastbound

BBC News Travel

A1231 Tyne And Wear eastbound severe accident, from Castellian Road to Castletown Way.

A1231 Tyne And Wear - A1231 Wessington Way in Sunderland Enterprise Park closed and queues eastbound from the Castellian Road junction to Sainsburys junction, because of an accident involving a pedestrian and a car.

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

Severe accident: A194(M) Tyne And Wear northbound

BBC News Travel

A194(M) Tyne And Wear northbound severe accident, at A195 Northumberland Way.

A194(M) Tyne And Wear - A194(M) in Tyne and Wear entry slip road blocked and queues northbound at A195, Follingsby Roundabout, because of an accident.

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

Severe accident: A194(M) Tyne And Wear northbound

BBC News Travel

A194(M) Tyne And Wear northbound severe accident, from A195 Northumberland Way to A184 Newcastle Road.

A194(M) Tyne And Wear - Temporary closure and queues on A194(M) northbound in Tyne and Wear from A195, Follingsby Roundabout to A184, White Mare Pool Roundabout, because of an accident.

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

Crematorium closed for six-month upgrade

Birtley Crematorium is to close for six months while its outdated equipment is upgraded.

Gateshead Council the said the 30-year-old furnace needed replacing so it was also taking the opportunity to improve other facilities.

This included levelling the chapel floor, improving staff welfare facilities, and installing a mercury abatement system to reduce emissions and make it more environmentally friendly.

From 16 March, all cremations in Gateshead will take place at Saltwell Crematorium.

Burials at Birtley Cemetery will still be carried out during the works, although they will be arranged around times when noisy building work is carried out.

Birtley Crematorium

The cremator at Birtley was installed in 1989 and although it has been well maintained, repair costs are rising and there is an increasing need to replace worn parts."

Linda Green,Cabinet member for communities and volunteering

Protesters to oppose coal mine extension

Jill Archbold

BBC Look North

Climate activists are expected to stage a protest in County Durham later against plans to expand an opencast coal mine.

The owners of the Bradley site near Dipton, Banks Mining, want to extend the site to extract more coal.

Extinction Rebellion members are set to gather outside Durham's County Hall. A decision about the plans will be made by councillors later this year.

Dipton mine site

Woman, 89, seriously hurt after being hit by car

An 89-year-old woman has been seriously hurt after being struck by a car in Newcastle.

The pedestrian was hit on Gosforth High Street near to the junction with Hawthorn Road, shortly before noon.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “This was a serious collision which has left a woman with significant injuries in hospital.

“We are trying to establish a clear picture of the moments leading up to the collision and are appealing for anybody who witnessed the incident or was in the area at the time to get in touch."

Drivers warned of coast road delays

One lane eastbound is closed on the A1058 Coast Road from Redhall Drive, with motorists warned they could face delays.

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Waste plant hearing to get under way

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

Plans for a waste plant in Washington described as a "monster incinerator" by protesters will be discussed at a hearing starting later.

The proposals for the Sunderland Renewable Energy Centre were turned down by the city council last year.

Rolton Kilbride's application said the plant would operate continuously, seven days a week, processing up to 215,000 tonnes of non-hazardous municipal, commercial and industrial waste every year.

Campaigners, including MP Sharon Hodgson, are expected to gather at the Stadium of Light this morning.

Artist's impression of the Sunderland Renewable Energy Centre
Rolton Kilbride

Heart transplant teen: I thought I might not make it

BBC Newcastle

A North East teenager says his life has been transformed after a heart transplant.

Jack Brotton, from Darlington, was on the urgent transplant list at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital before a donor was finally found.

The 13-year-old is telling his story in a CBBC documentary called My Life: My New Heart, which will be broadcast later.

"It's really amazing," he said. "I was very scared, I never knew what would happen. I thought I might not make it."

Jack's mum, Sarah, added: "It's been a rollercoaster. Life was very challenging. He's had the ultimate gift of life."

Jack Brotton being treated in hospital

Arrests made in Fawdon attempted murder inquiry

Six people have been arrested in connection with an attempted murder inquiry in the Fawdon area of Newcastle.

Police received a report a window had been shot out of a property on Dykefield Avenue on Thursday night.

No-one was hurt in what officers have said was not a random attack.

A 33-year-old man remains in custody after being arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

Two other men aged 23 and 33 have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder.

Three other men aged 19, 26 and 36 are being held on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Det Insp Sally McDonald, from Northumbria Police's homicide team, said: "This was clearly a very distressing and shocking incident which will have had a significant impact on those living in the area.

"Thankfully no-one was injured and we've now arrested six people in connection with this incident.

"This was not a random attack and we know there will be people out there who hold vital information which can help our enquiries progress."

Seaham sunrise captured

Photographer Simon Woodley captured the early morning light at Seaham Habour. Here's his stunning photos:

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Car park roof closes busy City route

BBC Newcastle

One of Newcastle's busiest city centre routes is closed in one direction this afternoon - after the roof came loose on top of a car park.

The Southbound side of St James' Boulevard, running from Gallowgate to the Redheugh Bridge has been shut because of an issue at the Grainger Town multi-storey.

Stay with BBC Newcastle for updates.

'Unsecure' roof causes Newcastle road closure

A stretch of St James Boulevard in Newcastle is closed southbound due to an unsecure roof on the Grainger Town car park.

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Severe disruption: A186 Tyne And Wear southbound

BBC News Travel

A186 Tyne And Wear southbound severe disruption, from Newcastle Upon Tyne to Newcastle Upon Tyne.

A186 Tyne And Wear - A186 St Jame's Boulevard in Newcastle Upon Tyne closed and queues southbound from the Newcastle Upon Tyne junction to the Newcastle Upon Tyne junction, because of an unsecure roof on the Grainger Town Multi Car Park.

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

Delays expected as Haddricks Mill resurfacing get under way

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

Drivers heading in and out of Newcastle are being warned of delays and diversions this week around the long-standing Haddricks Mill roadworks in the South Gosforth area.

The southbound section of the road is being resurfaced as part of a £4m scheme the city council says will make the "collision hotspot" safer and enable traffic to run more smoothly.

The work has been scheduled for school half-term week as traffic levels are lower.

Haddricks Mill roadworks

Severe disruption: A167 County Durham northbound

BBC News Travel

A167 County Durham northbound severe disruption, from A690 Crossgate Peth to St Bedes Close.

A167 County Durham - A167 Newcastle Road in Durham closed northbound from the A690 Crossgate Peth junction to the St Bedes Close junction, because of flooding.

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

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Shamoon Hafez

BBC Sport

Arsenal pick up just their seventh Premier League victory of the season with a quick-fire second-half double key to breaking Newcastle's resistance at Emirates Stadium.

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