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Police crackdown on county lines drug crimes continues

Thirty-one people have now been arrested in a crackdown on county lines drug crimes.

Operation Sentinel and has seen a number of dawn raids carried out across Northumberland, Scotland and Merseyside in the past four weeks.

It's recovered a number of drug seizures including 1kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than £40,000.

Close up of packet of seized drugs
Northumbria Police

We will not bring this operation to a close until we are satisfied that we have done all we can to ensure this particular county line is stamped out and stays that way."

Jonathan BensleyDet Ch Insp, Northumbria Police

County lines is where criminal networks expand their operations from urban areas to more rural locations and smaller towns.

Police say it often involves the exploitation of vulnerable people, including children and those with mental health or addiction problems.

Fire crews assist flood-stranded car couple

Crews from the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service supported colleagues in Northumberland in the rescue of a couple stranded in floods near Ovington.

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Coronavirus: My wife must stay in Wuhan, says Northumberland man

BBC News UK

A Northumberland man and his daughter have been offered a flight to the UK from Wuhan, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, but his Chinese wife has been told she must stay behind.

The UK government is arranging to evacuate Britons from Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province.

Jeff Siddle, said he had to decide whether to leave with his nine-year-old daughter or keep his family together.

"My wife is distraught," he said.

"The Chinese authorities are not allowing any Chinese residents to leave."

It comes as British Airways has suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China because of the virus outbreak, which has caused more than 100 deaths.

Jeff Siddle and his family
BBC

Water firm reporting increase in 'wet wipe blockages'

Jill Archbold

BBC Look North

Northumbrian Water is dealing with an increasing number of sewage blockages caused by people using wet wipes and other products unsuitable for putting down the toilet.

The wipes, for removing make-up and for use in bathrooms, are the biggest culprits, along with cotton buds and sanitary products.

The company said many wipes contain plastic and do not break down in water like toilet paper.

In some cases it said flooding had been caused by inappropriate disposal of wipes.

Waste wipes
BBC

Hadrian's Wall 'covered' Roman fort gifted to the nation

A North East family has donated an unusual gift to the nation - a Roman Fort.

Carrawburgh Fort is between Chesters and Housesteads in Northumberland.

It housed a garrison of 500 troops who protected part of Hadrian's Wall from enemies in the north.

It has been gifted to Historic England by the Du Cane family who have cared for it since 1950.

Most of the site has grassed over but is open to the public and will be managed by English Heritage.

Carrawburgh Fort
Justin Minns

Heavy snow reported in Northumberland

There are reports of cars getting stuck in heavy snow on the A68 in north Northumberland.

It's affecting traffic at Carter Bar, which is the point where you cross the border into Scotland.

There were reports of a jack-knifed lorry blocking the road but sensors suggest traffic is now moving.

Cinema plan for former petrol station site

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

Work could start on the "Ashington hole" site this spring, after plans for a new cinema, restaurants and shops were given the go-ahead.

The seven-screen cinema and restuarant will be located on the site south of the Asda petrol station, between the supermarket and Ashington Leisure Centre.

Northumberland County Council's planning committee also approved a retail and restaurant development on a second plot nearby.

A further phase, featuring 20,000 sq ft of new retail space and parking, is anticipated to be submitted in the next few months.

Artist's impression of new cinema
BBC

Known as Portland Park, critics in the town have dubbed the site the Ashington hole, as it has sat undeveloped since the incoming Conservative administration decided to cancel the relocation of the county council’s HQ from Morpeth in 2017.

Water supplies affected by power cut

The power cut in Durham we told you about a little earlier is now affecting the water supply:

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Man seriously injured in assault by group

A man suffered serious injuries including a fractured knee, fractured ribs and facial injuries when he was assaulted by a group of males, police said.

The 40-year-old was attacked on Albion Terrace, Lynemouth, Northumberland, between 22:00 and 22:30 on Boxing Day and was taken to hospital.

Northumbria Police is appealing for witnesses to come forward.

Appeal to find owner of neglected Blyth dog

A council has appealed for information after a "severely neglected" dog was was found in Blyth.

The lurcher was said to be close to death when she found and in an emaciated condition.

The female dog, believed to be aged about three years old, was discovered by Northumberland County Council in a field in Cowpen following a call from the public.

She is now being cared for in a foster home through Berwick Animal Rescue Kennels and has been named Tiggy.

Tiggy the dog
Northumberland County Council

Northumberland County Council said she is now on a special diet and "receiving some tender loving care".

A council animal welfare officer added: "This dog was in a really horrific state. Someone, somewhere knows who she belongs to, or has seen her about.

"She was completely skin and bone and less than half the weight she should have been.

"She had no fur either and has never been microchipped and seems to have just been dumped out on the streets.

They added: "This is a shocking and inexcusable case of neglect and we are very keen to get to the bottom of how she came to be in such an emaciated condition and bring the person(s) responsible to account."

If you have any information about Tiggy you can call the council's animal welfare team on 0345 600 6400 or by email to Animal.Welfare@northumberland.gov.uk.

Yellow warning for ice in parts of the North East

If you are out and about on the roads this morning take extra care because it is going to be slippy.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for ice across parts of Northumberland and County Durham particularly on the hills where there may also be a covering of snow.

Today's weather warning
Met Office/ OpenMapTiles

More #DogsAtPollingStations

As you have probably noticed by now - dogs have been heading to the polls, as well as voters.

These pooches were photographed at polling stations in Northumberland.

Dog at a polling station in Northumberland
Reuters
Dog is pictured outside a polling station in Northumberland
Reuters

Snowy scenes in Northumberland

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Northumberland - here is snow lying near Carrshield, southwest Hexham, this morning.

Snow lies in Carrshield, southwest Hexham, this morning
PA
Snow lies in Carrshield, southwest Hexham, this morning
PA

Councillors to meet about climate emergency funding

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

Councillors in Northumberland are today being asked to sign off an extra £3m of funding for the next three years in an effort to tackle climate change.If approved by councillors today, an action plan will be drawn up for more tree planting to made throughout the county.

It will also include installing more electric vehicle charging points, and making the council's fleet of vehicles more environmentally friendly.

Northhumberland Dark Sky Park helping to generate extra money for county

Jill Archbold

BBC Look North

Northumberland's Dark Sky Park status is helping to generate an extra £25,000m a year for the county.

That is the conclusion of the Dark Sky Park's steering group which says astrotourism is bringing in thousands of extra visitors a year.

It's six years since the large area of Northumberland became the largest protected dark skies in Europe.

Norhtumberland
Kielder Observatory

Camera trapping speeders at A1 accident blackspot

A speed camera van is set to be deployed at one of the busiest stretches of the A1 after police reduced speeding by 20% at a notorious accident blackspot.

Northumbria Police deployed their mobile speed camera in Northumberland earlier this year after a number of accidents on the 70mph road near the village of Felton.

In the first day of enforcement 66 motorists were recorded exceeding the speed limit, including three vehicles travelling at more than 100mph.

After months of deploying the speed camera van in the area, the force revealed it had reduced the number of speeding drivers by 20%.

PC Peter Burke, of Northumbria’s camera enforcement unit, said there had been more than 100 accidents on the stretch of road over the last three years.

He said the camera van would next be deployed on other areas of the A1 – starting with the 50mph stretch of road between Birtley and the Metro Centre in Gateshead.

Speed van
Northumbria Police

Crimes related to domestic abuse in Northumbria Police's area rise

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

The number of crimes related to domestic abuse in the Northumbria Police area increased by 30% last year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The figures covering 2018-19 show there were 26,567 domestic abuse-related crimes recorded by Northumbria Police during that 12-month period, up from 20,419 the previous year.

It means that 17% of all recorded crimes in the force area in 2018-19 were domestic abuse-related, compared to an average of 14% across England and Wales.

The figures also show an ongoing upward trend with 14,773 offences in 2016-17 and 10,209 offences in 2015-16; the rise over the last four years is 160%.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “The rise suggests an increased willingness of victims to come forward and certainly indicates increased awareness around coercive control, both of which are encouraging.

“However, these figures demonstrate the true scale of the growing problem and, sadly, most domestic abuse cases don’t even come to the attention of the police. It’s vital that we listen to victims and ensure the whole criminal justice system is effective and fully meets their needs."

The Northumbria force area covers a number of local authorities – Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

Repairs to historic bridge discussed

Stephanie Finnon

BBC Newcastle

Amended plans to "take apart and rebuild" a historic bridge linking Northumberland with Scotland look set to get the go-ahead later.

The condition of the Grade I listed Union Chain Bridge crossing the River Tweed is poor and the structure is listed on the national Heritage At Risk Register.

The chain suspension bridge requires repair and repainting and needs to be brought up to modern standards to remain in use for vehicles.

A meeting of the North Northumberland Area Council later is recommended to approve some changes to the works that will be carried out.

Union Chain Bridge
BBC

Empty homes council tax charges set to soar

Local Democracy Reporting Service

The owners of empty houses in Northumberland will find council tax costs going through the roof.

County councillors have backed a hike in the empty homes premium in addition to standard council tax charges.

Currently, owners of long-term empty homes pay a 50% premium on top of their full council tax bill.

From April 2020, the premium will be 100% for properties left empty for between two and five years and 200% for those longer than five years. An additional 300% premium for homes left empty for more than 10 years will come into force from April 2021.

The current average band D charge across Northumberland is £1,915.43. A 100% rise would increase this to £3,830.86.

A 300% premium would result in an overall bill of £7,661.72.

Pictures champion county's profile

Northumberland residents have been invited to pick the best of the county's pictures as part of a campaign championing the area's profile.

Discover our Land is asking the public cast their vote in its autumn photo competition, following the success of an inaugural competition earlier this year.

The judging panel has whittled down more than 200 entries to a shortlist of just four under-16s and 14 adult ones.

Councillor Cath Homer, cabinet member for culture, arts, leisure and tourism, said: "Discover our Land is all about telling the stories of our county, and what better way to do that than through the lens of those who know it best, our people.”

Winner of the Spring photo competition
Alan Forrest

An image of bleak but beautiful Bamburgh gained Alan Forrest first place in the spring photo competition

Discover our Land is all about telling the stories of our county, and what better way to do that than through the lens of those who know it best, our people.”

Councillor Cath HomerCabinet member for culture, arts, leisure and tourism at Northumberland County Council

A1 northbound slip roads reopened

The A1 northbound entry slip road at the A1290, Downhill Lane junction is now open after flooding was cleared.

The A1 northbound exit to A197, Clifton, Morpeth has also been cleared and reopened.

Blocked sewers prompt 'wipes' flush warning

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

Damage caused by blocked sewers is being highlighted by a utility company, as it urges people to be careful about what they flush down the toilet.

Northumbrian Water says it has cleared almost 10,000 blockages across its sewer network so far this year.

One of the main causes is wet wipes and plastic, which can also end up in rivers or the sea, leading to pollution.

Richard Warneford, from Northumbrian Water, said: "Despite wet wipes being promoted as ‘flushable' they rarely are, as they may leave your toilet bowl when flushed but can clog up householders' plumbing and can also cause blockages in our network of sewer pipes.

"Blockages can have devastating consequences to people's homes being flooded and the environment being polluted, which is so saddening to see."

Waste
BBC

New playpark will make 'massive difference'

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

A new play park will make a "massive difference" to children in a Northumberland town, councillors have been told.

West Bedlington Town Council has been given the green light to build the facility on land known as 20 Acre Field, off Church Lane.

A meeting of the Cramlington, Bedlington and Seaton Valley Local Area Council was told it would provide a small football pitch along with a number of items of play equipment of varying height, all enclosed by a 1.2-metre, round-top metal fence.

The plan was in response to a number of requests from families in the Millfield estate, as the two other play areas in the parish were on the west side of town.

Councillor Mark Swinburn said it was "essential to provide these facilities", but "a shame" it fell to local councils rather than being provided by housing developers.

Site of play area
Google

Fire crew rescues ditch-stranded horse

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service pulled of an "amazing rescue", after a horse fell down a ditch.

Its rider used the What3Words app to give an exact location, and if you've not heard about it before, here's an explanation.

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North East areas added to 'at risk register'

Mark Denten

BBC Look North

Two Northumberland sites have been placed on Historic England's "at risk" register, which is out today.

Conservation areas in Hexham and Blyth are among the 247 new sites considered to be at risk by the organisation. You can see the Heritage at Risk map here.

Meanwhile, 310 sites - including St Andrew's Church in Sunderland - have been removed from the register as they are regarded as saved.

Northumbria Healthcare Trust rated outstanding

Anna Snowdon

BBC Local Live

The services provided by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have been rated as outstanding for a second time by the Care Quality Commission

Inspectors assessed urgent and emergency services, medical care and maternity at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, medical care at North Tyneside General Hospital and maternity at both Alnwick Infirmary and Berwick Infirmary.

The trust also maintained its previous ratings of outstanding for being effective, caring and responsive and good for being safe.

In the emergency department, there had been no patients who had waited longer than 12 hours without being admitted. The department also met the national four-hour target for eight months between March 2018 to February 2019.

We found many of our previous concerns had been addressed well and the trust was working hard to advance its services overall. Our findings have been made clear to the trust and where we have found concerns we will follow these up through our ongoing engagement with them. We will continue to monitor the trust and return to reinspect when appropriate.”

Sarah DronsfieldHead of Hospital Inspection