County Durham care homes: Protest over closure threat

Protesters outside Durham County Hall Demonstrations have already taken place outside County Hall in Durham

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A demonstration is taking place in County Durham over plans which could see the closure of five local authority-run care homes.

Durham County Council is consulting over their future as part of moves to save £222m by 2017.

About 50 permanent residents live in the homes, with union bosses claiming 170 jobs will be lost if they close.

Campaigners have gathered outside one of the homes in Stanhope, near Consett.

A three month-consultation about the homes, which also include those in Belmont, Ferryhill, Peterlee and Chester-le-Street, is under way.

'Circle of love'

It includes three options - keeping and repairing the homes, closing them and moving residents to independent homes or seeing if other organisations might take over their management.

Michelle Robson, whose father-in-law Donald is a resident of Newton House in Stanhope, said: "We want to bring this issue to the attention of the wider community in Weardale. I think a lot of people are behind what we're doing already.

"My idea was to hold hands around the building and form a circle of love and protection around our beloved Newtown House, because that's what this place is."

Durham County Council stressed decisions about the future of its residential care services would not be taken until after the consultation had ended in the new year.

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    Alvin Stardust on Top of the Pops in 1973

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    News on the hour 15:59:

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    Gran's fuel bill wiped 15:44: News Guardian Newspaper
    Smashing pumpkins 15:30:

    Tracey Laing took this picture of freshly picked pumpkins in Consett, County Durham and is today's Big Picture on our BBC England page.


    You can send us your pictures by email or tweet @BBCNewsNE.

    'General Election looming' 15:12:

    North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Alan Foster says a new hospital is a "fundamental part" of their strategy but adds: "However a General Election is now looming and the board recognises that any new government is likely to wish to review all new developments in the light of its own priorities.

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    News on the hour 14:59:

    The top local headlines at 15:00 include:

    Protest over nursery closure plan 14:49:

    Campaigners opposing the closure of two children's day nurseries on Teesside have staged a protest.

    North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said its nurseries at Hartlepool Hospital and University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton had become uneconomic to run.

    People on picket line

    Protesters gathered at the Stockton hospital from 11:00. Unison said a consultation over the closures was "neither fair nor meaningful".

    Training centre closure 'bitter blow' 14:36: Richard Moss Political editor, North East & Cumbria

    The Youth Justice Board has confirmed it is stopping support for the 58 places for young people at Hassockfield secure training centre in Consett, County Durham.

    By March 2015, Hassockfield will be returned to the Ministry of Justice, which will decide on the future use of the sites.

    Labour MP for North West Durham, Pat Glass tweets: Prisons Minister phoned me this am to tell me Hassockfield STC will close in April. Loss of more jobs in Consett a bitter blow

    Cloudy with light rain 14:22: Kay Crewdson Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

    It will be rather cloudy this afternoon with a little light rain or drizzle possible at times throughout. The best of limited brighter spells are likely near Sunderland. It will be milder than on Wednesday, although the mild feel will be tempered by the breeze.

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    'Biggest decision to date' 14:09: Richard Moss Political editor, North East & Cumbria

    I was given a glimpse of the future this week, but it wasn't flying cars or teleportation. Instead it was seven councillors in a room making decisions. The councillors I saw were the leading members of the North East Combined Authority.

    Councillors in a room

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    News on the hour 14:00:

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    No decision before May 13:50:

    A statement from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust says: "The board feels the complexities of the approval process are such that without high-level political support it appears to be unable to get a decision before the end of this parliament."

    'Disgrace' claim over hospital plans 13:40:

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    Sleeping rough 13:29: Damian O'Neil BBC Look North

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    Homeless man in tunnel

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    'Public not convinced' 13:18: Richard Moss Political editor, North East & Cumbria

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    Multimillion-pound hospital plan shelved 13:08: BBC Look North

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    Family confirms fan's return 10:06:

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    John Alder and Liam Sweeney

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    News on the hour 09:59:

    The top local headlines at 10:00 include:

    MH17 Newcastle fan's body repatriated 09:51:

    The body of Newcastle United fan John Alder, who was killed when Malaysia Airline's flight MH17 came down, has now been returned to the North East and his funeral will take place in the next few days.

    John Alder

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    Cowgate: road closed 09:35:

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    Nirvana's Newcastle gig: 25 years on 09:10: Simon Armstrong BBC News

    Fans who witnessed a fledgling Nirvana's first UK gig 25 years ago remember the band's thrilling and chaotic performance in front of a half-empty Newcastle venue.

    Kurt Cobain
    As it happened
    • News, sport and weather for Thu 23 Oct
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    News on the hour 08:59:

    The top local headlines at 09:00 include:

    More detail on Middlesbrough cuts 08:47:

    Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon said more than £2m would be saved by investing in computers to do large parts of the authority's back office work.

    A number of private contracts to provide children's residential services would also be terminated which will save in the region of £200,000 a year. See more detail on the proposed cuts.

    Going underground 08:35:

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    Mayor proposes 220 job cuts 08:23:

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    Middlesbrough mayor Ray Mallon

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    Cloudy with light rain 08:07: Kay Crewdson Weather Presenter, BBC Look North

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    Weather forecast

    Maximum temperature: 16C (61F). Check the forecast near you.

    Good morning 08:00: Lloyd Watson BBC News

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