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  1. Updates on Friday 18 November 2016

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Carlisle Crown Court

Nine people have been jailed and 22 others sentenced over an elaborate £600,000 "cash for crash" fraud.

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Our live coverage across the day

Martin Lewes


Our news, travel reports, a regular weather forecast and a sideways glance at social networks has finished for the day and the week.

We'll do it all again, starting at 08:00 on Monday.

You can keep up with road conditions over what looks like an icy weekend here.

If you've got a story we should know about or a picture to share, you can email ustweet us or get in touch through our Facebook page

Take care.

Cumbria's weather: Showers with a risk of ice

BBC Weather

Showers will continue through the evening but should become less widespread by dawn.  

There'll be a widespread frost with ice forming on untreated surfaces.  

The lowest temperatures will be about 0C (32F).

Weather grapic

You can find the latest forecast for where you are, here.

Bridging the Hallbeck gap - in less than two minutes

Hallbeck Bridge near Killington in the Lune Valley was so badly damaged in the floods last winter that the only option was to demolish it.

Reconstruction started in September, and was completed last week.  

Cumbria County Council and Story Construction, the contractors, recorded progress in this stop-frame video.

Still of Hallbeck Bridge being rebuilt
Story/Cumbria County Council
Snow in Saddleworth

Snow has fallen in some parts of the country with more possibly on the way, forecasters are saying.

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Watch: 'Cash for crash' boss fakes woman's voice

The mastermind of a "cash for crash" fraud which netted more than £500,000 has been jailed. 

Mark McCracken oversaw dozens of other people in the scam, which staged fake collisions and made bogus insurance claims, Carlisle Crown Court was told. 

The 48-year-old, of Castlesteads Drive, Carlisle, admitted 13 charges of fraud and one of using false documents, and was jailed for seven years. 

During a phone call to insurers he pretended to be woman to make a fraudulent claim for a Jaguar.  

'Cash for crash' boss Mark McCracken fakes woman's voice

Nine jailed and 22 others sentenced for huge 'crash for cash' fraud

Mark McAlindon

BBC Look North

Nine people have been jailed and 22 others given suspended prison sentences for a massive insurance scam involving fake car crashes. 

Carlisle Crown Court was told that for four years, staged and even completely fictitious car crashes were organised by Mark McCracken from the Sandsfield Park area of Carlisle. He roped in associates from the car trade to be part of the scam; all were jailed for sharing in the spoils. 

Others pretended to be drivers and passengers in a deception that cost the motor insurance industry around £600,000. 

Judge Peter Davies told the 22 who received suspended sentences they were lucky not to be taking a real road trip today straight to custody.

Police name woman who died after Penrith fire

Police have released the name of a woman who died in her smoke-filled flat in Penrith this morning.

She was Anne Oates, who was 45.   

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus brought her out of her flat in Brunswick Square in the small hours of the morning, but she died later in the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

Police and experts are investigating but say they don't believe there are any suspicious circumstances.

The Cumbrian farmer who herds his sheep with a pheasant

The Cumbrian farmer who herds his sheep with a pheasant

Your pictures: The first heavy snow of the winter

Cumbria's been snuggling under the winter blanket of snow for the first time this season, and your pictures have been coming in.

Christine Duff
Catbells snow shower
Christine Duff

Christine Duff from Tynemouth caught the contrast of autumn foliage and snow on the shores of Derwentwater, and watched a snow shower sweep across in front of Catbells.

Vale of Keswick from Skiddaw
Daniel Bulman

Meanwhile, Daniel Bulman went for the contrast between the snows of Skiddaw, setting off the brilliant green of the grass in the valley below.

If you've been out with a camera enjoying the snow, you can email ustweet us or get in touch through our Facebook page.    

Last two weeks to comment on plan to cut MPs

There's a final call for people to have their say on plans to cut the number of MPs in Cumbria from six to five and redraw constituency boundaries. 

There's now less than a fortnight to take part in a public consultation before it closes on 5 December, and the Boundary Commission for England is urging people to respond by visiting its website

Boundaries map

This map shows the changes across the North West. 

It's part of a national scheme to cut the size of the House of Commons and even out the number of voters in different constituencies.  

Land Rover

Police reveal a Land Rover found burnt out after a bank raid in Langholm was stolen south of the border in Cumbria two weeks earlier.

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The fun side of study in the great outdoors

Martin Lewes


Staff at the Field Studies Council centre at Blencathra spend their days studying the great outdoors, or helping other people, young and old to do so.

Today they studied techniques for compressing snow and sculpting the result, working through their lunch hour.  

Such commitment!

View more on twitter

Man, 57, admits child sex attempt

A 57-year-old man from Carlisle has admitted trying to cause or incite a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity.

Ronald John Carter, from Partridge Place in Carlisle, appeared before Mr Justice Davis at Carlisle Crown Court.

The judge adjourned the case until 16 December for reports to be prepared, but he told Carter that all options for punishment, including prison, remained open.

Police publish name of Dalton accident victim

The woman who died in an accident with a van in Dalton yesterday morning was Hilda Higgins, from Rawlinson Street in the town. 

She was 76.

Mrs Higgins died in the Furness General Hospital after an incident involving a white van.  

The driver, who's 27, was unhurt.  Police have renewed an appeal for witnesses.

Floods minister 'encouraged by Cumbria tourism figures'

Floods Minister Therese Coffey said today she was encouraged by Cumbria's tourism figures for the summer, as she announced grants worth £4m to repair the damage Storm Desmond did to paths and footbridges across the county.

Floods graphic

Some £3m will be spent within the Lake District, with the rest of the money shared between Cumbria County Council and the Canal and River Trust.

The-then Prime Minister David Cameron promised £2m when he visited the county last January. 

The national park authority identified 530 separate repair jobs, and so far only 33 have been completed because of the £5.8m cost.

Woman dies after flat fire rescue

A woman has died in a fire at a flat in Penrith early this morning.

Emergency services were called to the first-floor flat in Brunswick Square at 01:33 and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus brought the 45-year-old woman out in a critical condition.

She was given first aid by paramedics and taken to the Cumberland Infirmary where she died.

Police and the fire services are investigating the cause, but it's not thought to be suspicious.

The woman's family has been informed.  It's the second death in a fire in the town in a week.

Children bake for Pudsey and Children in Need

The pupils at Penruddock school clearly know how to tempt Pudsey: Cupcakes!

Pudsey with children and cupcakes

If you're raising money for the cause,  email us about what you're doing with a picture.

Maternity care plan 'would put mums and babies at risk', claims councillor

A Cumbrian councillor claims changes being planned by the NHS in the county will put the lives of mothers and babies at risk. 

Rebecca Hanson, who's a Cockermouth Town councillor for the Liberal Democrats, has published an online report saying there could be up to seven unnecessary baby deaths in five years if consultants are no longer based at West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven.

The Success regime, a management group trying to save money in the trust that runs north Cumbria's hospitals, says recruitment problems mean it's better to concentrate maternity care at Carlisle, with a midwife-led unit for west Cumbria.

Ms Hanson says she bases her claim on international research into the maternity care of women living a long way from hospitals. 

Curle: Cup runs cash will go in transfer kitty

BBC Radio Cumbria Sport

Carlisle United manager Keith Curle says money made from the club's cup runs will go into his transfer kitty in the January window. 

United have made progress in both the FA Cup and Checkatrade Trophy this month, but Curle says he's not yet been given a definitive figure on what he can spend.

Keith Curle

United are back at Brunton Park for the visit of second-from-bottom Exeter City tomorrow in League Two. 

There's full match commentary on BBC Radio Cumbria Sport. 

Elsewhere, Barrow can create a new club record of 15 unbeaten games at National League level if they avoid defeat against Solihull Moors at Holker Street.

Breaking'Cash for crash' scam mastermind jailed for seven years

Mark McAlindon

BBC Look North

The criminal mastermind of a massive insurance fraud has been jailed for seven years at Carlisle Crown Court today. 

Mark McCracken, from Carlisle, involved dozens of other people in an elaborate scam by staging fake car crashes and making false claims. 

He pleaded guilty to 13 charges of fraud and one of using false documents. 

The whole scam was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

Judge Peter Davies is still in the process of sentencing the other 34 defendants.  

Travel: Snow causes hazards on A6 at Shap

BBC Travel

The A6 between Shap and and junction 39 on the M6 is hazardous because of snow.

The latest travel news is here.

Travel: Road blocked after vehicle overturns

BBC Travel

A crash involving two vehicles, one of which has overturned, is partially blocking the B6260 between Orton and Tebay.  

The road's hazardous because of ice and snow.

You can find the latest travel news here.

Watch: Bagpipes and cowbells herald festival opening

Kendal Mountain Festival opened last night with a procession through the town centre.

View more on twitter

The three-day event, including more than 100 new films, exhibitions and talks by some of the world's top mountaineers and explorers, attracts thousands of visitors and it's estimated will bring more than £2m into the local economy  

Kendal mountain festival AAA passes
Kendal Mountain Festival

BreakingWoman dies in Penrith fire

A woman's died in a fire in a flat in Penrith.

Emergency services were called to Brunswick Square at 01:33 this morning.

A woman was taken to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle, where she has now died.

Flood repairs 'will step up pace' after grants announcement

Repairs to hundreds of flood-damaged paths and footbridges across Cumbria should gather pace after the announcement that government grants promised in January have now arrived.

Rothay Bridge
Friends of the Lake District

So far only 33 of 530 jobs identified by the Lake District National Park Authority have been completed; a number, like this new bridge across the Rothay at Ambleside, with the help of £60,000 collected by the Friends of the Lake District.

The-then Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced in January that £2m woiuld be provided; now £4m has been granted, £3m for the Lake District

Richard Leafe, the authority's chief executive, says the delay hasn't meant wasted time: "We spent a lot of time working out precisely what we need to do, to which paths and where, and importantly how we make them more resilient for the future."

Travel: Kirkstone pass closed for clearing

BBC Travel

The A592 Kirkstone pass has been closed so gritters and snowploughs can clear the ice and snow.

You can find the latest travel reports here.

Bad debts force credit union to stop lending

Barrow's credit union has been told by regulators to stop issuing loans because of a high level of bad debts.

Directors have appealed for support to start lending again before Christmas.

They say people's deposits are secure, and withdrawals and payments are unaffected, but between £6,000 and £16,000 is needed to start lending again.

Pudsey tours schools on Children in Need day

Belinda Artingstoll

BBC Cumbria Live

It's Children in Need day, and people across the county and in schools will be raising funds for the BBC charity.

Pudsey at school

Many charities in Cumbria benefit from Children in Need, which spends about £2.2m a year in the county.

West Cumbria Domestic Violence Support helps children who've been victims or witnesses of violence in their homes.

Susan Boakes from the charity says: "Initially when the children arrive with us, some of their behaviours are quite extreme. 

"Over the time when we work with them, they settle down, they find it easier to talk about their experiences, which makes them more confident."

Travel: Accidents slow traffic in bad weather

BBC Travel

There's a lane blocked by an accident on the M6 southbound between junction 39 for Shap and junction 38 for Tebay. The road's affected by black ice.

There's also a four-vehicle accident on the A595 near Thursby roundabout.

And the  A595 is partially blocked between the A5093 junction in Millom and the Chapel Brow junction in Hallthwaites, because of an accident involving two vehicles.  

You can find the latest travel updates here.

Weather for fellwalkers: Cold, windy and showers

  • Temperatures at 3,000 feet: - 4C. 
  • Winds: Fresh or strong west to southwesterly, gusts 35mph. 
  • Cloud: Variable amounts around 2,000 feet (600m) with a few patches at lower levels. 
  • Visibility: Good, occasionally poor in showers and in hill fog. 
  • Freezing level: 1,500ft (450m).

The main news in Cumbria this morning:

BBC Radio Cumbria reporters

  • A £3m grant from the government to repair Lake District footpaths after the floods, promised in January, has arrived.
  • A Cumbrian charity has been given up to £50,000 by the Home Office to try to reduce the impact of "hate crime".
  • Barrow's credit union has appealed for donations after bad debts forced it to stop lending.

There'll be more on these and other stories through the day.

Cumbria's weather: Showers, some wintry and cold

BBC Weather

It'll be a colder day than yesterday, with frequent showers feeding in from the west, at times heavy, with hail and thunder, and wintry at times over high ground. 

Breezy, particularly near the coast.  

The highest temperatures will be about 6C (43F) on the coast, more like 3C (37F) inland.

Weather graphic

You can find a full forecast for where you are, here.

£3m grant arrives for flood repairs in national park

A £3m grant has been confirmed by the government to help rebuild flood-hit footpaths and bridges within the Lake District National park. 

Flooded bridge

The money was first announced in January by the-then Prime Minister David Cameron.  

The Lake District national park authority estimated the cost of repairs at £5.8m; rangers identified 530 repair jobs but so far only 33 have been carried out because of lack of money.

The £3m announced today comes from the Rural Payments Agency under a programme called 'Roads to Resilience'. 

Another £1m will be spent in other parts of the county.

Travel: Ice, snow and accidents

BBC Travel

The highest routes in the county are affected by snow and ice; you should just be able to pick out the Kirkstone pass at 07:00 in this picture from Cumbria County Council's network of webcams.

Kirkstone pass in snow
Cumbria County Council

The A686 over Hartside looks little better, and there is a report of black ice on roads including the M6 around Shap and Tebay, junctions 38 and 39.

There's also been an accident southbound near Tebay.

And finally Palmers Lane in Millom is closed in both directions between the Grammerscroft junction and the Haverigg Road junction after a vehicle hit a bridge and debris on the road.

You can find the latest travel updates here.

Good morning. Welcome to our live coverage

Martin Lewes


Welcome to a rather wintry Cumbria in places; we'll be bringing you the news, travel updates and a regular weather forecast, plus the odd snippet from social networks.

You can join in: If you've got a story we should know about or a picture to share (winter wonderland, anybody?), you can email ustweet us or get in touch through our Facebook page.