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  1. Updates on Thursday 16 February 2017

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Our live coverage across the day

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You can catch up with the latest news tonight on BBC TeesBBC NewcastleLook North and online.

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Hartlepool Council continues its fight to save town's fertility service

Health managers wanting to close a hospital unit are being asked to re-tender for someone to run it. 

A bidder to provide fertility services in Hartlepool was rejected, despite the company already running services at the hospital. 

The borough's council said it had not been given an detailed explanation and urged health bosses to look again. 

Hartlepool and Stockton-on-Tees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been approached for comment. 

The current site of Hartlepool's fertility service
The University Hospital of Hartlepool

Five year old Finley Ingles from Teesside now in Houston for his brain surgery

Stuart Whincup

BBC Look North

On tonight's Look North, I'll be reporting from Houston about five-year-old Finley Ingles. He's just travelled all the way to the US with his family from Teesside to have pioneering brain surgery that could transform his life. 

Finley Ingles and Daniel Curry MD
Finley meets his brain surgeon at the Texas Children's hospital

Weather: Cloudy and wet to start with, drier spells later

After a cloudy and wet start, dry and clear spells are expected to develop overnight, with misty conditions expected to form along rivers. Winds falling light. 

Minimum Temperature: 3C (37F).

weather graphic

The little house in the Centre for Life, Times square seeks new tenants

This tiny house has remained in its original Newcastle location since 1840  

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Arriva Trains North warns of possible strike action

The Rail Workers union RMT has confirmed it is balloting 1,200 of its members at  Arriva Trains North for both strike action and action short of a strike. 

The latest row over staffing levels escalated after the company failed to give assurances on the future of the guard on their services. The ballot closes on 28 February.  

"Our focus is on protecting the jobs and pay of our people as we work to implement a modernisation programme that will maintain high safety standards, deliver better journeys and improve customer service."

Arriva Trains NorthSpokesperson

The union’s position on driver-only operation (DOO) is perfectly clear. We will not agree to any extensions of DOO and will fight to retain the safety critical role of the guard and to keep a guard on the train."

Rail, Maritime and Transport workers unionGeneral Secretary Mick Cash

Watch: Mother helped to give up smoking during fifth pregnancy

A study by Newcastle University shows that pregnant mums are twice as likely to quit smoking after early help from their midwife.

Researchers say pregnant women are almost TWICE as likely to quit smoking, if they're tested with a carbon monoxide monitor at their first midwife appointment

Melanie Snowdon from South Shields gave birth to her fifth child in March. Having smoked through her previous four pregnancies, she was able to give up smoking with the help of a midwife.

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Rugby: Mermoz to join Falcons

BBC Leicester Sport

Newcastle Falcons have signed the French centre Maxime Mermoz.

Maxime Mermoz
Getty Images

The 30 year old will join the club this summer following his short-term deal at Leicester Tigers. 

He's providing cover at Welford Road becuase of injuries to Matt Toomua and Manu Tuilagi.

Search for missing woman

Police are appealing for help to trace missing woman, Jessica Davey, 33, who was last seen in the West End of Newcastle early on Saturday morning.

Jessica Davey who has gone missing
Northumbria Police

Multimillion pound theatre on its way to Sunderland

Martin Emmerson

BBC Newcastle

On Today's North East, we'll be talking about the exciting plans to create a new theatre district in the centre of Sunderland

The Arts Council is contributing a £6m grant towards the development - that's the biggest one it's agreed this year. 

Exciting times ahead for theatregoers. 

Appeal to trace wanted man

Northumbria Police is appealing to trace 21-year-old Joseph Lowther who could be in the North East. 

He is wanted in connection with an attempted murder in Barnsley, South Yorkshire.

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Wanted man who could be in the North East
South Yorkshire Police

Hartlepool health charity off the road after generator theft.

BBC Tees

A Hartlepool charity's been left unable to offer health services to the local community after thieves broke the windows of their bus and stole the generator.

Hartlepool Families First

Hartlepool Families First carries out regular health checks on behalf of GP surgeries and offer advice and information on their health bus. It means they can help harder to reach parts of the community. 

Hartlepool Families First

Somebody has not thought about the consequences of their actions and thought that this is going to have a significant impact on the local vulnerable community. They've simply seen the opportunity to take a generator."

Paul ThompsonManager, Hartlepool Families First

Pervert had 9,000 indecent images and dozens of bestiality films

The Chronicle

A pervert has admitted possessing thousands of indecent images and movies of children which a police officer said were among the worst he had ever seen.

David Carey, of Longbenton, also had 73 images and 91 movies of extreme pornography portraying people having sex with animals.

David Carey pictured outside court
The Chronicle

Rothbury Community Hospital closure focus of public meeting

BBC Newcastle

People in the Rothbury area of Northumberland will get a chance to quiz health bosses today about plans to close the community hospital there.

The first of two public meetings is being held in the town's Jubilee Hall this afternoon.

NHS managers say the 12-bed ward isn't being used enough and add people can be better looked after at home.

But Katie Scott, co-ordinator of the Save Rothbury Hospital Campaign, says some older people need a bit of extra support before going home.

Maxime Mermoz

France centre Maxime Mermoz will join Newcastle Falcons in the summer, once he completes his short-term deal with Leicester.

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Clattenburg set to quit Premier League

BBC Sport

Consett-born referee Mark Clattenburg is set quit the Premier League before the next round of fixtures to take up a position in Saudi Arabia.  

More on this in a mo...

Mark Clattenburg
Getty Images

The 41-year-old is widely considered to be one of the best referees in football, and he took charge of the Euro 2016 final, the Champions League final and the FA Cup final last season.

In December, Clattenburg said he would consider officiating in the Chinese Super League.

North East companies failing to pay minimum wage

Several North East firms are among 360 businesses named by the government which have failed to pay either the National Minimum Wage (NMW) or the National Living Wage (NLW).

Stockton's Tiny Turners Nurseries failed to pay £20,740 to 54 workers, while Newcastle's Gary Hedley Hairdressing owed £18,539 to 27 staff.

In Middlesbrough, Peri Peri Original was found to owe £9,687 to seven workers and Moncur Reece failed to pay £8,092 to a single member of staff.

Nationally, more than 15,500 workers had to be paid back nearly £1m with offender including Debenhams and Subway. See the full list of businesses here.

A Debenhams store
Getty Images

Literary murals crop up in Middlesbrough

BBC Tees

Literary murals have been cropping up at locations across Middlesbrough including Baker Street and King Square at Teesside University. 

The first three are costing Middlesbrough Council about £3,000 each.

The council says the murals will add to the variety in the town and encourage more people to visit.

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Cheryl's trust gets royal seal of approval to open new centre

Cheryl's Trust and The Prince's Trust are opening a new centre in Newcastle for disadvantaged young people in the North East.

Cheryl visits Newcastle in 2015 to promote The Prince's Trust

The centre on Blandford Square, which will officially open in the summer, will build on The Prince’s Trust’s existing presence in the Benwell area.

The trust said it was good news for unemployed young people in the area, bringing them more support and access to training. 

I’m so happy and excited that the Newcastle centre is finally coming to life. I am incredibly proud to call Newcastle my hometown and it’s important to me to be able to do my bit to help the young people in the area."


Tata workers' quid pro quo

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Tata steelworkers voted on Wednesday to close their final salary pension scheme - which has assets of £15bn and was costing the company about £136m a year. It could lead eventually to the pension scheme being separated from the company entirely.

Colin Richardson, steel industry analyst at  S&P Global Platts, tells Today that the union's agreement means a two blast furnaces will continue operating at Port Talbot for the next five years. 

It will also pave the way for Tata Steel Europe to continue talks with Germany's Thyssen Krupp or another interested party in the Tata Steel Europe business. 

Thyssen Krupp's chief executive has said that Tata would need to address its pension issues in the UK before merger talks could continue, he added. 


Princess Royal set for Newcastle visit

Colin Briggs

Look North

The Princess Royal will be in Newcastle today to meet volunteers from the city's Citizens' Advice Bureau.

The Princess, who has been the patron of the organisation for 27 years, will also meet the Lord Mayor of Newcastle at the city's main library where an exhibition is being held to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the mayoralty and the Freemen of Newcastle.

Princess Anne
Getty Images

Journal front page: Plans to bring jobs and investment to the region

The Journal


Acrobats at the Angel

Cirque Du Soleil acrobats performed stunts at the Angel of the North on Wednesday before heading to the Metro Radio Arena to perform their new show, Varekai, which is currently touring the UK.

Cirque Du Soleil acrobats perform a stunt at the Angel of the North
Scott Heppell/PA

Dog owners warned after poisonous pellets found in Hexham

BBC Newcastle

Dog owners in the Tyne Valley are being warned to be on the lookout as poisonous slug pellets have been found in a popular walking spot in Hexham.

Earlier this month, three dogs fell ill and one of them died after being taken for walks at Tyne Green and Ovingham. 

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Yesterday, slug pellets were discovered at Tyne Green.

Vets say the pellets can act as a very rapid poison and be fatal if dogs eat them.

Weather: Blustery with sunny spells

BBC Weather

It's set to be a blustery day with a mixture of sunny spells and variable amounts of cloud. While the odd shower is possible, most places should stay dry.

Into the evening, there'll be some thicker cloud and outbreaks of rain could spread into the Pennines.

Clear skies are expected tonight, especially in the east, with a patchy frost possible. However, cloud could persist across some western hills, with any overnight rain or drizzle gradually easing.

Weather forecast, Thursday 16 February 2017
The door-to-door poet
Rowan McCabe knocks on doors, asking if people would like a poem written about them.

Hartlepool fertility services under spotlight again

BBC Tees

Another meeting is being held in Hartlepool today to try to get to the bottom of what's going to happen to fertility services at the town's hospital.

A search was launched to find a new provider, but applications to take over the service were rejected by the town's Clinical Commissioning Group.

Councillors adjourned a meeting last Wednesday after they struggled to get a full explanation from health chiefs about their decision to turn one of the bids down.

University Hospital of Hartlepool

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