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  1. Updates on Friday 31 March 2017
  2. Nexus taking back control of Metro

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

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Through the day: BBC North East England Live

Damian O'Neil

BBC Look North

That's all from us for today - thank you for joining us.

You can still catch up with the latest news throughout the night on  BBC Tees ,   BBC Newcastle ,   Look North   and online.

If you'd like to get in touch or share your North East pictures with us, you can do so on   Twitter  ,   Facebook  , or via   email at  .

We'll be back on Monday from 08:00, have a good weekend. 

New start for children's services in Sunderland

More than 800 staff working for children's services in Sunderland City Council will transfer to work for a new company this weekend. 

The shake-up follows a highly critical Ofsted report two years ago, which said the services were inadequate and that children were being put at risk.

Two separate  case reviews  in November 2015 found the council's failings may have contributed to the death of one baby and the injury of another.

A council spokeswoman said more frontline staff had also been taken on.

7: The chair that makes Durham's church a cathedral

Duncan Leatherdale

BBC News Online

This is our final story from Durham Cathedral and it is about the chair which gives the church its name and status.

For a cathedral to be a cathedral, it must have a cathedra, a bishop's throne. And Durham's is bigger than the rest.

Durham's cathedra

"One morning Bishop Hatfield asked some of his monks to go to the Vatican and measure the height of the Pope's throne," senior steward Malcolm Stabler said. 

"When they came back he told them to make his throne one inch higher as he wanted the highest throne in Christendom. Durham's is still the highest throne in Christendom."

Durham Cathedral
Getty Images

Prepare for a drizzly and damp night ahead

Many places will remain dry overnight with some clear periods, particularly in the east. 

More cloud in the west will bring a risk of mostly light showers at times, spreading east towards dawn.  

Check out the weather over the next few days near you. 


4: Durham Cathedral's missing figures

Duncan Leatherdale

BBC News Online

Another story from Durham Cathedral now and this one concerns the Neville Screen, an enormous carving behind the high altar made from French stone which took a team of workmen almost a year to assemble.

As impressive as it is, it is missing 107 pivotal pieces.

The Neville Screen

Senior steward Malcolm Stabler said, said: "During the dissolution of the monasteries, the monks had three days warning that the king's men were coming to take any valuables.

"The screen held 107 figurines which were valuable, so the monks hid them. "Even if they had survived in a crate somewhere, they would have instantly turn to dust if the box were opened."

Man guilty of killing boyfriend after leaving him unconscious

Damian O'Neil

BBC Look North

A man has been found guilty of the manslaughter of his boyfriend after attacking him and leaving him unconscious. 

Jonathan Armstrong, 43, had been in a relationship with Dean Bowe, who was 32, for a year when he attacked him on 7 September last year, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Victim Dean Bowe
Victim Dean Bowe

The couple had been drinking heavily at their flat in South Parade, Whitley Bay, when an argument broke out and Mr Bowe was left with a serious head injury. 

The hearing heard that the pair had regularly fought during their relationship. Armstrong denied manslaughter was found guilty. 

Following the conviction, Det Chf Ins Lisa Theaker, of Northumbria Police, said: " To assault Dean and leave him unconscious on the floor of their flat for over an hour before calling an ambulance is shocking". Armstrong will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on 28 April. 

Jonathan Armstrong
Killer Jonathan Armstrong

2: Durham Cathedral's ban on women

Duncan Leatherdale

BBC News Online

Today we will be bringing you secrets and stories from Durham Cathedral - starting with the women's line.

Across the floor towards the back of the nave is a black stone line which, when the cathedral was operating as a Benedictine monastery, women were not allowed to cross. They had been banned because women would distract the monks and St Cuthbert had reportedly not been a fan of the fairer sex.

the women's line

And the rule applied to all women, as King Edward III's wife Philippa (pair pictured below) found out when the couple visited Durham in April 1333. She was looking for her husband who was praying, but when she crossed the line she was asked to leave. 

When she appealed to her husband to defend her, he sided with the monks. The rule was revoked after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.

Edward and Philippa
Getty Images

Driver critically ill after crashing into trees

Damian O'Neil

BBC Look North

Police are appealing for witnesses to a collision on the A693 near Beamish, which has left a man critically ill in hospital. 

The victim is a 57-year-old man from Stanley in County Durham. He was driving his black Jaguar X-type eastbound shortly after 0600 today when the car left the road, mounted a grass verge and collided with a signpost and trees before coming to rest.

Police suspect he had suffered a medical episode at the wheel.

He is in the University Hospital North Durham where his condition is described as critical.

Durham Police

Teesside Skiside?

It's crunch time for a proposed indoor ski slope for Middlesbrough. 

Council planners will decide today if the ambitious £30m Snowdome should go ahead.  

The original application for the snow and leisure centre was made in July last year, and it's thought there's strong backing for the project. 

The businessman behind the plans already runs two similar centres in Scotland. He says it'll transform the town, creating hundreds of jobs, and bring millions of pounds into the area.

Artist's impression of snowdome
Cool Running (NE) Ltd

Police appeal after three hurt in A19 crash

Hunt for 'axe-wielding' man who threatened builders

Damian O'Neil

BBC Look North

At around 11:35, police received a report that a man had entered a former cafe on Gosforth High Street, Newcastle, and threatened some builders working there with an axe.

Police said he then fled and no-one was injured. 

Officers are currently in the area trying to trace the man but there is not believed to be any threat to members of the public. 

Going Overground

Nexus takes back full control of the Tyne and Wear metro system tomorrow, after being run by the contractor DB Regio since 2010.

The last seven years on the Metro have been marred by an increasing number of complaints about poor service and low levels of customer satisfaction. 

Metro's Public Transport Users group welcomed the return of Nexus, but says the system still desperately needs new trains, rather than the existing ones which are nearly 40 years' old.

Tyne and Wear Metro

The best of friends

The Sunderland and England footballer Jermain Defoe has been back to hospital to visit Bradley Lowery, a little boy who has a terminal illness.

The striker has struck up a close relationship with the five year old, who has neuroblastoma. 

Bradley has already been the Sunderland mascot, and last week he led the England team out for their game against Lithuania. He has also been invited to the Grand National next weekend. 

Bradley and Jermain

T in the Park tragedy teen’s charity set for first fundraiser

Sunderland Echo


The first fundraiser is set to be held for a charity launched in the name of  a teenager who lost her life at the T in the Park music festival .  

Family of teen
Sunderland Echo

Juninho: Attacking and aggressive style key to Boro survival

Middlesbrough legend says defensive football won't keep the club in the Premier League
Former Middlesbrough midfielder Juninho says his old club need to play more attack minded football, if they're to survive in the Premier League. 

(Image: Juninho celebrating, Credit: Getty Images)

Watch: 'I was very happy because I was safe'

Tolosa Tadesse fled to the UK as he believed his life was in danger in his home country Ethiopia.

The 28-year-old is one of about 271 asylum seekers in Sunderland and lives with five others.

He has three degrees but is unable to work until he awaits news of his visa which he finds "really frustrating".

Mr Tadesse says it is "very difficult" being separated from his wife and daughter, but he needs to "stay strong" as his priority is to be given refugee status.

Throughout the week beginning 27 March BBC News is telling the stories of young people in Sunderland online and on social media.

Selfless serviceman assures mourners in message written before death

The Gazette


Selfless serviceman JJ Nicholson assured mourners “I will look out for each and every one of you” in a moving message penned before his tragic death.

Gazette front page
The Gazette

Travel: A693 at Beamish closed after accident

Secrets and stories of Durham Cathedral

Duncan Leatherdale

BBC News Online

Durham Cathedral has been voted the country's best heritage site by readers of BBC Countryfile magazine

Over the day we will will bring you some of the secrets and stories to be found in the 920-year-old building.

Secrets and stories of Durham Cathedral

Weather: Cloudy morning, brighter afternoon

BBC Weather

It will be mostly cloudy this morning with outbreaks of rain at times, some of which could be on the heavy side, especially across the hills of the west. 

It will become drier and brighter by mid afternoon, though the odd light shower is possible.  

Click here for more weather .

Weather data

Control of Metro switches back to Nexus

From tomorrow the Tyne and Wear Metro will be operated again by the public body Nexus. 

The system has been run by the German firm DB Regio for the past seven years, which has consistently failed to hit punctuality targets. 

DB Regio is being penalised £760,000 for that under the terms of its contract. 

Nexus is now bidding for £550m from the government to improve the system with a new fleet of trains.

This morning we're speaking to passengers and Nexus about the changes - click here to listen.

Alfie Joey, Anna Foster and Fergus Hewison

Fire-hit school remains closed

BBC Tees

Pennyman Primary Academy in Middlesbrough will remain closed today a day after an electrical fault caused a small fire. 

About 20 pupils and a small number of staff were safely moved out yesterday. 

The governing trust Tees Valley Education has praised its staff, firefighters and thanked the local community for their support.

Pennyman Primary Academy

Severe accident: A693 County Durham both ways

BBC News Travel

A693 County Durham both ways severe accident, between Station Cottages and A6127 North Road.

A693 County Durham - A693 closed and slow traffic in both directions between the Station Cottages junction in Beamish and the A6127 North Road junction in Chester-Le-Street, because of an accident.

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

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