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Council thanks revellers over pubs' reopening

Newcastle City Council has thanked revellers and licencees after city pubs reopened on Saturday.

It said it was pleased with how the process had gone.

Cabinet member for environment and regulatory service, Councillor John-Paul Stephenson said: “Around 50% of licenced businesses welcomed customers back, with some really quite innovative ideas for how to operate while keeping both staff and customers safe.

“We must thank the trade for working with us and for all the time and investment they put in to prepare for the return of what is a vital part of our economy."

Safety measures included protective screens, one-way systems and app and text message-based ordering systems.

Pub-goer has his temperature checked

Tyneside museums and galleries set to reopen from end of July

Galleries and museums across the North East will be welcoming visitors again, as venues start to reopen at the end of the month.

Arbeia in South Shields and Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend will reopen on 27 July, followed by Newcastle's Laing Art Gallery on 10 August and the South Shields Museum and Art Gallery on 13 August.

The Discovery Museum and the Great North Museum will welcome visitors back on 1 September.

Visitors' experience will be very different, though, as some venues introduce ticketed timeslots and admit fewer people to make social distancing easier.

Arbeia, South Shields Roman Fortress.
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Newcastle's famous nightlife resumes

Newcastle - a city known country-wide for its nightlife - has welcomed back weekend revelers, with safety measures in place of course.

Three women walk in the centre of Newcastle
A man gives thumbs up as he stands outside a pub with bouncers
Police talk to customers outside a bar in Newcastle
A bouncer temperature checks a man

Only one in three pubs will reopen tomorrow in Newcastle

Newcastle City council says just one in three pubs, bars and restaurants in the city centre will reopen for business tomorrow.

A number of pubs on Tyneside have already stated they do not want to join the rush to reopen, fearing "total chaos" as drinkers head out to enjoy their first poured pint in months.

Council figures show about 30% of licensees in the city centre have stated they will definitely welcome patrons once again on Saturday.

A further 10% said they plan to open later in the month, once the initial rush has passed. Another 35% said they have not yet decided whether to open this month, with the remainder not stating their plans.

Supt Karl Wilson, of Northumbria Police, urged people to show restraint.

If you are going to have a drink then please do so responsibly and follow the measures that have been put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus."

Supt Karl Wilson

World War Two bomb found in West Boldon

A controlled explosion has been carried out on a World War Two German incendiary aircraft bomb which was found on a farm in a Tyneside village.

A woman called Northumbria Police yesterday after finding the device on her farm in West Boldon.

Bomb disposal experts confirmed it dated back to World War Two.

Take a look at the video of the controlled explosion.

Unexploded bomb
Northumbria Police
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Statue stolen from memorial garden in Sunderland

A statue honouring the lives of 43 people buried in unmarked graves has been stolen from a cemetery in Sunderland.

Gail Sheppard, 56, created the memorial in her front garden after moving into a lodge within the grounds of Sunderland Cemetery two years ago.

The lodges at the entrance to Grangetown Cemetery are consecrated land which was used for burials more than a century ago, and still contains dozens of unmarked graves.

Police believe thieves stole the statue from the memorial garden at some point between 22:00 on Saturday and 13:00 on Sunday.

Gail Sheppard in the memorial garden
Northumbria police

I am absolutely devastated that somebody would take something from this garden – not only have they stolen my statue, but I feel they have stolen from those who are lying beneath."

Gail Sheppard

Five small Newcastle bridges to be closed to traffic

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

Traffic will be banned from rat-run bridges across Newcastle – including at one of the city’s most notorious speeding hotspots.

Five small bridges will be closed off to vehicles as part of a council crackdown aimed at reducing traffic levels to allow safe social distancing for pedestrians and cyclists.

The most high-profile closure is at Salters Bridge in Gosforth, where residents have long complained of dangerous driving with an average 18,000 vehicles per week caught speeding down the Hollywood Avenue approach.

Salters Bridge in Gosforth

The other bridge closures will come into force on Castle Farm Road in Jesmond Dene, Haldane Bridge in Jesmond, the Argyle Street Bridge near Manors Metro station, and Stoneyhurst Bridge in South Gosforth.

Newcastle City Council says all five suffer from high levels of traffic cutting through residential streets to avoid main roads, with plans now in place to have the bridges shut from early August.

By closing these small bridges to vehicles, we can ensure that people can enjoy their neighbourhoods more and feel safer getting around by walking or on their bikes."

Councillor Arlene AinsleyNewcastle City Council

North East raids net almost 100kg of drugs

Drugs weighing almost 100kg have been seized in raids across the region as part of the biggest-ever crackdown on organised crime in the North East.

A total of 91kg of cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA and ketamine were uncovered in searches, along with thousands of cannabis plants, in just four months.

Officers seized £1.5m in cash, vehicles, firearms and a grenade as part of the operation.

It was led by the North East Regional Special Operations Unit, which saw raids and vehicle stops carried out from March, alongside Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland police.

A total of 37 people have been arrested across the region, with nine people remanded in custody.

The operation, involving months of work, intercepted an encrypted phone network across Europe, and thousands of handsets were monitored and millions of messages analysed.

Nationally over two tonnes of drugs and £54m cash have been seized, with 746 arrests made as part of Operation Venetic.

Organised crime is anything which is planned, coordinated and conducted by brazen individuals who want nothing more than to turn a profit. This operation sends a clear message that we will do all we can to bring these people to justice and seize any assets achieved through criminal means."

Det Ch Sup Alastair SimpsonNorth East Regional Special Operations Unit
Cleveland Police
Cannabis plants
Cleveland Police
Seized money
Cleveland Police

Metro set to triple capacity as social-distancing rules relaxed

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

Metro bosses are expecting a surge in passenger numbers when pubs reopen this weekend, with train capacity tripling as social distancing rules are relaxed.

Cutting the two-metre restrictions down to the new ‘one metre plus’ means that 188 people will be able to get on a train, compared to just 64 at present.

Operator Nexus says extra staff and police patrols will be posted across the network on Saturday to make sure people are using the Metro safely and are not packing out carriages.

It follows a spike in passenger numbers when non-essential shops reopened on 15 June and another massive uplift during the hot weather.

BBC News
Cutting the two-metre restrictions down to ‘one metre plus’ means that 188 people will be able to board a train

We expect that most people will find that they and their family groups can have a comfortable one metre plus or two metre distance throughout their journey."

Nexus spokesman

Average Metro ridership is now between 20 and 25 per cent of normal levels, with numbers expected to rise gradually as more people go back to work in the coming weeks and months.

From Saturday its daily capacity increases to 80,000, although that would assume journeys are spread out evenly across an entire day, which is unlikely to be the case.

Passengers must wear mandatory face coverings, are being advised to travel outside peak times and use other modes of transport.

Police dog sniffs out suspected drink driver

A suspected drunk driver who fled his car and attempted to take shelter in shrubbery was sniffed out by a Northumbria Police dog.

Motor patrol officers had tried to stop a car which was spotted being driven erraticaly in the Whitehead Street area of South Shields yesterday afternoon, but it made off.

The driver then abandoned the vehicle in Tyne Dock and ran off.

Officers launched a search operation and police dog Ziva eventually located him "skulking in some shrubbery".

The 36-year-old was later charged with driving whilst above the legal alcohol limit, and will appear before magistrates later this month.

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Emergency doctor makes full recovery from coronavirus

Sharon Barbour

BBC Look North

A man who has led accident and emergency teams in the North East for decades became one of the first Covid-19 patients to become seriously ill.

Dr Bob Jarman, who was at the forefront of preparing Newcastle Hospitals to cope with coronavirus, was admitted to the very ward he manages at the RVI in Newcastle.

He was admitted to hospital in the middle of March and has now recovered.

Now back at work Dr Jarman said: "In my career in emergency medicine and being a doctor for many years nobody I knew has ever experienced anything like this."

Dr Bob Jarman

Bruce to 'freshen up' team for Bournemouth match

Matthew Raisbeck

BBC Newcastle Sport

Magpies boss Steve Bruce says he plans to "freshen up" his team as they head to Bournemouth for tomorrow evening's match.

"I don’t want to go down to Bournemouth with them not having a game for a week and us playing four games in 11 days so I will be making some changes. Hopefully that pays off," he said.

He said Matt Ritchie was "touch and go" and while he was desperate to play he said he can't take a risk with a soft tissue injury.

He said it was also touch and go for Florian Lejeune after picking up a nasty thigh injury playing against Hull.

He said Christian Atsu wasn't too well when we came back after the lockdown and at the moment he's not quite making the squad.

Steve Bruce
PA Media

BreakingEasyJet consults on closing Newcastle base

BBC Business News

EasyJet has started a consultation process with unions about making redundancies at the airline including potentially closing three UK bases - London Stansted, London Southend and Newcastle.

The airports will remain on EasyJet’s route network, it says.

Johan Lundgren, EasyJet CEO, said: “These proposals are no reflection on our people at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle, who have all worked tirelessly and have been fully committed to providing great service for our customers.”

Pilots union BALPA said it is shocked at the scale of the job cuts, that it says equates to one in three of EasyJet’s pilots in the UK.

100 days of lockdown: Aerial footage shows England's empty spaces

At the height of the lockdown in England cities and tourist spots stood empty.

BBC teams captured aerial footage of the quiet streets - including the Angel of the North and Gateshead city centre - as people stayed at home on the advice of the government.

100 days of lockdown: Aerial footage shows England's empty spaces

Witness sought after 11-year-old child hurt in crash

Police are trying to trace a driver who may have witnessed a crash involving an 11-year-old child.

Officers were called to Silksworth Lane, Sunderland, just after 18:40 BST on 23 June to reports of the child being struck by a car.

The child suffered serious injuries which are not life-threatening and is still in hospital in a stable condition, Northumbria Police said.

A spokesman confirmed officers have spoken to the driver of the vehicle who stopped at the scene.

They are trying to trace the driver of a small, red 4x4-type vehicle which was travelling in the area at the time and may have witnessed the crash.

Northumbria Police

100 days of lockdown: A virtual wedding and street bingo

Today the BBC is marking 100 days of England in lockdown.

We'll be taking a look back at some of the stories which have shaped this period since Boris Johnson announced on 23 March that people should stay at home.

One of the main features has been people being creative to try and carry on doing the things they enjoy.

Poppy Welsh and Steven Gilligan were due to get married on 18 April - and with the date of their big day printed on everything from wedding shoes to Steven's suit, they did not want it to go to waste so they held a virtual wedding in their Newcastle garden.

Coronavirus: Newcastle couple holds virtual wedding day in lockdown

And residents of a Tyneside street set up socially distant bingo sessions.

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Sunderland care home blaze started accidentally

A fire which broke out at a Sunderland care home on Friday started accidentally, firefighters say.

Six people were taken to hospital after the fire started at Croft Residential Care Home on Ettrick Grove on Friday morning. None of them suffered life-threatening injuries.

More than 40 firefighters from Tyne & Wear Fires and Rescue Service tackled the blaze.

Damage to Sunderland care home

Richie Rickaby, area manager for community safety, said: "The fire started on the roof of the building and spread very quickly due to the warm, dry conditions.

"When our crews arrived on scene, most of the occupants had already evacuated the building but there were still seven people known to be inside."

He said firefighters went into the building using breathing apparatus and brought them to safety.

He said it was an "extremely challenging" incident.

Appeal for fire-hit care home smashes target

An online appeal to help residents of a care home which was badly damaged by fire has smashed its target.

Six people have been taken to hospital after fire swept through Croft Residential Care Home on Ettrick Grove, Sunderland on Friday.

The North East Ambulance Service said that none of the six taken to two separate hospitals had suffered life-threatening injuries.

At the height of the fire 43 firefighters were in attendance.

An appeal launched in the aftermath of the fire set a target of £1,000, but has so far raised more than £6,000.

Croft residential home
Steve Bruce

Alistair Magowan

BBC Sport

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce wants clarity from the Premier League about the proposed takeover of the club.

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Manchester City's players celebrate scoring against Newcastle in the FA Cup

Alistair Magowan

BBC Sport

Raheem Sterling's sublime finish helps seal victory over Newcastle United and earns holders Manchester City an FA Cup semi-final date with record 13-time winners Arsenal.

Read more

Quayside litter clean-up operation

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

It's not just the North East coastline which has taken a battering with litter - beer cans, coffee cups, and McDonald’s wrappers were left strewn across the Newcastle Quayside after the hottest day of the year.

Council workers were seen sweeping up rubbish and emptying overflowing bins.

Overflowing rubbish bin

Major clean-up operations have also been needed at the coast, and there have been calls for an alcohol ban at Tynemouth, after crowds flocked to the beach as temperatures soared.

Newcastle councillor John-Paul Stephenson urged people to take their rubbish home instead of dropping it in the street if bins are full.

"We would remind everyone of their personal responsibility to dispose of their rubbish properly – If there is not a public bin nearby, or you arrive at a bin that is already full, please take your rubbish home, and put bottles and cans out for recycling," he said.

Six hurt in care home fire

Six people have been taken to hospital following a fire at a Sunderland care home.

The blaze broke out at Croft Residential Care Home on Ettrick Grove, at about 10:30, and fire crews remain at the scene.

The North East Ambulance Service said three people were taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital and three patients to South Tyneside District Hospital.

None of them had life-threatening injuries.

It also said some patients were treated and discharged on scene.

Scene of fire

'Everyone accounted for' in care home fire

All residents have been accounted for following a fire at a care home in Sunderland.

More than 40 firefighters have been tackling the blaze at Croft Residential Care Home on Ettrick Grove.

A number of appliances remain at the scene, and people are being asked to avoid the area.

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Warning to avoid area around fire-hit care home

People are asked to avoid the area around Ettrick Grove in Sunderland, where fire crews are tackling a blaze at a care home.

They were called to Croft Residentail Home at about 10:30, where the first storey was reported to be "well alight".

There have not as yet been any reports of injuries.

More than 40 firefirefighters and a number of appliances are at the scene, and nearby residents have been warned to keep doors and windows closed.

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BreakingFirefighters tackle care home blaze

Firefighters are tackling a blaze at a care home in Sunderland.

Crews were called to Croft Residential Care Home, in Ettrick Grove, at 10:32 BST where the first floor of the two-storey building was "well alight".

The Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service said 43 firefighters and four officers, an aerial ladder platform and a number of appliances were at the scene.

People living nearby have been warned to keep their doors and windows closed.

Bruce wary of Man City

Alistair Magowan

BBC Sport

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce says he is wary of a Manchester City backlash on Sunday now Liverpool have dethroned them as champions.

The Magpies take on the Sky Blues in the sixth round of the FA Cup at St James' Park on Sunday evening.

"It looks as if Man City will be runners-up in the Premier League and they won't like that," Bruce said.

"They have been serial winners, they almost own the FA Cup, they are a very, very good side and we will have to be at our best. They will treat the cup as something to look forward to."

He said it would be strange playing such a big game behind closed doors.

"Things above us we can’t influence but we can influence things on the pitch. We have put a decent run together, we have four out of six points and it could have been six save for a rare defensive lapse, he said.

"But we are very pleased where we are."

Steve Bruce
PA Media

Shopping centre giant Intu likely to appoint administrators

The owner of some of the UK's biggest shopping centres, Intu, has warned that it is likely to call in administrators.

The firm, which owns Gateshead Metrocentre and Newcastle's Eldon Square, said it had not reached an agreement in financial restructuring talks with its lenders.

Intu warned earlier this week that its troubles could see entire sites shut.

The company is the UK's biggest shopping centre group, with 17 centres in the UK and three in Spain.


Walk-in Covid testing centres to be set up

PA Media

Walk-in centres for Covid-19 testing to make it easier for people without cars are to be set up.

Six centres are being trialled, including in Newcastle, although the exact locations have not been confirmed. One is understood to be on a basketball court, and there have been reports they will be in empty shops and car parks.

A source at the Department of Health and Social Care said officials were working on "walk through testing sites in England for people without cars".

Downing Street said "the right guidance and advice" would ensure the safety of walk-in coronavirus testing centres.

Newcastle parks chief writes to PM for investment

The boss of the independent charity managing Newcastle's 33 parks and 61 allotment sites has written an open letter to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for significant investment in green infrastructure.

CEO of Urban Green Newcastle, James Cross (pictured), says they've seen unprecedented use of parks and green spaces over recent weeks.

He says the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated how important such spaces are to people, particularly for those without access to a garden.

James Cross
Urban Green Newcastle

He's calling for investment in green infrastructure to help benefit the nation's mental and physical health and wider wellbeing.

'Whey Eye' wheel start date pushed back

Daniel Holland

Local Democracy Reporter

Construction of Europe's largest observation wheel on the banks of the River Tyne has been pushed back to the end of this year despite a major step forward for the £100m scheme.

Dubbed the "Whey Aye" wheel, the 460ft (140m) structure on Newcastle's Spillers Wharf will be taller than the London Eye.

Work had been due to get under way shortly, but the developer said it has taken a “sensible precaution” to push its construction schedule back as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Phil Lynagh, chief executive of the World Wheel Company Newcastle, said work will now start later this year with the opening set to be 2023.

Official planning permission was issued this week for the development to go ahead on the old Spillers flour mill site following final legal negotiations between Newcastle City Council and the World Wheel Company - almost a full year after councillors voted to approve the scheme.

Critics have labelled the project “cheap and nasty” and predicted it will be a “flop” .

Artist's impression of the Newcastle wheel
World Wheel Company