Newcastle upon Tyne

Latest Stories

Gene editing could halt kidney disease

Newcastle University experts have found a way to stop kidney disease in a life-limiting genetic condition.

The scientists have shown in a cell model and in a mouse model that gene editing could be used for Joubert syndrome to stop kidney damage in patients who have the CEP290 faulty gene.

Joubert syndrome is a brain disorder, causing varying degrees of physical, mental and sometimes visual impairments. The condition affects approximately one in 80,000 newborns, and one third also get kidney failure.

The breakthrough could lead to a personalised treatment in the future.

Cheryl 'seeing someone for anxiety'

Cheryl says she's been getting help for anxiety over the past year.

The Newcastle-born singer told Nick Grimshaw that having a baby has changed her perspective, adding: "Things that might have bothered you before or might have been a problem before, become less relevant to you."

She said that she decided to seek help "because I don't want the baby to feel that, and I don't want to feel stressed as a mam".

Her son Bear was born in March 2017.

Cheryl and Nick Grimshaw

Firefighters to wear body cameras after attack

Firefighters at Marley Park Station in Sunderland will now wear body worn cameras after a crew was attacked.

They were subjected to verbal and physical abuse when rocks were thrown at them as they were trying to put out a fire on Tuesday evening in Winslow Close.

There were no injuries and no damage to the engine.

Firefighters at a Sunderland station will now wear body worn cameras
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

Your photos: Fog on the Tyne

Many of us woke up to a misty morning earlier.

Jackie Reynolds-Sinc captions her photo 'fog on the Tyne' and says "it was quite eerie walking across the High Level Bridge this morning."

Foggy River Tyne

If you want to send us photos you can tweet us, contact us via our Facebook page, or email.

Police hunt petrol station robber

A petrol station worker was threatened by a robber carrying a knife.

The man went into the Jet petrol station at West Rainton in County Durham at about 20.50 on 11 November.

He climbed on top of the counter and pointed the weapon towards the victim before making a violent threat.

He grabbed cash from the till and demanded the employee open the safe but the victim managed to get away to raise the alarm.

Staff were not injured but were left shaken, Durham Police said.

The robber is described as a white man in his late 30s or early 40s, of large build, approximately 5ft 5in and speaking with a local accent.

He was wearing a khaki green coat with a hood which has a peak on it, dark coloured tracksuit bottoms and dark coloured trainers.

Petrol station robber
Durham Police
Petrol station robber

Troll posted 'cruel messages and images'

The actions of an internet troll who targeted grieving families were "difficult to understand", prosecutors say.

Paul Hind posted offensive material about Durham University student Olivia Burt, who died outside a nightclub in the city in February.

He has been jailed after admitting four charges relating to Miss Burt, from Hampshire, and three other people.

Sharon Elves from the CPS said: "While others were offering words of comfort and condolence, Paul Hind instead posted cruel messages and images, which were seen by parents still grieving for their children.

"While it is difficult for anybody to understand Hind's motivation, the undue distress caused by his actions has been made painfully clear."

Man trolled grieving families

An internet troll who posted offensive material about a woman who was crushed to death outside a Durham nightclub has been jailed.

Paul Hind, 38, called Durham University student Olivia Burt (pictured), 20, a "sex worker" and "prostitute" on Facebook.

The 20-year-old, from Hampshire, died when she was trapped beneath a falling barrier outside Missoula nightclub in Durham in February.

At an earlier hearing Hind admitted four separate offences of conveying false information which was indecent or grossly offensive, relating to Miss Burt, from Milford-on-Sea, and three other dead people.

Olivia Burt

BreakingTroll who posted offensive material about student jailed

Megan Paterson

Reporter, BBC Look North

A man who posted offensive material online about a woman who was crushed to death outside a Durham nightclub has been sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Paul Hind, 38, (pictured) from Westacres in Wark, Northumberland, called Durham University student Olivia Burt, 20, a "sex worker" and "prostitute" on Facebook.

Miss Burt, from Hampshire, died outside Missoula in Durham City on 7 February from a "serious head injury".

Miss Burt's father Nigel described Hind's actions as a "desecration" of his daughter's memory and branded him a "sick sadist".

Paul Hind

I, Daniel Blake actor opens food poverty exhibition

BBC Look North

North East and Cumbria

An exhibition looking at the the work of one of Newcastle's food banks and the stories of the people who rely upon it opens today in the city's Grainger Market.

The facility in the West End is one of the busiest in the country and featured in the Ken Loach film I, Daniel Blake.

Actor Dave Johns will open the exhibition which focuses on food poverty.

Meanwhile, the food bank is urging people to consider donating in the run up to the busy Christmas period.

Foodbank sign

Women searching for dresses after bridal chain collapse

Woman are desperately searching for new dresses after the collapse of bridal chain Berketex Bride.

The firm said its 11 outlets in the UK and one in Dublin would be closed from Tuesday and would not reopen.

One of those affected is Danielle who said: "It's all been totally stressful - it's meant to be the best day of your life."

The Newcastle branch where she had ordered her dress shut down last month and she was told her dress would be re-directed.

"With less than six months until my wedding I now need to find an off-the-peg dress.

"Thankfully I found a lovely dress store owner not too far from me who I'm going to see tomorrow, she's also offered discounts to all affected," she says.

Bridal dress

Call for local schools to take part in Durham University debating scheme

Durham University is encouraging schools to take part in a debating scheme.

The initiative sees student volunteers visit primary and secondary schools to help young people gain debating skills.

Students run 10 weekly sessions which are aimed at improving confidence, communication and negotiation.

The programme is free to schools and runs from November to March, ending with a graduation ceremony.

It was founded by Mel Yeung (pictured), a philosophy and politics undergraduate at Durham University.

Image of Mel Yeung
Durham University
The programme was developed by Mel Yeung, a Philosophy and Politics undergraduate at Durham University

Fire crews tackle blaze in former engineering building

Firefighters tackled a large blaze at a former engineering site in Gateshead last night.

Crews from Gateshead, Newcastle Central and South Shields along with an aerial ladder platform were called to the former Jordan's Engineering site on Shields Road, Felling.

They arrived shortly before 21:00 and left just before 23:00.

Firefighters used jets and breathing apparatus and a saw was used to get into the building.

Fire at former Jordan's Engineering site

Points failure hits Metro line

Bad news for anyone planning to use the Metro between St James' in Newcastle and South Shields - a points failure is causing delays.

View more on twitter
Children in Need: Meet the children helped through bereavement
Two boys from Northumberland tell of the support they received to help them talk after they lost loved ones.

Red squirrel population stable

Red squirrel at Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Hauxley reserve
Pamela Dewener

A red squirrel monitoring programme has found that figures are stable across the North of England.

Surveys for the seventh annual monitoring took place in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, parts of County Durham, North Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside and Cumbria, where red squirrels can still be found.

They are completed within areas where red squirrel conservation is carried out by local project teams.

Red squirrels were found in 42% of survey sites and grey squirrels in 48% of survey sites.

Grey squirrels out-compete reds for food and also carry squirrelpox virus, which they are immune to but is fatal in red squirrels.

In addition to the surveys, more than 300 people sent in records of red squirrel sightings between March and May, showing that reds were present in 350 2x2km squares and highlighting places where they were not seen during surveys.

Nick Leeming, chairman of Northern Red Squirrels, said: “Reds are bouncing back in areas of Northumberland, for example around Cramlington, Morpeth and Ashington, where people are putting in the effort to look after them.

"They have also been seen in the city of Newcastle again in 2018”.

Salters Bridge future still undecided

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Daniel Holland

The future of a busy bridge that has been closed during the long-delayed Killingworth Road roadworks is still up in the air - more than a year after a consultation on whether to shut it permanently.

Salters Bridge was closed to stop it becoming a rat run when major works began in July 2017 to widen Killingworth Road and install a new Metro bridge.

It later emerged that the bridge, between Hollywood Avenue in Gosforth and Salters Lane in Longbenton, could be closed for good when Newcastle City Council launched a public consultation on its future in October 2017.

Opinion was split amongst residents and no decision has been made as yet.

A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: "The future of Salters Bridge is yet to be decided but this would be subject to further consultation and discussions with residents.

"The over-running gas works has not only delayed the re-opening of the A189, but also further engagement with local people on this key issue which we will continue in early 2019 when Killingworth Road re-opens."

It was hoped that Killingworth Road would reopen in March 2018 but is now due to reopen in early 2019.

Salters Bridge will also reopen at the time, but this could be on a temporary basis.

Salters Bridge, Newcastle
NCJ Media

Rafa Benitez: 'Everyone is a bit happier'

BBC Sport

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benítez says "everyone is a bit happier" after their win against Watford.

He was speaking ahead of Bournemouth's visit to St James' Park on Saturday and said the result has provided the city and the club with much needed energy.

“You can feel the difference on the training pitch and in the city, the confidence is higher, but it is just one step forward," he said.

“Bournemouth are in a very good position in the table - they are playing well, and playing with confidence.”

Thousands of illegal cigarettes seized in County Durham

Illegal tobacco thought to be worth thousand of pounds has been seized and a man was arrested in a joint operation by Durham County Council and the police.

Officers found 8,800 counterfeit cigarettes and 9.5kg of hand rolling tobacco. Their combined worth is £3,690.

A 48-year-old man from Blackhall Colliery was arrested for offences related to illegal tobacco.

Some of the illegal tobacco seized
Durham County Council

Newcastle City Council announces new budget cuts

Fergus Hewison

BBC Newcastle political reporter

Newcastle City Council has set out proposals to make cuts of £60m over the next three years, with about 100 job losses.

These cuts include more than £13m of proposed cuts from the adult social care budget.

The council is also looking into closing the City Library on Sundays and increasing council tax by 2.95% in 2019-20

Labour council leader Nick Forbes (pictured) says there’s no end to austerity in sight.

The public are invited to take part in a consultation.

Nick Forbes

Emergency services remember the fallen with poppy tribute

Poppies are displayed on emergency services' vehicles
Barnard Castle Police

Emergency services in the North East are paying a touching tribute to those who served in World War One.

Poppies have been added to a number of Northumbria Police, Durham Constabulary and North East Ambulance Service’s vehicles as a mark of respect.

One of County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service’s rapid response vehicles is also displaying a poppy.

Northumbria Police Deputy Chief Constable Darren Best said: “We are hoping when members of the public see our vehicles driving around, it will remind them of the sacrifices members of the armed forces have made, and continue to make in the line of duty and show them that they have our full support.”

Emergency services with the special vehicles
Barnard Castle Police
Poppies are displayed on emergency services' vehicles
Northumbria Plice

North of Tyne vision set out

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Ben O'Connell

The vision and six key priorities for the new North of Tyne Combined Authority have been approved.

The body held its first meeting on Thursday following the signing of a parliamentary order on the devolution deal, which will being powers and £600m of funding to the area.

The cabinet is made up of leaders from Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland councils.

The six 'pillars of ambition' are in a document called Home of Ambition which are based around a number of areas including investment, education, innovation and pride in communities.

The ballot for the first directly-elected mayor for the North of Tyne area will take place in May next year.

Retailers shut 2,700 shops in first half of the year

About 14 shops are closing every day as UK high streets face their toughest trading climate in five years, a report has found.

A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain's top 500 high streets in the first six months of the year, according to the accountancy firm PwC.

It said fashion and electrical stores had suffered most as customers did more shopping online.

Restaurants and pubs also floundered as fewer people go out to eat or drink.

London was the worst-hit region with a fall of 716 stores, while only 448 were opened.

Other cities that suffered included Leeds, which opened nine stores but closed 35, and Reading where there were 39 closures and only 18 openings.

Newcastle fared worst in the North East, with a net decline of 17 stores.

Store closing sign
Getty Images

Hospital 'failed to provide expected standard of care'

A hospital "failed to ensure the standard of care that would reasonably be expected" of it in relation to the death of a man who had robotic heart surgery, it says.

Stephen Pettitt, 69, died after an operation to repair a mitral valve in his heart in March 2015 at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust medical director, Dr Andy Welch, apologised to Mrs Pettitt and her family.

"Unfortunately, on this occasion, we failed to ensure the standard of care that would reasonably be expected of us with a tragic outcome," he said.

"Following Mr Pettitt’s death, the robotic heart programme was stopped immediately and significant changes have been made, following a detailed investigation, in respect of process and training requirements, relating to the introduction of new procedures."

It said issues raised by the coroner at Mr Pettitt's inquest had beenlargely addressed by the Trust following the investigation and any further outstanding recommendations will be implemented immediately.”

Heckling over Newcastle library plans

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Daniel Holland

Council bosses were booed and heckled by protestors over plans to open an addiction recovery centre at a Newcastle library.

A debate on the future of Fenham Library was labelled "an absolute farce" by angry residents in the public gallery at Wednesday's meeting of Newcastle City Council.

A petition with more than 3,000 signatures opposing the development was presented in the council chamber, with campaign leaders saying they were "astonished" that the library was chosen as an appropriate location for recovering drug and alcohol addicts to receive help.

The centre had been due to open this week, but the authority announced last month that its completion would not be until December while further discussions are held with residents and experts.

Councillors ultimately voted 42 to 16 to approve the council's actions.

Councillor Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture, sport and public health, said that the council is "wholeheartedly aware" of the scale of opposition to the plans.

She said the library is the "perfect location" for the centre would provide desperately needed access to recovery services within a community, as well as saving the library from closure.

Fenham library

'Further deaths risk' - robotic surgery coroner

A coroner has said there "remains a risk of further deaths" from robotic surgery after a patient died at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.

Stephen Pettitt, 69, died in March 2015 after having robotic surgery on a mitral heart valve.

Recording a narrative verdict, Newcastle Coroner Karen Dilks said Mr Pettitt's death came as a "direct consequence of the operation and its complications".

She said she recognised Newcastle Hospitals Trust had reviewed its procedures in an action plan from October 2015, but in her view "there remains a risk of further deaths".

The coroner said the trust should establish a policy related to the use of proctors, or expert doctors, brought in to provide advice during new procedures. In Mr Pettitt's case two proctors left while the operation was still ongoing.

The inquest heard they could not have intervened in the operation as they were not registered with the General Medical Council.

The coroner also said Newcastle Hospitals Trust should consider establishing a multiple disciplinary team where any patient undergoing a new procedure can be discussed within a team meeting.

The coroner said there was an "absence of any benchmark" for training on new intervention treatments.

She told the inquest she will wrote to both the Royal College Of Surgeons and Department Of Health and National guidelines should be considered on this issue.

Stephen Pettitt inquest: 'Catalogue of errors'

The family of a man who died when a robotic heart surgery operation went badly wrong said the investigation after his death revealed a "catalogue of errors".

Stephen Pettitt, 69, died after an operation to repair a mitral valve in his heart in March 2015 at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital.

A narrative verdict was recorded at the inquest into his death.

In a statement his loved ones said: "Following Stephen's tragic death an investigation revealed a catalogue of errors including significant deficiencies in training and competence of the surgeon who had performed the procedure, who was subsequently dismissed.

"This was compounded by the fact that several observing clinicians left the theatre part-way through the procedure, and were therefore unable to assist when difficulties arose."

Stephen Pettitt

BreakingNarrative verdict over robot surgery death

The coroner overseeing the inquest into the death of a man after robot heart surgery will ask the Department of Health and the Royal College of Surgeons to consider her report.

Stephen Pettitt, 69, suffered multiple organ failure following the operation by lead surgeon Sukumaran Nair at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, in February 2015.

He was the first person in the UK to undergo the pioneering procedure.

Recording a narrative verdict, Karen Dilks said: "Mr Pettitt died due to complications of an operation to treat mitral valve disease and, in part, because the operation was undertaken with robotic assistance."

Police appeal after Newcastle assault

Police investigating an assault outside a Newcastle nightclub have released an image of a man they want to trace.

Officers were called to Tup Tup Palace, on Saint Nicholas Street, at about 03:30 on 10 October following a report of an assault.

A 34-year-old man suffered a broken jaw and had been knocked unconscious. He was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police have now identified a man they would like to speak to in connection with their enquiries. He is believed to have been in the area at the time and may be able to assist officers.

Wanted man Tup Tup
Northumbria Police

North of Tyne body holds first meeting

Luke Walton

BBC Look North

The North of Tyne combined authority is holding its first ever meeting this afternoon.

The North of Tyne plan follows decision of Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham to pull out pf the Government's North East devolution deal in 2016, leaving Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland to go it alone.

The authority will have powers over economic development, skills, training and housing.

Backers say it will create thousands of jobs and attract new investment and give the area a "seat at the national table" when it comes to lobbying for Government goodies.

But critics say the plan doesn't have cash, power or democratic legitimacy -ie wasn't put to a referendum - that it needs.

Next May, voters will elect a mayor to lead the new body.

North of Tyne Combined Authority meeting

Stephen Pettitt inquest: 'No plan B'

Mark Denten

BBC Look North

An inquest into the death of a patient who died after robotic surgery has heard the surgeons carrying out his operation had "no back up plan".

Stephen Pettitt, 69, from Whitley Bay died in March 2015 after an operation to repair a mitral valve in his heart at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

It was the first time the procedure had been attempted using robotic equipment at the hospital.

Prof David Anderson a consultant cardiac surgeon at Guys and St Thomas's Hospitals in London carried out an independent investigation into the case at the request of the General Medical Council and Northumbria Police.

He told the inquest there was "nothing to indicate there was a plan B" when problems arose during Mr Pettitt's operation.

Stephen Pettitt

Prof Anderson said if Stephen Pettitt's operation had been carried out conventionally rather than using surgical robots "he would have survived it" and it would have been "low risk". He said Mr Pettitt's condition was not associated with sudden death.

He agreed there was no benchmark the performance of the chief surgeon in the case Sukumaran Nair could be balanced against. But Professor Anderson said Mr Nair's record in other minimally invasive operations demonstrated "very slow surgery" involving long cross clamp times of the aorta.

Representing Mr Pettitt's family Georgina Nolan said he wouldn't have specifically consented to the operation if he'd known he would be the first patient to have the procedure although he had understood he'd be "one of the first"

The inquest at Newcastle Civic Centre continues.

Volunteers create carpet of poppies in Newcastle
Thousands of knitted and crochet poppies have been donated by volunteers from as far away as Australia.